Any good beach has their name rubberstamped by a Blue Flag award, and Ainsdale is the only one in the region with one of these in its trophy cabinet. It’s also won accolades for the cleanliness of its water, making kitesurfing particularly popular a mile or so out from the sand. Smaller than its more talked about neighbours, the beach is just as attractive and isn’t a million miles away from bigger names like Southport. You won’t need to head here for amenities, with Ainsdale more than able to hold its own. Its arguably the home of natural dune, being of the few beaches in the North West to host these despite the relatively built-up coastline that surrounds it.
Beaches in the North West
The North West is one of the most populated parts of England, with major cities pretty close to the coast. There is a wide range of beaches that welcome people from near and far across the region, each with its own characteristics that keep the visitors coming back.
We’re out to prove that the North West seaside goes beyond legends like Blackpool and into places many haven’t heard of. Despite being relatively built up, the region’s coastal reaches are some of the most unspoilt in the whole country. From the town’s dotted along the Lancashire coastline up to the lush countryside served up by Cumbria, this list gives you the chance to choose a beach that tops off your North West stay in style. And remember, you’re never far away from one of our best parks when you head for these stretches of sand.
Bispham is a striking beach that sits in between Blackpool and Cleveleys. Huge man-made flood defences make for an imposing backdrop to the sand, which you’ll navigate on your route down to the seaside. Known in the area as ‘The Cliffs’, a walk along them gives visitors a fantastic view of the Irish Sea. High tide can completely cover the sand at times, but when it recedes it reveals charming dunes that gently slope away from the land. If you’re feeling energetic, you can tie a visit here in with a trip to Blackpool’s sand. You’re an hour walk or 25 minute cycle from the sights and sounds of one of Britain’s best seaside towns.
Blackpool is one of the first places associated with a seaside break in the UK and is undoubtedly the North West’s most widely known beach break. Once seen as a tired place, the town has undergone impressive investment in recent years to give it a much-needed facelift. Amusements, lights and trams come together to give visitors a coastal experience like few others. The beach hasn’t missed out on this facelift, with three fantastic piers each adding their own ingredients to the Blackpool experience. You’ll be just a stone’s away from unrivalled variety when you’re done on the expansive sand.
Cleveleys is another enticing beach nestled within the relatively small stretch of the West Lancashire coastline. With Blackpool to the south and Fleetwood to the north, the beach smartly compacts the seaside experience into something that is quieter, simpler and much, much easier to get around. It’s anything but small in the sand department though, with the dunes stretching out impressively when the tide is low. Unique pieces of art have made the beach their home, blending in great with the Irish sea surroundings. The sculptures tell the story of the town’s very own creation, The Sea Swallow.
Formby has been attracting day-trippers for decades. One of the more affluent towns with beaches in the North West, the town acts as a commuter hub with similar distance to Southport and Liverpool. It has a distinct calm and collected atmosphere about it, with expansive sand supplying acres of space for visitors to sit back and relax.
Known for its wildlife, Formby is home to several unique red squirrels. A large nature reserve by the coast adds to this vibe and is owned by the National Trust. Underrated to outsiders, the beach is also home to a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Heysham (Half Moon Bay)
Heysham neatly overlooks Morecambe Bay in North West Lancashire. Perfectly tying in with the quieter feel of the county’s north, the beach never gets too busy and is fantastic for a walk with the dog in peaceful surroundings. The beach’s size varies massively depending on where the tide is at, with low tide giving way to sand and exposed mudflats. The area is steeped in history. There are several sites that hark back hundreds of years. The local heritage centre is housed in a 17th-century former farmhouse, and the ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel is just up the road near Heysham Cliffs, a place you should tie a beach visit in with.
New Brighton Beach (Wallasey), Wirral
On the northeast of the Wirral peninsula stands the pretty suburb of Wallasey, home to New Brighton Beach. It’s a place of contrasts. This comfortable ¾ mile stretch of sand looks out across the River Mersey towards Liverpool’s skyline, which is an impressive sight if you stroll along here when the sun goes down. A great place for ship spotting, the sand is opposite one of the UK’s busiest ports. The beach area is home to a huge, modern leisure development. Marine Point hosts shops, restaurants, a cinema and even a theatre so the fun can continue after you’re done on the sand.
Silverdale Beach straddles Lancashire and Cumbria in an area home to some of the North West’s most impressive scenery. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty gives you easy access inland to the Lake District, and the view out to sea is framed by rolling hills from rural Cumbria. The vantage point is one of the best in the region, and a reminder to get your camera out. Low tide exposes rock pools that are ideal for crabbing. It won’t take you long to spot one or two traversing along the terrain. When you’re done along the coast, head for the charming village and visit for refreshment.
St Bees Beach
St Bees Beach is dominated by a dramatic headland to the north that extends Britain’s land further into the Irish Sea. Around a mile long, the beach is formed by a mixture of sand and pebble. It’s backed by spotless greenery and is situated in a sleepy area with the town of the same name a short walk away. St Bees Head is home a range of wildlife, attracting bird spotters all year round. Relatively consistent in size, the beach is a constant presence except for an hour or so of high tide. St Bees is a beach in the North West that is well worth the journey off the beaten track, whether you stick to the car or decide to stretch your legs.
West Kirby Beach
West Kirby is another representative of the Wirral. Home to some of the North West’s wealthiest, the beach is great for a seaside fix that isn’t too far from Liverpool. It overlooks the vast Irish Sea, and you may be able to catch a glimpse of Wales’ north coast in the distance too. Hilbre Island also pops up from time to time, seen for around 14 hours a day in two slots of seven as the tide goes up and down. West Kirby’s beach is compact from side to side but extends impressively out to the horizon. It’s home to loads of water sports, and dogs are also welcome all year round.