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The top ten coastal destinations in Lancashire and the Lake District

PUBLISHED: 00:29 09 August 2013 | UPDATED: 21:26 03 October 2015

Silverdale Shore

Silverdale Shore


It’s that time of the year when we should be heading for the coast. Lancashire Life writers and photographers pick their favourite destinations

St Anne's Pier St Anne's Pier

It’s that time of the year when we hope the weather will be kind and we can make the most of the coast.

Lancashire, north and south of Morecambe Bay, has some spectacular and often neglected stretches of shoreline. Lancashire Life writers and photographers have been out and about selecting their favourites – from the lesser known picture book communities in the north to the miles of sand dunes in the south and from wild isolated spots to places where the sea breeze comes with a tang of fish and chips.

Southport Pier Southport Pier

It’s also our tribute to the hundreds of men, women and children who volunteer to go out weekend after weekend to collect the rubbish left behind on our beaches by those who care less for what is a very special environment.

Grange-over-Sands Grange-over-Sands

1. Bardsea and Baycliff

For most Lancastrians, this is an undiscovered corner of the county palatine. But there was a time when Bardsea was such a busy port, steam packets ran regularly to Fleetwood and Liverpool. Today, it’s much quieter but still popular in the summer with those in the know.

The Cumbrian Coastal Way skirts the shoreline and if you switch inland there are more great walks across Birkrigg Common, home to the standing stone circle known as the Druid’s Circle.

Heading for the beach at Lifeboat Road, Formby Heading for the beach at Lifeboat Road, Formby

A few miles south on the coast road (A5087) is Baycliff, where 17th and 18th century limestone cottages look out to Morecambe Bay making the hamlet a desirable place for the 100 or so inhabitants.

Best for: Peace and quiet, great walks, stunning views. Refreshments: The Ship in Bardsea (LA12 9QT) for good pub food and soft beds and The Fisherman’s Arms at Baycliff (LA12 9RJ) a swish hotel which has recently been refurbished.


Bayside cottages at Canal Foot, Furness Bayside cottages at Canal Foot, Furness

2. Grange-over-Sands

Home to tea rooms deemed to be one of the world’s greatest (even the Japanese were impressed), it now has many more delighted for the visitor, especially those liking their food.

Grange grew up in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras as a holiday playground for Lancashire industrialists and that shows in the architecture. They also created beautiful gardens lovingly tended by local volunteers and a stunning, long promenade looking across the Kent estuary. It still has its own railway station.

Arnside Arnside

Best for: Walks on the prom and to Hampsfell Hospice, good individual retailers, such as master butchers George Higginson. Refreshments at the Hazelmere café and its equally impressive bakery (LA11 6ED), and luxury at the Netherwood Hotel.

3. Arnside

Across the estuary from Grange and on the county border, Arnside is one of the region’s coastal gems. If you haven’t been, put it on your ‘must do’ list. A beautiful curving bay, wonderful views and some interesting shops that overlook the water make this a popular location at any time of the year. Some people never leave!

Best for: Coastal walks, small shops and galleries and the views. Refreshments: Two good pubs at either end of the prom and one of the UK’s top B&Bs, Number 43.

4. Silverdale

A hill called Arnside Knott, keeps Arnside and Silverdale apart but it’s impossible to chose which is the more attractive community. So attractive, the Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell spent her summers here to escape the Manchester smog. The tower where she used to stay is still there. Like Arnside, you will find artists on ever corner and that’s why the two places have an arts festival every year.

Best for: Art and walks to Jenny Brown’s Point. Refreshments: Wolfhouse tea rooms which also have an artist’s studio, Silverdale Hotel and Woodlands pub, which gets good reviews.

5. Sunderland Point

In the early 18th century Sunderland was the port for Lancaster thanks to the Robert Lawson who built a dock and shipbuilding facility here. It enjoyed a brief period of popularity as bathing resort but today it’s just a fascinating spot, close to Lancaster, where residents have to dodge the tides to get to and from home.

Best for: Coastal walks and views and the grave of Sambo, a slave boy who ended his days here. Refreshments: Bring your own.

6. Glasson

This took over as a port from Sunderland Point and was a centre for shipbuilding during the time of sail. Today, there is a large marina, some industry and not much else. But it has a great atmosphere that attracts walkers and bikers all year.

Best for: Walks along the coast to Cockersand Abbey and the Lancaster Smokehouse selling kipper among other things. Refreshments: Two pubs and a great café.

7. Blackpool

OK, this isn’t the sort of place to take your maiden aunt for a night out, but there are many things to do here and most of them are fun. The huge prom and piers are great for a walker, the trams take you back in time and most kids or grandkids will love the Pleasure Beach. Go on, you’ll like it.

Best for: you name it, Blackpool has got it - fish and chips, fun with the Comedy Carpet, theatres, and The Big One. Refreshments: Ambrosini’s and Toast get good reviews and people rave about the fish and chips at Seafresh. Stay at The Big Blue.

8. St Annes

Blackpool’s genteel near neighbour with a pier and a prom, lots of shops and a reasonably lively night life. The big news recently has been the opening of some beach chalets on the front. Plenty of facilities and a good range of places to eat. It’s not as quaint as Lytham but it’s a shade more lively.

Best for: Golf – the Open was staged here last year – and a large expanse of sandy beaches. Lots of places to eat, including Green’s, a former Lancashire Life Restaurant of the Year. Well-known hotels include The Grand and the Dalmeny.

9. Southport

The classic Edwardian resort is well worth a day out if not a stop over. You can shop until you drop on Lord Street and once you have recovered head for a bracing walk on the pier. If you can’t manage that there’s a small train to transport you. The arcades are well worth a look and there is a great book shop.

Best for: The stunning Southport Flower Show, the newly refurbished Atkinson museum and gallery and the restored indoor market. Refreshments: The Vincent is a good place to eat and sleep and the Ramada Plaza is very well run.

10. Formby

This lovely coastal town, just south of Southport, is well known for its beautiful beaches and woodlands, largely under the protection of the National Trust.

The town is a popular place to live for footballers and it is a well-known for asparagus

Sand growing and red squirrels.

Best for: Shopping and squirrels, natterjack toads and the huge sand dunes. Refreshments: Don Luigi and Deli and Dine get good reviews and Formby Hall is loved by golfers and spa fans.

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