Cabin Hill National Nature Reserve

2.3 miles / 3.7 km
1h 00m
Junction of Barton Heys Road and Jubilee Road, Formby
OS Explorer 285 Southport & Chorley
Unsurfaced paths and steep gradients
Two narrow gaps
Category 5 Explain

Site Manager: 01704 578774

Cabin Hill used to be the largest dune on this part of the coast. It was used as a landmark by shipping approaching Liverpool until removed by sand extraction between 1940 and 1960. In 1970 a flood bank was created by the water authority to protect the low lying land behind the dunes from tidal surges. This left wet areas (slacks) on either side which have since become very important for wildlife.

The extensive shores provide undisturbed feeding and roosting grounds for thousands of migrating and over-wintering birds. These include knot, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit, for which the area is internationally important.

Close to the beach, lyme grass, sea rocket and sea holly help to trap wind blown sand and start to form embryo dunes. Next, there are the mobile yellow dunes on which marram grass grows. The nationally endangered sand lizard and rare tiger beetle are found here. Further inland where there is more shelter, the fixed grey dunes support a wide variety of plants, including sand sedge, dewberry, seaside centaury, bee orchid and pyramidal orchid.

Dune slacks are the damp hollows which form between the ridges of dunes. Grass of Parnassus, round-leaved wintergreen, marsh helleborine and marsh pennywort all grow here and natterjack toads come here to breed.

  1. Head along Barton Heys Road from Jubilee Road.

  2. Where the road turns sharply to the left, take the track on the right.

  3. Turn right at the crossroads.

  4. Before reaching the shore turn right and cross the dunes.

  5. Turn inland before the track and pond. If you stay close to the fenced off part of the nature reserve, you should reach a track.

  6. Head straight on along the track and follow it back to the beginning.