From 5.1 km (3.2 mi) to 7.2 km (4.5 mi), depending on tide and appetite for walking an sand.
Time: 1 1/4 hour or 1 3/4 hours walking time.
Hall Road, Waterloo and Hightown stations are located on the Southport branch of the Merseyrail network's Northern Line, travelling north along the West Lancashire Coast.
Fascinating, easy walk in Merseyside, from Hall Road to Waterloo stations and along Crosby Beach past Antony Gormley's world-renowned public art installation "Another Place" in its now permanent location, with views across the Mersey Estuary to The Wirral Peninsula and across Liverpool Bay to the North Wales mountains.
Note: The statues are placed on Crosby Foreshore, a wide and shallow tidal beach on the River Mersey, which has the second highest tidal range in Britain. Therefore plenty of water channels with fast-moving water and large areas of very soft sand and mud exist. And while it is generally safe within 50m of the promenade, further out it is easy to get cut off by the incoming tide or to get stuck in soft sand or mud. There are also often nesting birds near the Low Water mark (as shown on the route map). In any case, study the tide times before embarking on this walk, and - if in doubt - stick to the High Water mark (as shown on the route map) or even to the tarmac promenade at the back of the beach.
Plenty of options near Waterloo station, see text below for details.
The River Alt is Liverpool's second river and flows north west through Lancashire and Merseyside. It rises in Huyton at the Hag Plantation, and flows through Croxteth Park, West Derby and Maghull. It then flows out to the River Mersey at Hightown, between Crosby and Formby. St Helens Gutter, as the Alt is known between Aintree and Maghull, was once the name of the Milldam (water supply) of Sefton Mill. The river flows through a channel created around 14,000 years by glacial ice which crawled south from the Irish Sea basin. As the Alt flows towards the coast, it cuts through a plain of alluvium (river or wind deposited sand), mudstone and sandstone. At its mouth are the wide beaches and quicksand of the West Lancashire coast. For generations, people have had to fight against the Alt flooding. Today the Alt valley is a protected nature reserve. Thirty kilometres of embankments protect the farmland which lies either side.
Antony Gormley's "Another Place"
Crosby Beach, Merseyside now is the permanent home of Antony Gormley's art installation "Another Place". It consists of 100 figures of cast iron facing out to sea, "staring" at the horizon in "silent expectation". They are spread over a 3.2 km (2.0 mi) stretch of the beach between Waterloo and Blundellsands, and stretch out almost 1 km to the sea from the coast line. Each figure is 189 cm tall, weighs around 650 kg and stands on a metre-high foundation pile. The figures are cast replicas of Gormley's own body. As the tides ebb and flow, the figures are revealed and submerged by the sea, or - in the artists's words - "In this work, human life is tested against planetary time.". As a result, regular maintenance is needed to check the changes wrought by heavy winter storms and shifting sands.The figures were cast at Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax, West Yorkshire and the Joseph and Jesse Siddons Foundry in West Bromwich. Over the years, the statues have been colonised by sessile intertidal organisms, such as invasive species of barnacles.
Waterloo is a residential suburb of predominately Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian villas, mews and terraces, facing the sea. A series of public gardens - built as a job creation scheme during the 1930s Great Depression - run adjacent to the esplanade that abuts the marina leading to the coast and beach.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
- Arriving from Liverpool, leave the platform at the southerly end towards the back of the train, ignore the overbridge across the tracks to the station building and exit the station to the right along a tarmac path and in 60m continue along Alt Road.
- In 20m fork right along Lower Alt Road, gently curving to the left with it. In 110m at a large roundabout with a War Memorial in the middle, cross over to the memorial and pass it to either side and continue in the previous direction, still along Lower Alt Road.
- In 150m, where the road turns sharp left and continues as 'Riverside', you continue in the same direction along a tarmac cul-de-sac past a 'No Parking'-sign. In 50m you reach a T-junction with a signed path on the banks of the River Alt with the Altcar MOD Ranges beyond it. Turn left along the Sefton Coastal Path, initially on tarmac.
- In 40m continue to the right of a fenced utility building along an earthen path, signed 'Hall Road Station 1 3/4 miles'; 'Waterloo Station 4 1/4 miles'. In 20m the fence turns to the left and you have the river on your right. In 50m you pass an info panel on 'Hightown and the Alt Estuary'.
- The river turns away to the right and you get first views of North Foyle Wind Farm, the UK's first major offshore wind farm, as well as of the distant mountains of North Wales.
- You have trees and the houses of Hightown on the left and some reed beds on the right and ignore a right fork towards the beach, just before entering an area of dunes.
- The now sandy path meanders through a grassy area between dunes on the right and meadows on the left, past occasional white-topped wooden poles and eventually you pass another marker post, 50m before reaching a wide turning circle at a T-junction with a drive from the left, which leads to Blundellsands Sailing Club on your right. This is after 800m on the Coastal Path.
- There is an info panel on 'Prehistoric Altmouth' on the right. You cross the turning circle and continue in the previous direction to the left of a footpath marker post along a broad sandy track, ignoring a faint path to the right into the dunes.
- In 50m fork right, keeping close to the dunes and beach, ignoring a left fork heading towards the last houses of Hightown, and in 100m fork left, away from the dunes. In 40m bear right along a path joining from the left behind.
- In 100m cross a path and continue in the same direction, when level with the last houses away on the left. In about 200m the path turns to the right and in another 60m it turns left again.
- In 70m you get to a junction with a wide tarmac path at a bend. This is Path 810 of the National Cycle Network and a shared foot/cyle-path. Turn right along it, although there are walkable grassy margins on either side.
- In 70m, by a sculpture made by local school children, you turn left with the tarmac path. There is now a clear footpath in the grassy area to the right, close to the cliff face.
- Soon you have the West Lancashire Golf Club away on the left and in 700m from the left turn by the sculpture you pass a large red brick building on the left, presumably a pumping station for the underground drain emptying from inland marshland into the River Alt on the right.
- The Wirral Peninsula has now come into view across the Mersey River, as well as some of Liverpool's Docks on this side of the Mersey. The Alt River is still meandering through the foreshore to your right, although flowing away from the cliff coast and it enters into the Mersey just before - in 1.1 km from the red brick building - you pass a sign 'Waterloo Station 2 1/2 miles', go through a squeeze gate to the right of a metal field gate and pass a Coastguard Station on the left, by a large car park on the right.
- At a T-junction with Promenade, a cul-de-sac continuation of Hall Road, the main walk from Hall Road station joins from the left. On the right along Crosby Beach you can see the first of Antony Gormley's statues. Turn right towards a large info panel on Another Place and pick up the directions below at number .
Hall Road Start
- Arriving from Liverpool, leave the platform at the southerly end towards the back of the train and turn right along Hall Road West.
- In 500m you continue in the same direction along Promenade where the main road turns to the left as Burbo Bank Road North, past a large car park on the left and a Coastguard Station on the right.
- Where the tarmac lane ends, a wide tarmac path joins from the right, this is Cyclepath 810 of the National Cycle Network and the Hightown Start joins along it. You have Crosby Beach in front of you, with the first of Antony Gormley's statues visible on the sandy foreshore. The Wirral Peninsula and some of Liverpool's Docks are visible to the left, and - on a good day - the mountains of North Wales in the distance. Walk towards a large info panel on Another Place.
- Turn left from the info panel, go down a slipway onto the beach and find your way south past or through the 100 statues. The upper part of the beach should be safely walkable in all but the worst storms and the Mean High Water mark is marked on the route map as the main walk route. The alternative route follows the Mean Low Water mark and you should stay clear of that area - even at low tide - to protect the birdlife there.
- The beach is 3.5 km long and Gormley's statues are placed all the way along it, but the recommended exit from the beach comes about 700m before its end. This is about level with a beacon out to the right in the shipping lane of the River Mersey.
- You leave the beach through some dunes onto the tarmac promenade at the back of the beach and (if you have picked the right spot to do so) come out at a signposted three-way junction of paths (although these may be part-blown over with sand from the surrounding dunes).
- Follow the Sefton Coastal Footpath turning away from the beach in a broadly easterly direction and in about 100m you walk between two lakes: the narrower Boating Lake on the left, and the much larger Marine Lake on the right (both on the OS map).
- In about 300m ignore a right fork and in another 90m a path joins from the left.
- In 140m - at a multi-path junction - you turn left (signed 'South Road Shops') between a row of low cafés and shops on the left and the walled Waterloo Seafront Garden on the right (the entrance is 50m ahead). You pass Crosby Marina Kiosk and the Waterloo Place Gallery & Café and cross a main road (Marine Crescent/Terrace) to continue down South Road.
- It is 350m to Waterloo Station, and en route you pass: several restaurants, Champs Sports Bar & Grill, The Raven Hotel (Greene King), The Queen's Picture House (Wetherspoon's), Timberwolf Grind & Tap, The Alexander and Parnell's.
- If you were to continue down South Road for another 250m, you'd also pass Stamps Too (CAMRA recommended), Trap & Hatch Micropub & Smoke House and The Liver Hotel (a Tetley's pub).