Explore the most important river estuary in the UK on this coastal walk in Lytham St Annes. The Ribble Estuary attracts hundreds of thousands of birds each year. It's a special place with changing tides, lots of wildlife and nice views towards Southport and the Welsh Hills.
The walk starts from the RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre at Fairhaven Lake. The centre is a great place to learn about the birds that visit the lake and estuary. You can park at the lakeside car park or catch a train to the nearby Ansdell and Fairhaven train station.
The route then follows the lakeside path towards Granny's Bay before picking up the Lancashire Coastal Way to take you to Lytham. You can follow the nice surfaced footpath or take an alternative route through the sand dunes.
You continue along the promenade to Lytham where you can take a small detour to the pretty Lowther Gardens. Here you'll find attractive woodland, a rose garden and a pond with a statue and fountain.
After crossing the road to the sea front you continue to the iconic Lytham windmill. The mill was built at the beginning of the 19th century and is open to the public in the summer months. It contains a museum which explains the history and practice of flour milling. After leaving the mill you can enjoy a stroll along Lytham jetty. It's quite a long jetty and at low tide you can walk right to the end and enjoy an even better view of the birdlife in the estuary. Look out for herons, curlew, redshank, shellduck and dunlin. The walk then returns to the fairhaven lake car park the same way.
To extend your walking in this lovely area you can continue along the Lancashire Coastal Way in either direction. Heading east will take you along the River Ribble towards Warton and Freckleton. This section has nice views over the river and surrounding countryside with birds such as Lapwing and Little Egret to look out for. There's also lots of wildflowers in the summer which attract butterflies and other birds.
If you head west you will come to St Annes and Blackpool.
Also nearby is the delightful Lytham Hall. The old hall is surrounded by attractive woodland and parkland with nice footpaths to follow around the site.