August 15, 2022

To achieve considered one of Britain’s largest nature reserves you must trudge by means of densely packed woodland redolent of the Forbidden Forest within the Harry Potter movies.

However as we press on by means of a cross-stitch of conifers to achieve Formby seaside on the West Lancashire Coastal Plain, a extra classic piece of cinema involves thoughts: these spooky apple timber on the way in which to Oz, which grumble with spite when Dorothy tries to pluck the overhanging fruit.

Both method, it’s definitely worth the cinematic journey. For after we emerge from the darkish, cool forest, the view — and the gusty breeze — is sort of breathtaking: 500 sprawling acres of sand dunes and a sweeping shoreline.

Angela Epstein goes on a ‘cinematic journey’ by means of the forest at Formby, pictured, a pinewood on the West Lancashire Coastal Plain, and finds that it reminds her of the Forbidden Forest within the Harry Potter movies

Above Draco Malfoy (left, Tom Felton) and Harry Potter (right, Daniel Radcliffe) enter the Forbidden Forest in 2001's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Above Draco Malfoy (left, Tom Felton) and Harry Potter (proper, Daniel Radcliffe) enter the Forbidden Forest in 2001’s Harry Potter and the Thinker’s Stone

Woodland appeal: Protected crimson squirrels might be noticed within the pinewoods at Formby

But regardless of its uncooked magnificence, it’s solely a brief drive from Liverpool. Little marvel the upmarket suburbs hemming the reserve — a mixture of new-build mansions and Georgian piles — have develop into a magnet for famous person footballers who play for north-west Premier League golf equipment. The confected opulence of those areas is in stark distinction to the pure magnificence that has drawn us right here.

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The pinewoods are a part of the attraction, since they’re house to crimson squirrels — nearly extinct exterior Scotland. Not like the grey-furred dustbin-botherers, the reds are a protected species.

Legend has it they arrived in 1940, after a resident was requested to take care of a Scandinavian breed for a pal. However sooner or later the squirrels escaped, taking over squatters’ rights within the woodland.

The woods themselves — first planted by the Formby household in 1784 — even have one thing of an apocryphal historical past: throughout World Conflict II, German bombers mistook the woodland at night time for darkened Liverpool and dropped bombs, inflicting intensive fires.

The dunes, too, are house to an enormous number of species. Not least the uncommon natterjack toad, whose signature refrain has earned it the native title of Birkdale Nightingale, and the uncommon northern dune tiger beetle, which is barely present in Merseyside and Cumbria.

Angela finds that the view of Formby beach, pictured, is 'quite breathtaking: 500 sprawling acres of sand dunes and a sweeping coastline'

Angela finds that the view of Formby seaside, pictured, is ‘fairly breathtaking: 500 sprawling acres of sand dunes and a sweeping shoreline’

The rare natterjack toad, whose signature chorus has earned it the local name of Birkdale Nightingale, is native to Formby's sand dunes (stock photo)

The uncommon natterjack toad, whose signature refrain has earned it the native title of Birkdale Nightingale, is native to Formby’s sand dunes (inventory picture)

This can be a place the place vegetation sprouts wildly. Asparagus has been grown in Formby’s sand dunes by farmers because the 1800s, with round 200 acres levelled by hand to create the fields. Ten acres of the location are nonetheless in use immediately.

We head off on the strolling path, following a path of round a mile and a half that’s appropriate for all skills. You may even cease for a picnic by enormous wood asparagus spears and sculptures of those that farmed in generations passed by.

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The nothingness of Formby seaside, in addition to its microclimate, is a part of its appeal. Although if you wish to see extra, enterprise south alongside the coast to Crosby seaside the place you’ll discover One other Place, an Antony Gormley artwork set up comprising 100 cast-iron figures modelled on his personal 6 ft 2 in physique.

'Despite its raw beauty, it’s only a short drive from Liverpool (above),' Angela says of Formby

‘Regardless of its uncooked magnificence, it’s solely a brief drive from Liverpool (above),’ Angela says of Formby 

Venture south along the coast to Crosby beach and you’ll find Another Place, an Antony Gormley art installation (pictured) comprising 100 cast-iron figures modelled on his own body

Enterprise south alongside the coast to Crosby seaside and also you’ll discover One other Place, an Antony Gormley artwork set up (pictured) comprising 100 cast-iron figures modelled on his personal physique

They’re unusually disturbing, staring impassively out to sea. The tide rushes in and they’re slowly submerged, solely to reappear because the water falls away.

It’s laborious to beat the magic of Formby. Standing on the dunes overlooking the Irish Sea, there’s a gauzy define of the Cumbrian mountains — and even the silhouette of Blackpool Tower.

However if you wish to go to, go this summer season. Not least as a result of this is likely one of the quickest eroding coastlines within the UK. What nature provides, it clearly desires to take again.