Lytham windmill looking across the Green
Lytham Green against the shoreline
Looking from the shore at Fairhaven Lake, along the Ribble Estuary with Hesketh Bank in the background
With a long seafront level with the marshlands and beach, Lytham life brings you side by side with the coast and River Ribble estuary.
The views are spectacular and stretch right across the mouth of the river to north Wales, and Southport can easily be seen as one of the large areas of population. Lytham sits on the turn of the coastline, where the estuary of the river Ribble opens out to sea. As a consequence, there is a big tidal range, with the waters retreating a long way with each low tide.
The sediment that is left behind after these retreating tides provides the most magnificent feast for the sea birds and waders which come to feed here. Refreshed twice a day, the table is laden with invertebrates that form a rich diet for both resident and migratory birds that make these north west river estuaries their stop off point on huge journeys.
Lytham Green was formed out of the uneven dunes and marsh lands of the shore, and beyond the railings of the area which is controlled by man, the age-old natural landscape re-emerges. A strip of marshy grassland sits against the hard landscaping of the promenade, not often covered by the tides but a margin of safety for high tides. This grassy area is a perfect habitat for the species which inhabit marshlands, and over half of the whole Ribble Estuary is a National Nature Reserve.
The Ribble Estuary is the most important site in the UK for wintering wildfowl, with extensive mud and sand flats and one of the largest saltmarsh habitats in the country, which supports over 250,000 ducks, geese, swans and wading birds, while also being internationally important for 16 species of wintering birds. The best times to see this diversity of wildlife and natural environment are in the autumn and winter months.
Lytham Green runs along the full length of the waterfront and provides an open space for special events like the Lytham Proms, but all through the year it is somewhere for people to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll see people walking here all through the year, and in summer sitting on the grass, picnicking, playing games and enjoying the day.
Like most of the rest of the Fylde Coast, Lytham is quite flat, especially so at the seafront. The Green runs up to the water’s edge with a path and ornamental railings, and the sea lies beyond. Lytham sits where the coast starts to turn inland at the mouth of the Ribble Estuary, and with a wide tidal range there are grassy marshlands beyond the railings of the official promenade, on land that is infrequently covered by the incoming tide.
There are public car parks on the Green, along with public toilets, and the seafront is only a stones throw from the main shopping street which lies parallel and is only a short walk down any of the side streets.
You’ll also find the RNLI lifeboat station on the Green. Why don’t you pop into the shop and see if any of their fabulous range of fundraising gifts takes your fancy?
The road parts away from the seafront for a short distance as you head north, bringing you to the White Church on the corner of Ansdell Road. Alternatively, a footpath runs along the coast road from Lytham Green and it’s a pleasant waterfront stroll against the sea, watching the wading birds on the sands.
At the White Church cross roads, turn left and head back to the sea and the main coastal road and you’ll see Fairhaven Lake in front of you as you turn parallel with the sea. The area of Fairhaven sits between Lytham and St Annes, and the Lake is a popular attraction for people and wildlife alike.
Here, you can hire a rowing boat to mess about on the water, have a bite to eat at the lakeside cafe, or simply walk the footpath which stretches for some distance right around the back of the lake and take in the views and the wildlife – on the lake or on the seashore.
The birds which look cute running along the waters edge are trying to conserve vital energy and warmth while the tide is in and their feeding grounds are covered by water. Please don’t disturb them or let your dog run at them – they will just waste energy that’s difficult to replace in winter by flying away.
In summer, the landscape is still active, when birds are nesting on the saltmarshes. Around the Ribble Nature Reserve you might be lucky enough to see three types of gull, common tern and redshank, skylark, meadow pipit and linnet, nesting on land which is managed by Natural England. Regions of saltmarsh are grazed by sheep and cattle in spring and summer to maintain the short grass on which wintering wildfowl rely. Look hard enough and you may see these birds nesting on the marshes at Lytham.
If you’re interested in the birdlife in the area, why not call in at the RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre, situated on the edge of Fairhaven Lake.
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