If you are visiting or living in Liverpool, you absolutely must check out the surrounding beaches. From the majestic spectacle of Anthony Gormley’s sculptures at Crosby, to the wild open mudflats of West Kirby, there is something for everyone along the Merseyside coastline.
Crosby beach is probably the most well-known and, consequently, often the busiest. As you approach from Waterloo train station (a short, 23 minute hop from Liverpool Central), you walk along the road and are soon faced with Crosby Marina Club: two giant ponds on which a mixed congregation of ducks and windsurfers wait. From there, it is a short wander between the ponds and the swooping gulls, over a hill to be greeted by the sight of this stunningly windswept, sandy beach.
The beach itself faces out West into the Mersey Estuary and the harsh Atlantic meaning that it plays host to some glorious, glowing sunsets. At the south end of the beach is Seaforth Freeport and container terminal. Large container ships pass slowly by laden with goods or luggage from other countries. This, combined with the distant wind-turbines gives the beach an oddly industrial feel, especially in winter when it is deserted. In stark contrast, the chattering starlings, ice-cream van, dog-walkers, kids searching for shells and coast-guard at the north end of the beach in summer transform it into a tourist and family paradise. In summer, a few brave souls go skinny-dipping in the still chilly water although swimming is not advised because of whirlpools and unpredictable currents. Along the back of the beach, behind the dunes, is a raised, concrete cycle path meaning that bikes are an excellently enjoyable way to explore the area (although not recommended in winter because dry sand and harsh winds are not a pleasant combination).
The main attraction of Crosby, however, is the art installation by sculptor Antony Gormley. He has created over 200 iron casts of his own body and these are scattered across the beach and out to sea. Because of the tides, many are adorned to some extent with seaweed and cockles or, in Scouse spirit, the odd Liverpool FC flag. Many are half buried or else surrounded by deep pools of water etched away by the swirling sea. Although they were all originally identical, they now each have their own individual character. The overall effect of the statues is awe-inspiring; they may be viewed symbolising a mass-exodus of people or rather, as I see it, suggesting a feeling of entrapment on land, longing for what is over the horizon and isolation even within the crowds.
To extend your trip, it is possible to wander from the beach, across some fields towards the village of Little Crosby and visit the church there.