Inside Merseyside’s reply to Harry Potter’s Forbidden Forest: Discovering the pure delights of Formby, with spooky timber, purple squirrels and a path that results in a panoramic seaside
- Formby seaside forest, planted by the Formby household in 1784, lies on the West Lancashire Coastal Plain
- After a ‘cinematic’ stroll within the woods, Angela Epstein admires the five hundred acres of sand dunes at Formby seaside
- She recommends heading additional south to see the Antony Gormley artwork set up on Crosby seaside
To achieve certainly one of Britain’s largest nature reserves you need to 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 succeed in 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 approach, it’s well worth the cinematic journey. For once 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 (proper, Daniel Radcliffe) enter the Forbidden Forest in 2001’s Harry Potter and the Thinker’s Stone
Woodland attraction: Protected purple squirrels could be noticed within the pinewoods at Formby
But regardless of its uncooked magnificence, it’s solely a brief drive from Liverpool. Little surprise 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.
The pinewoods are a part of the attraction, since they’re residence to purple 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 good friend. However in the future 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 residence 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 simply present in Merseyside and Cumbria.
Angela finds that the view of Formby seaside, pictured, is ‘fairly breathtaking: 500 sprawling acres of sand dunes and a sweeping shoreline’
The uncommon natterjack toad, whose signature refrain has earned it the native title of Birkdale Nightingale, is native to Formby’s sand dunes (inventory photograph)
It is 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 positioning are nonetheless in use right this moment.
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 big picket asparagus spears and sculptures of those that farmed in generations passed by.
The nothingness of Formby seaside, in addition to its microclimate, is a part of its attraction. 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.
‘Regardless of its uncooked magnificence, it’s solely a brief drive from Liverpool (above),’ Angela says of Formby
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 surprisingly 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 onerous 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 time. Not least as a result of this is without doubt one of the quickest eroding coastlines within the UK. What nature offers, it clearly desires to take again.