I wonder if every campervan or motorhome owner has at least one no-sweat place. These are camping trips to somewhere familiar and where no planning or research is needed. You don’t have to think about what you will do when you get there, you just have a day or two free, you need a break and after a short drive you can park up the campervan, motorhome or caravan and immediately relax. We have a number of these places and Southport is one of them that we often visit in the winter months.
There are a couple of options for parking your campervan when staying in Southport. The Caravan and Motorhome Club Site tends to be our preferred option as we seek peace and quiet. Since it’s refurbishment some years ago this site has plenty of space and two sanitary blocks and is only a few minutes walk from the town. The other option is the car park next to Pleasureland funfair. This level hard-standing area is free or £3 for a hook-up and a good budget option but it can be crowded and noisy.
Southport has a long promenade and walking along here is my top favourite thing to do and we will usually get out to do this as soon as our arrival brew is finished. The sands are vast at Southport and the sea can seem a long way away and looking to the west you get a sense of space that is stunning. We will usually take in the 1,000 metre long pier too if it is open and stand above the sands. In winter we will look out for waders along the shoreline or we might wait for one of Southport’s spectacular sunsets. The end of the Marine Lake is a good place to take an about turn and follow the inland shore of the lake, occasionally stopping to watch the ducks and swans and taking a wander through King’s Gardens.
Our next stop will be the town centre. A stroll under the wrought-iron canopies of Lord Street is a real Southport experience. We are not big on shopping but if you are then there is plenty here to look around. We usually look for a cafe and last time we visited we warmed up in Remedy, an independent cafe. The cafe is situated in a mock-Victorian glass house in the gardens in front of the Town Hall. It is a cosy and relaxing cafe where on a winter’s afternoon you can snuggle up with a hot chocolate spiced up with your choice of alcohol and read a newspaper or choose a board game. We people watched and had a spirited couple of games of dominoes.
On our next walk we will take in Victoria Park, a large green space near to the campsite and follow the Queen’s Jubilee Nature Trail, an interesting area of old sand dunes and bushes.
Trips to Southport are generally on the spur of the moment. Most recently we were so stressed by our house moving we packed and went on a whim. We never plan to be there for a particular event but there is often something going on in Southport. Our visits have coincided with firework displays, the Christmas lights switch on and in the summer months we have visited the popular flower show. Southport also has attractions such as Pleasureland, the British Lawnmower Museum and a Model Railway Village.
When we have taken our bicycles to Southport we have followed the cycle route south down the coast and into the woodland around Formby. The cycle path is noisy along the busy main road but once you are among the trees it is blissful. The sandy paths meander up and down the old dunes, through tall pine trees. When we don’t have the bikes we park the ‘van in one of the spacious National Trust car parks [we are not members and so have to pay the £7.50] and take a walk through this wonderful area.
If you have never been to Formby before I almost envy you that first sight of the long sweep of beach, backed by sand dunes and coastal pinewoods. The scenery and the wildlife here is very special and it is the perfect place for a walk or just to sit. In spring you might spot a great crested newt in one of the ponds among the dunes and in the summer there are plenty of butterflies. Many people come to Formby because this is a stronghold of red squirrels and these are here all year round but recently it has become more difficult to see them. Squirrel pox is a highly infectious disease that has been found among this threatened group of red squirrels and the National Trust are discouraging visitors from feeding the squirrels as this brings them together and helps the infection spread. But stay a while and you might be lucky and spot one of these beautiful animals.
The National Trust provide a map showing different trails of various lengths around Formby and there are toilets and usually a refreshment van near the main car park. The beach is always a magnet for visitors and you rarely have it to yourself but there is enough room for everyone. If you seek solitude then follow one of the less trodden paths and you will soon discover your own Formby.
Tell me your own no-sweat campervan trips.