Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Lancashire Coastal Way - Freckleton to Lytham St Annes

View across the Ribble estuary

A 10 mile walk along the Lancashire Coastal Way from Freckleton to Lytham.

The Lancashire Coastal way is a 137 mile footpath following the coastline between Merseyside and Cumbria. The starting point is at the little village of Freckleton which lies midway between Preston and Lytham St Annes on the Ribble Estuary. This first section through to Lytham follows the estuary along the salt marshes and alongside the Warton airbase. Views can be seen across the estuary towards Southport and beyond are the hills of Wales. A fine days walk that takes one from river to coast.

Freckleton to Lytham Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Freckleton View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Lytham View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
10.0 miles
Walk difficulty


The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. The links include published hard copy as well as online plots and downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map
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Online Ordnance Survey Route
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Online OpenStreetMap Route
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Online Google Route
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ViewRanger App Route
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GPX data for route (download)


Highbank Farm, Poulton Le Fylde Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Highbank Farm, Poulton Le Fylde - a friendly and compact little site.


Details of public transport that is required for the walk

StageCoach - Bus Service
Service Details
68 - StageCoach Service 68 from Blackpool to Preston
Blackpool Transport - Bus Service
Service Details
2 - Blackpool Bus Service from Poulton to Blackpool

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
14:30 to 19:00
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Started off sunny but clouds came over during the walk. Cool

Walk Notes

There are numerous bus stops on the Lytham Road through Freckleton but one needs the closest to the Preston Old Road which diverges off to the right and marks the start of this walk. There is a short walk through the town to the start of the Lancashire Coastal Way which follows the Dow Brook followed by the Freckleton Pool down to the River Ribble. On the way we pass the Coach and Horses which is worth taking some time out for a pre walk drink.

The path soon leaves the town, keeping close to the water course as it heads south, past the end of the runway from Warton Aerodrome and down to the area known as the Naze. The land around here is some 14m above sea level and provides some spectacular panoramas across the river estuary it gives some splendid views up the estuary. The path then descends down to the marshy shoreline which is followed all the way through to Lytham.

It is easy to see from the debris, flotsam and jetsam along this stretch that some high tides and storm surges can make this section impassable. As well as the usual human detritus such as buckets and, bottles and containers, tyres and wheels are huge tree trunks that have obviously been carried down from who knows where, maybe the Lancashire hills or even from its source in the Pennines. At the time of this walk it would appear that the floods had been more recent with particularly muddy sections and broken boardwalks. These sections were liberally scattered with makeshift stepping stones of planks, and various debris, purposefully placed by other walkers who had navigated along this section.

On the eastern side of the Warton Aerodrome the path follows a creek up to the main road and on the opposite side of the creek is a defence bank making for easier and firmer walking through to the next Creek at Lytham Dock. There used to be ship building along this creek, the Lytham Shipbuilding and Engineering Co being set up at the end of the 19th century and lasting through until the mid 1950's. These days the creeks are home to an assortment of pleasure craft and sailing vessels.

There is a short walk along the main road and the scenery slowly turns from river estuary to open sea. On the landward side Lytham turns into Lytham St Annes, an amalgamation of the old St Annes on the Sea, a 19th century planned town built by businessman Elijah Hargreaves to provide holiday accommodation for the mill workers of Lancashire. The town was built using a grid system with its principle roads all named after Saints. The town boasts a small pier and it is here we head inland, through to the Trawl Boat Inn on Wood Street for food and drinks before catching the bus back to camp from the top of the road.

Coach and Horses, Freckleton
Coach and Horses, Freckleton


The walk is easy to follow with a few waymarkers to point the walker in the right direction. It is just a case of following the estuary and then the seafront.

Freckleton to Lytham

From Frecleton village centre take Trinity Close, the Preston Old Road until it turns a sharp left. Here, turn right down Bunker Street and continue past the Ship Inn and onto the footpath. This eventually leads down to the marsh alongside the River Ribble. Keep to the path at the marshes edge all the way through to the end of Warton air base where the route heads inland. There is a brief diversion to the main road before it heads out again along the sea defences coming back onto the main road at the start of Lytham. Once again, head back out alongside the boatyard and alongside the creek before coming onto the main road yet again. Follow the road down to the sea front and just keep walking.

Negotiating the saltmarsh debrisObstacle course in front of the Warton Airbase
On the left Negotiating the saltmarsh debris; On the right Obstacle course in front of the Warton Airbase


Coach and Horses, Freckleton View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Coach and Horses, Freckleton

The Coach and Horses opened in 1824-25 and almost certainly owes its origins to the trade using the marsh road. In earlier times it served as a staging inn for travellers from Preston to Blackpool. It is now a family run pub offering food and guest ales. There is a beer garden at the rear of the pub and a heated smoking shelter.


A warm a friendly local with an interesting couple of guest ales being served - My Lady's Fancy, a full bodied golden ale from Titanic brewery in Stafford and Wandle ale, a refreshing golden beer with a crisp delicate bitterness from Sambrook's, a London micro brewery. We were given a sample of each before we chose.

Trawl Boat Inn, Lytham View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub

The name of this Wetherspoons establishment is taken from a former pub on the corner of Heyhouses Lane and North Houses Lane which was owned by the Clifton family. The building still stands, but has long since been converted into two homes. The original Trawl Boat Inn had a colourful history. The earliest date of the building on record is 1822 when it was a popular call-in-point for travellers on the wagon road from Blackpool to Lytham. It was closed by Eleanor Clifton after the staff were caught drinking in the kitchen when they were supposed to be working.


You have to admire the fact that Wetherspoons offers some great local ales. On this occasion they had several George Wright Brews of which we tried two: Pure Blonde and Northern Lights, both pale coloured ales and very drinkable.

Lytham Windmill
Lytham Windmill


Warton AirbaseView in OS Map | View in Google Map

During the Second World War Warton was used as an American Air Base whose principle job was to receive new aircraft from the USA and modify them for operational use. At the end of the war the base was reverted to an RAF station before it was taken over by English Electric in 1947. Today it is in possession of BAE and has been used as a testing ground for aircraft including the Canberra, the Lightning, the Sepecat Jaguar, the Panavia Tornado and BAE Hawk and most recently the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The airbase bore witness to the unfortunate Freckleton air disaster on 23 August 1944. During a violent storm, an American B-24 Liberator heavy bomber attempting to land at the airbase aborted the procedure at the last minute in order to make another approach. As the aircraft headed round its wingtip clipped a tree and was ripped away as it impacted with the corner of a building. The fuselage came down in the village partially demolishing three houses and the Sad Sack Snack Bar, before crossing Lytham Road and bursting into flames. A part of the aircraft hit the infants wing of Freckleton Holy Trinity School killing all but 3 of the pupils. A total of 23 adults and 38 children were killed in the disaster, including the 3 crew members and 14 servicemen in the snack bar.


Lytham Windmill View in OS Map | View in Google Map

The Lytham windmill was built by the Squire of Lytham in 1805 on an area of ground known as Lytham Marsh. It is thought that the machinery dated from even earlier times and was salvaged from other disused mills in the area. With the coming of the railways Lytham became a resort and the windmill became a curiosity on the seafront. Then a tragedy occurred on January 1st 1919 when a severe gale caused the sails of Lytham Mill to run out of control despite the powerful brake. Sparks from the brake soon ignited the building and fanned by the strong wind the flames engulfed the interior and destroyed the cap and sails and most of the machinery which was made of wood. ln 1921 the Windmill was given to the people of Lytham by the Squire of Lytham, John T. Clifton. The shell was restored and given a new cap and a set of dummy sails. Since this time the mill has been used as a cafe, as H.Q. for Lytham Cruising Club, the Motorboat Club and the Sea Cadets and was once an Electricity Board sub—station. Renovations i the 1970's and 1980's have restored the windmill to its present state and it is now a museum with free admission.

The Trawl Boat Inn, Lytham
The Trawl Boat Inn, Lytham


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on an image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2019-01-19

2011-05-30 : Initial publication
2017-03-04 : General website updatesd
2019-01-19 : General website updates and rewrite of notes


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