A Beachy Adventure: A Day At Formby With the Ponies

Every horse rider dreams of cantering along golden sands with the wind whistling in their hair, and we are lucky enough in the UK to have several great horse-friendly beaches. We live just over an hour’s drive from Liverpool, so for us, there is little better than a day at Formby Beach with the ponies.

Formby Beach is easy to reach off the motorway, and the magnificent shorefront goes on for miles. It is just perfect to give your horse a blast of sea air! Formby Beach and its neighbouring Ainsdale Beach are among the best beaches in England to visit with your pony and are well worth the drive.

A Day At Formby Beach With the Ponies  - Hester and Jackpot get to see the sea for the first time!
Hester and Jackpot get to see the sea for the first time!

Formby Beach With the Ponies: Getting There and Parking

You will approach the beach on the A565, and there are two car parks that can accommodate a horse box. At Formby, the National Trust car park on Lifeboat Rd has plenty of space and is free to park with a National Trust membership or £20 for a horsebox without. As you would expect, the car park is perfectly accessible in a horsebox, but the road to it is quite narrow. The other option is Ainsdale’s Car Park which is £16 for on-beach parking; there are some hard-standing overflow options nearby as well. 

There is no horsebox parking available at the Victoria Road car park.

There are toilet facilities close to the Ainsdale Beach Car Park and, although not advertised as having toilets, when we arrived at the Lifeboat Road car park there were several well-maintained Portaloos available, which were needed after a long drive!  

There is no running water at either car park, so make sure that you take your own water for the horses.  

At Lifeboat Road, there was a coffee van that also served cakes but sadly, there were no ice creams or milkshakes for the girls. At Ainsdale, there is sometimes a burger van and ice cream van but they may not be there mid-week outside of the school holidays. 

One word of warning, on the way back to South Manchester, the Sat Nav diverted us onto M56 to avoid congestion which took us on the Mersey toll bridge. This costs £6 for the horse box and is payable within 24 hours of using the bridge. 

Jackpot gets his feet wet with Eva.

Making The Most of The Trip

It is really important when planning a trip to the beach that you check the tide times; you don’t want to be caught out as it comes in quickly!

Also, the tides here can have a large swell and sometimes the high tide point can reach all the way up to the sand dunes. When this happens there is no beach left to ride on!

Not much to ride on there. Image credit: Colin Lane

Tides permitting, it is best to go early in the morning where possible to avoid the sunbathers and children playing. 

On our last visit, we were making the most of the school strikes so went midweek in term time. We arrived at 10 am and it was reasonably quiet, but by the time we left the beach around 1 pm, it was filling up fast.

Other beach users were generally very considerate but we did have a near miss with a slightly ignorant family flying a kite by the bridal path entrance. We also had a minor run-in with a family who didn’t keep their dog under control and ran up barking at the ponies. 

At the Lifeboat Road car park, the horse access to the beach is back through the big yellow gates at the entrance and then turn right at the edge of the woodland.  This route avoids the boardwalks and brings you out well away from the pedestrian-only area.  

The girls and ponies were bursting with excitement by the time we got tacked up and the 5-minute walk down to the beach was useful to settle the ponies down a bit. The last stretch of the path is up over the dunes before you finally drop down onto the beach.  We took a minute to take this spectacular view in before heading down.  

Taking the bit between her teeth, Hester powers across the sand with Georgia!

We were advised to stay out of the flagged, life-guarded area further up the beach, but this didn’t impinge us at all.  The lifeguards patrolled on a quad bike, and we were pleasantly surprised to see how sensible they were around the horses so as not to frighten them, which was very much appreciated.

Our girls are 7 and 9 years old, and whilst they are both confident off the lead rein, we were still pretty cautious and prepared to put them on the lead if needed.  

Both their ponies are nine years old and we have had them since they were foals so they have been ‘Spencer’ educated and not too much phases them!  We did think that this experience might blow their tiny minds, but gladly, we were proven wrong, and they were absolute stars!  

We started the girls off at the top of the beach on a large circle, ensuring they could turn and stop easily before heading down to a small run-off to play in the water.  Neither pony had done much water splashing before, but they just ploughed straight in.  This was where the fun really began.  We spent ages with the girls looping around and through the water. It was great for them to be free to do what they wanted and go where they wanted.

After a while, we decided to head down to the sea – they were slightly more cautious about dipping their hooves in here.  The never-ending expanse of water and lapping waves looked very suspicious to them! After a few minutes, they were in and splashing with the best of them.  

Heading back to the wagon after a great day at Formby beach with the ponies

Overall we had an amazing time, and the experience for ponies and children was incredible.  

The drive is quite long for us, but there are good motorway links which make it easy. The arrival and parking were straightforward forward, which was great as the last thing you need when you arrive somewhere with horses is stress and confusion.  We tacked up and were directed the right way to the beach by the National Trust team members, who were set up at the entrance of the car park. 

It is a lovely clean, open, sandy beach.  We will definitely be back this summer both with and without ponies!

If you are looking for other great ideas for a family day out (without the ponies!) then take a look at our articles on Planet Ice Altrincham and Chester Zoo

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Thanks.

About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

We hate intrusive adverts as much as you do, so we keep our site ad-free. If you enjoy the blog or have found something helpful, you can say "thanks" by buying us a coffee! Just click the button below.

Leave a comment