Ainsdale Beach in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

Ainsdale Beach has been named one of Britain’s 50 Best Beaches for 2020 by The Times

Writer Chris Haslam praised the area for its excellent wind sports and for the sandhills nature reserve which runs along Birkdale Ainsdale. 

He wrote: “If you want to pose go to Formby; if you want to play come to Ainsdale, which has established itself as one of the UK’s best beaches for wind sports. Blo-karts, kite-buggies, and wind and kite surfers blow in from across the northwest to whizz along the shore (if you want to join them, obtain a free permit at 

“For peace and quiet, head along the hard-packed sands to Ainsdale and Birkdale Sandhills Nature Reserve, a vast area of dunes and coastal woodland offering a glimpse of what this coast looked like in prehistory.”

Water quality was judged to be good with car parking at £5, toilet facilities, dog friendly and wheelchair accessible, although a lack of refreshments was noted. 

Other North of England beaches to make The Times list this year included: Spurn Head, East Riding; Fraisthorpe, East Riding; Hunmanby Gap, North Yorkshire; Marske-by-the-Sea, Redcar and Cleveland; Druridge Bay, Northumberland; Longhoughton Steel, Northumberland; Ross Back Sands, Northumberland; and Seacote, Cumbria. 

This year’s winning beach is Runswick Sands, North Yorkshire. The winner for 2020 is ‘close to perfection’, with pods of bottlenose dolphins on the horizon plus fossil‑hunting and rock‑pooling on the seemingly endless sands. 

Although much of the area around Ainsdale is in need of redevelopment, with the likes of The Sands pub, Toad Hall and The Lido in need of change, an ‘Ainsdale-on-Sea Visitor Hub’ is among ‘Big Ideas’ mentioned in the Southport Town Deal process. The plan, if progressed, would include: visitor reception facilities, education / interpretation of the Sefton Coast, food and drink offer, cycle hub and facilities and car parking. To share your views or find out more please email or call the consultation hotline number 0808 168 8296.

Ainsdale Beach in Southport. Photo by Brenda Porter

Ainsdale Beach in Southport. Photo by Brenda Porter

In The Times, Chris Haslam wrote: “Over the past 12 years, the Sunday Times Beach Guide has become the definitive gazetteer of the Great British coast. Every spring since 2008 I have hit the beaches from Sennen in Cornwall to Sannick in Scotland, checking key criteria from bathing-water quality to lavatory provision, from car parking to wheelchair access.

“The 50 that make the list — including everything from crowded urban beaches in the south east to deserted rural coves in Wales via the sweeping sands in the north — are not only the best in class in terms of beauty, amenities and cleanliness, but they radiate the seaside magic that every eight-year-old instinctively knows and understands.

“This year, however, my priorities were different — 2020 is no time to play sardines, and this year’s winning beach – Runswick Sands, North Yorkshire – reflects that. So perennially popular dependables such as Tenby, St Ives, Cromer and Bournemouth do not appear and, considering the antipathy towards visitors in some of these resorts, they will be glad of it.

“Instead I have picked 50 less obvious beaches, spread across five regions, so you can keep the love as local as possible. You will need to be more organised, self-sufficient and risk-aware. I’m relying on 2019 results for bathing-water quality and lifeguard provision is much reduced, but all the beaches on the 2020 list offer somewhere safe and spacious on which to lay your towel and build your castle.”

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