There are many places around the British coast where signs of early human habitation have been found - the remains of an early tool, a burial chamber, human bones for example. However, Formby has something rather different. At Formby Point when the tide is low human footprints can be made out in the mud. These have been dated to the late Neolithic era 7,000 years ago, and were probably made by the hunter-gatherers who roamed the area at that time. Animal footprints have also been discovered there, made by a variety of creatures including deer and wolf. Formby Point is part of the Sefton Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is characterised by extensive sand flats and dunes. This is a rewarding area for walkers who like an interesting view: as well as the ships going in and out of the Mersey the mountains of North Wales can be discerned on the horizon. Wildlife enthusiasts are in for a treat in the woodlands near here, where there is a red squirrel sanctuary, while the dunes are home to the natterjack toad.
On the other side of the dunes is the town of Formby, originally a Viking settlement called Fornebei. The town's landmarks include the Church of St Luke, which is 19th century, but some of the graves in the churchyard go back much further. One of the gravestones to be found there is that of Richard Formby, armour-bearer to Henry IV and Henry V - he was known as 'Richard The Giant' due to the fact that he was 7ft tall. Another interesting feature of the churchyard is a cross which originally stood on the village green. During the Plague of 1665 its hollows were filled with vinegar so that coins could be disinfected. One of Formby's streets is called Lifeboat Road, named after the lifeboat station which was built there in 1776, making it Britain's first lifeboat station.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Tom Pennington, via Wikimedia Commons|