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Ainsdale Discovery Centre

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The Ainsdale and Birkdale Sandhills Local Nature Reserve stands as one of the last extensive wild dune landscapes in Britain. Established in 1980, this reserve spans across 988 hectares, encompassing sprawling open dunes and beachfronts. Its landscape mirrors the typical sand dune systems, featuring towering dune ridges and valleys, known as slacks, formed by wind action.


These slacks, often waterlogged during winter, house a variety of rare and unique plants and animals, providing ideal breeding habitats for species like the Natterjack toads.

The reserve boasts a diverse array of plant life. Throughout summer, the damp slacks burst into a colorful display with blooms of Early-marsh Orchids, Marsh Helleborines, and Grass of Parnassus. In drier slacks, visitors may encounter the Round-leaved Wintergreen and the nationally rare Dune Helleborine.

The Velvet Trail, a circular route tracing the Green Beach from Weld Road southwards and winding through the dunes back to Weld Road, derives its name from the lush vegetation that carpets the area during early summer months. This trail was once a prominent attraction at the coast during the turn of the century.

Offering a circular walk through the reserve, the dune trail leads visitors through a diverse range of habitats, showcasing the reserve's rich biodiversity.

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