fairhaven lake and lytham estuary walk

Walking Fairhaven Lake to Lytham Windmill

We’ve been lucky this year. After 2 years of going nowhere due to Covid, we’ve managed to get in 3 stays on the coast – Tenby, Lowestoft and now Lytham. UK seaside might seem like a simple holiday, but sometimes simple holidays are the best. The latest was our stay in Lytham St Annes.

Lytham St Annes is just a few miles from the hustle and bustle of Blackpool. If you’re after a quieter, more serene than brash seaside town, this is the part you want to head to. Lytham St Annes comprises St Annes on the Sea, Ansdell, Fairhaven and Lytham.

fairhaven lake and lytham estuary walk

We stayed in the Hy Hotel opposite the Ashton Gardens. It was near enough to walk 5 minutes to the beach, and you could walk the coastal walk to the River Ribble estuary. For us doing the 3 miles to Lytham was probably too far, with having to return as well. I’d be pushing it with an 11 year old moaning about aching legs. So we decided to park at Stanner Bank next to Fairhaven Lake and make the most of what was there before walking to Lytham.

Fairhaven Lake

We arrived just before 9 (we were first in the car park, as it opens and starts charging from 9), and walked a little along the water before nipping in to walk around Fairhaven Lake.

seated portrait on the coastal side at fairhaven

N took charge of my camera (always a good way to keep him entertained). There’s interesting world war 2 history in the area so he enjoyed reading about that.

fairhaven lake

We were able to get quite close to some swans and their ‘teen’ cygnets.

swans and cygnets

The lake looked gorgeous in the morning sun, and I wished we’d brought our tennis gear. They have plenty of tennis courts around Lytham, and had a couple of really nice hard and very green grass courts (compared to the yellow grass of ones used for our local tennis festival back home).

walking the stepping stones

N was interested in the replica spitfire which they’d fundraised for. It’s all tied into the area’s history, which also included famous pilot Amy Johnson who flew her last journey from nearby RAF Squires Gate in 1941. You can visit the Spitfire Visitor Centre at Hangar 42 in Blackpool to find out more about World War II local history when they’re open to the public. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for that.

replica spitfire at fairhaven
3 canada geese and 1 swan swimming
kayaks and rowing boats at fairhaven lake

We were a bit early for the crazy golf so decided we’d walk on to Lytham, then play when we came back.

The walk along the estuary is only about 1.3 miles, but felt a lot longer. There’s always lots of others out walking, lots with dogs, as well as some cyclists.

walking along estuary and coastal steps
bird murumuration
decorated boat in lytham

It was lovely to enjoy a walk, watch a murmuration of birds flying around. See people driving onto the marshes to move boats and work. There’s some gorgeous buildings along the walk including the United Reform Church.

murmuration of birds at ribble estuary
white church at lytham

Lowther Gardens was on route, but we were on our mission, and N wasn’t to be swayed so we could get back in good time to play mini golf.

We discovered the Mussel Tank and read about the history of that, remembering how they used to store them in the tank for days to get rid of any bacteria and filter out all the nasties from the mussels before selling them.

mussell tank

Lytham Windmill

Lytham windmill is a pretty sight on Lytham Green. There’s free entry to it and you can find out about not only the history of the windmill itself, but also the area, the Clifton family, the lifeboat and general life in the area over the most important parts of its history. Alongside is the old lifeboat house although this wasn’t open when we were there.

lytham windmill

We did get accosted on entry by one of the staff members, who took time to tell us about the different stories around the museum, the Clifton family, the worst lifeboat tragedy and other historical facts about the exhibitions on the ground floor. It was really interesting and although I’d usually prefer just to wander and read myself, N said he found it really useful and liked listening to the man speak. It definitely helped keep him interested in the displays, and we stayed longer than we would have done if we were just wandering around ourselves.

walking around lytham windmill displays
home exhibition at lytham windmill
beach display at lytham windmill

The higher floors going up into the windmill show how the windmill would have worked, and the information about the renovation and bringing back the sails.

1st floor lytham windmill displays
lytham windmill displays

They just ask for a donation, but it’s a lovely museum and worth the time to find out more about the town.

We emerged and it was time to walk back to Fairhaven Lake to go to the cafe and play golf.

N did moan about the walk, but we stopped to get an ice cream on the way back which helped perk him up.

Fairhaven Lakeside Cafe and Fairhaven mini golf

The Lakeside Cafe was the only downside about our day. The cafe itself is lovely – nice views over the lake from inside and some seating out the front. While it would have been nice to sit outside it was a bit windy, and we found there’s always people smoking around the tables area which isn’t pleasant. We noticed later that there were quite a lot of seagulls hovering around and coming in to grab leftover food, so that’s another reason to sit in.

fairhaven lake cafe

It was really busy when we arrived with a long queue out of the door. You need to find a table first before getting food, giving your table number. Luckily we spotted a table for 2 in the window so N grabbed that. Other tables did quite quickly become available.

Lots of people were queuing but then leaving because they had a sign up saying there was a 45 minute wait for food. Thankfully this wasn’t the case for ours. It was probably only 15 minutes if that.

There were panini, toasties and sandwich options, plus some hot food like burgers, fish and chips etc. We just wanted paninis, a couple of drinks and crisps. My chin nearly hit the ground when it cost around £27. £9.50 for a panini. I’m glad I didn’t say yes to chips on side as that would have been an extra £2. I’d have expected to have chips included for that price.

At least we didn’t have to wait as long as some people had to, but the food was disappointing. Certainly not worth the money paid. The mozzarella hadn’t melted, and it was a bit short on filling. It was pretty tasteless. The side salad was basically a couple of leaves and a lot of olives – which neither of us eat. There was a tiny pot of coleslaw which was ok. I wouldn’t expected to pay those prices where we live down south, even in tourist attraction restaurants.

When I looked at the hot meal prices, you were looking at £13 a dish. That’s the kind of prices I’d expect to pay for cheap meals in good foody pubs near us for dinner, not a lunch menu in a cafe.

At least we were sustained for playing mini golf afterwards.

The mini golf was quite a nice course, and well maintained which is nice to see. 18 holes and it wasn’t too expensive. We’d usually play early to avoid places being too busy – with only 2 of us we always get stuck behind bigger slow families. Fairhaven mini golf was very busy but we stuck it out.

crazy golf at fairhavel
fairhaven mini golf course
lytham hall golf hole

Let’s just say N didn’t have a good day of golf that day. Mine went much better. We didn’t know what the par was for the course or each hole like you’d often see, but I was pleased with my round.

Of course we did get held up – the family with two teens 3 ahead of us were the ones holding everyone up. I’m not sure how, given there was a 4 year old in front of us whizzing round, and another family of four going plenty fast enough following the slow family. I think it was the longest game of golf we’ve ever playing. I reckon we were there nearly 1 ¼ hours.

It was good fun though, and nice to play another nice mini golf course.

It might have been a simple day out and mostly good value. When your 11 year old says he had a really good day, you know it’s been a lovely one.

Have you ever visited Lytham?

Like this post, try these other tips for nearby days out.

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