Fairhaven Lake Lytham St Annes

Look Around Fairhaven Lake

Fairhaven Lake is a lovely area on the seafront, where you can enjoy walks, fresh air and watching the wildlife. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and open green spaces, it’s where the Irish Sea meets the estuary of the River Ribble.

You’ll find it near to Granny’s Bay. That’s where Clifton Drive meets the Inner Promenade at the White Church at Ansdell. You can see the White Church at the left of this aerial photo – the lake is behind you in this shot.

Aerial view of new sea defences at Granny's Bay, Lytham St Annes. Photo: Fylde Council
Aerial view of new sea defences at Granny’s Bay, Lytham St Annes. Photo: Fylde Council

The lake extends northwards as far as St Pauls Avenue, where you’ll find the Spitfire Memorial.

This great big outdoor area has plenty of good facilities too. Enjoy traditional amusements and walks, fresh air and the beautiful coastline.

Fairhaven Lake Lytham St Annes, Google map
Fairhaven Lake Lytham St Annes, Google map

At Granny’s Bay there’s plenty of on-street parking on the seafront. If you prefer, there’s also a pay and display car park at Stanner Bank.

Sunny days at the lake
Sunny days at the lake

Or if you prefer you can travel by public transport. Ansdell and Fairhaven railway station isn’t far away, just a short way along Woodlands Road.

You can enjoy a few hours or a full day here. There’s the coast on one side and a beautiful green park on the other. Get an ice cream or hot drink from one of the little take-aways, or enjoy refreshments at one of the cafes near the lake. Plus, of course, there are public toilets!

Enjoy your Visit to Fairhaven Lake

It’s a lovely walk on the footpath around the seaward side of the lake, especially on a nice day.

Fairhaven Lake Lytham St Annes
Fairhaven Lake Lytham St Annes

There are occasional events held in the car park here. This is a previous Classic Car Show (below).

Classic car show at Fairhaven Lake. Photo: James Brookes
Classic car show at Fairhaven Lake. Photo: James Brookes

Looking back towards Church Scar from the footpath on the seaward side of Fairhaven Lake (below) you can just see the tower of the White Church in the distance.

Did you know? It’s a knockout was filmed at Fairhaven Lake!

Peace and Quiet

The further you walk around the lake footpath the quieter it gets. If you like peace and quiet and a fabulous view, then this is the place for you.

Peace and quiet at Fairhaven Lake
Peace and quiet at Fairhaven Lake

Views over the Sea

The Irish Sea and Ribble estuary also meet here. When the weather is clear there are amazing views across the bay to the Southport area (below).

View of Southport from Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes
View of Southport from Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes

Slightly beyond you can also see north Wales. Of course you’ll also see plenty of spectacular west coast sunsets and evening sunshine all throughout the year.

The Visitor Centre

Fylde Council secured National Lottery Heritage Funding in December 2018 for the new RSPB Fairhaven Lake Visitor Centre.

The new visitor hub is run in partnership by the RSPB and Fylde Council, and opens on Friday 29th April 2021. It’s open from 10am-5pm daily.

The new RSPB Visitor Centre (formerly called the Ribble Discovery Centre) is still be home to the RSPB shop. It also now includes new interactive information boards. They tell the story of Fairhaven’s development from shingle bank to boating lake. The centre celebrates the areas natural heritage and its rich history. Inside, the building has been fully restored, exposing the original vaulted ceiling and heritage features.

RSPB Discovery Centre at Fairhaven Lake
RSPB Discovery Centre at Fairhaven Lake before restoration

This is the first building of the exciting restoration project to be opened. The new watersport centre is due to open later in May 2021 and the restored café in July. This follows the successful excavation of the Japanese garden and landscape works completed last winter.

The project is supported through the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and National Lottery Community Fund. It aims to:

  • conserve and restore Fairhaven’s heritage buildings and landscape,
  • improve the lake’s infrastructure and water quality,
  • provide an exciting new programme of events. With new information boards to help visitors better understand Fairhaven’s heritage.

Other funding bodies to the overall project include Fylde Council, Sport England & Lancashire Environmental Fund.

Boating at Fairhaven Lake
Boating at Fairhaven Lake
Fairhaven Lake cafe
Fairhaven Lake cafe

A little further north, just behind these buildings, you’ll find a children’s playground and a Crazy Golf Course. They’re next to the Bowling Greens, with the Lake carrying on behind to the Spitfire Memorial.

Continue towards St Annes to find well equipped tennis courts and, a little further along, the skate park.

It’s a haven for wildlife and somewhere for migrant birds to shelter from the worst of the rough prevailing weather. And it’s a year-round home to ducks and swans.

Did you know? The lake is just over 1m deep at its deepest point. It’s a managed space and well maintained.

Swans and cygnets at Fairhaven Lake Lytham St Annes
Swans and cygnets at Fairhaven Lake Lytham St Annes

Did you know? There have even been otter sightings on the island at the lake!

Spitfire Memorial

By now you’ve just about reached the northern end of the lake as it snakes around the back of the public facilities.

Spitfire Memorial at Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes
Spitfire Memorial at Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes

You’ll then find the Spitfire Memorial and the picnic area that’s enjoyed by many. Here, you’re at St Paul’s Avenue, which is also where you’ll find more pay and display parking.

Sea Wall Construction Works

Construction of a new sea defence is now complete at Fairhaven Lake, Granny’s Bay and Church Scar in Lytham St Annes. The scheme is designed to protect thousands of homes from flooding.

We went to take a look, just after it opened in summer 2020 –

The new sea defence walls at Church Scar and Fairhaven have cost £17.5m, paid for by the Environment Agency. The project also includes the construction of new promenades.

Sea Defence Work at Fairhaven Lake and Church Scar
Artists Impression of Sea Defence Work at Fairhaven Lake and Church Scar. It looks just like this!

What do you think?

Hilary from Accrington got in touch to say how much she’d enjoyed her visit to the newly completed sea wall at Fairhaven. Here’s what she said:

My husband and I have enjoyed coming to Lytham for many years. Either to walk around the shops, through the gardens or just get fish ‘n’ chips and sit looking over the boating pool at the lake.

Whilst we have been self isolating (my husband is shielded) we’ve obviously missed our runs out. Weve waited with anticipation and once he was allowed to go out (in the car) Lytham was our first port of call. It was safe for him and somewhere to sit and enjoy.

Weve also waited with anticipation to see the completion of the regeneration of Fairhaven Lake. Knowing it was to be fully opened we came to have a look. ‘Wow’ does not do it justice, but can I just say how wonderful it is.

First, besides the fantastic finish, can I say what pleased me so much was the parking. There is, I would say, 3 times more places but the number of disabled spots is wonderful. And the fact that they are spread out along the causeway to give different outlooks is so thoughtful.

It was extremely busy when we visited so we could only sit by the car, again plenty of benches. But when it’s a little quieter we can use our walkers and have such a pleasant walk. That’s worth its weight in gold. Two brave souls were actually swimming from the end of the causeway, and there were two fishermen, which is the first time we’ve ever seen that.

Well done to everyone concerned and I hope the regeneration brings back the visitors and much needed funds the lovely town deserves.

Activities to Enjoy

We’ve already mentioned the facilities and activities you can enjoy in the area. They include:

  • Bowling Greens
  • Skate Park
  • Children’s Playground

Proposal For a New Launch for the Lake

The Friends of Fairhaven Lake are proposing that a new, electric powered pleasure cruiser of a style more fitting the lake would complete the renovation project.

The present boat is the “Jubilee”. It’s not a launch and although functional it doesn’t match its predecessors in quality of design or visual appeal.

Watch this space!

Fairhaven Adventure Golf

Opened in summer 2020, this new adventure golf course is great for all ages!

New Adventure Golf Course - opened in 2020. Photo: Sue Massey
New Adventure Golf Course – opened in 2020. Photo: Sue Massey

It’s a brilliant course – fun and educational. You’ll learn lots about the area and the wildlife. The holes feature local landmarks and there are historical/descriptive plaques. At the Lytham Hall hole, you aim for the main door.

Lytham Hall at the Adventure Golf. Photo: Sue Massey
Lytham Hall at the Adventure Golf. Photo: Sue Massey
Lytham Hall at the Adventure Golf. Photo: Sue Massey
Lytham Hall at the Adventure Golf. Photo: Sue Massey

There are carvings of birds, again with information boards, and that particular bird’s song plays as you approach. It’s all very clever – why don’t you pay it a visit!

Blackpool & Fylde Model Boat Club meet at the North West end of the Lake, adjacent to St.Pauls Avenue Car Park. They meet from April to October, weather permitting. Sailing sessions are Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 6pm until dusk.

Ribble Cruising Club sometimes hold Try Sailing events on the lake. Why don’t you give it a go?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our armchair guide to Fairhaven Lake. Better still why don’t you pick a fine and sunny day and go out and explore for yourself!

School Visits to Fairhaven Lake

The RSPB can offer trips for your school.

The Ribble Discovery Centre is run in partnership with Fylde Borough Council. It’s a unique hands-on and fun learning experience where children of all ages can get close to nature.

The Centre has a large learning space which you can use, with each programme designed to last two hours. Sessions run from 10am to 12pm and then 12.30 to 2.30pm. Two programmes can be combined to make a whole-day visit.  Book your visit here

The History of Fairhaven Lake

There were two banks of shingle, just offshore in the Fairhaven area. They stretched from St Annes to Granny’s Bay and tailed off in a crescent shape. These banks were known as the ‘Doubler Stanner’. To build the lake the ‘Double Stanner’ was sealed off and the site enclosed, so trapping the sea water.

This was around the time when Thomas Riley rented the land to build the new town of Fairhaven in the 1890s.

This work was done in 1892 and the lake first filled in August 1893. The project was finished by 1896.

Flooding in the past

Those Victorian engineers also planned to extend the sea wall, lake and gardens to the Grand Hotel in St Annes, adding a grand carriage drive. Sadly they had to abandon their plans because of repeated flooding.

Lord Ashton (he of Ashton Gardens) bought it and presented it to the Lytham St Annes Corporation, so it was called Ashton Marine Park until the 1960’s. The newly formed Borough of Lytham St Annes employed Mawson to landscape the surrounding area. But not all of Mawson’s grand ideas were incorporated into the scheme.

Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes
Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes

The Cafe was originally built as the Clubhouse for Fairhaven Golf Club. It predates all the other buildings in the area. The Golf Club retreated inland after a huge flood in 1896.

Old photo of rowing boats on the lake
Old photo of rowing boats on the lake. Photo: Fylde Council

Did you know? That Regattas were held on the lake from 1900. The last one was held in 1972 when the Borough of Lytham St Annes was formed.

Over the years, visitors have been able to enjoy a sailing trip around the lake on two different motor launches. Both boats were elegant cruisers capable of carrying more than ten passengers.

Sailing around the Lake. Photo: Fylde Council
Sailing around the Lake. Photo: Fylde Council
  • In 1925 the ‘Fairhaven’ was launched. An immediate success, visitors flocked to take a trip around the lake in it.
  • The second boat, ‘My Fair Lady’ launched in 1959 with similar popularity.

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7 thoughts on “Look Around Fairhaven Lake”

  1. Hi, why are there rarely any boats on the lake, no sailing, windsurfing or anything? All I see now are info boards saying how much fun people used to have. Surely the council can be more imaginative? Reduce prices considerably and organise something?

  2. Jane we’ve just been round fairhaven lake today and they are getting on with the Japanese garden any chance you can do a vlog on any updates regards. M

  3. lovely place to stay or visit Lancashire is my second home just a great part of the world Blackpool Morecambe Lytham Southport and Fleetwood Knott end Bispham and not forgetting Cleveleys are fantastic whatever time of the year all the videos are nice to view on a very cold night at home in winter or lockdown they make my day compleat many thanks to the team at the rabbit patch productions

  4. At last the sea wall defence scheme is complete and is open to the public again. Well where do I start, my impressions I must say are not very favourable . The new grass area at granny’s bay is so full of hard shrubby weeds they cause a danger for anyone walking across. The sea wall around the sea side of the lake does not have any kind of barrier to protect anyone from possibly accidentally or otherwise falling down this very steep concrete staircase. It seems a shame that whoever designed this project had not the foresight to see such obvious danger. Thank you. Lytham resident

  5. It is usually a nice walk around the lake but part way round on New Year’s Eve (walking round anticlockwise from the RSPB shop) there are notices saying the path is closed “beyond Stanner bank car park”, which suggested that we could do the usual full circuit, but found the path was closed roughly half way along Granny’s Bay side of the lake so had to turn back.

    Please keep the notices up to date as there may be some people who can manage the normal circuit but would find it too far if they got more than half way round and had to turn back.

    1. Lovely place great facilities. Couldnt believe the amount of bird muck around. So many Canada geese leaving their mess on the paths and grass and by the lakeside. Theyre like lots of small dog turds all over the place. Disgusting wouldnt let my kids play there.
      Shame really it’s so much going for it. Clean it up please.!

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