Most of Walney's coast consists of salt marshes and nature reserves, there being one at either end of the island.
North Walney reserve is home to the natterjack toad, that rare breed that seems to love this area. We even have toad crossing signs.
This reserve extends from the airfield to the very northen extremity of Walney and incorporates some magnificent sand dunes and Walney's most popular beach at Earnsie Bay. Walk away from the popular part of the beach and head for the sand-dunes. Miles of empty beach and countryside. Some great views are to be had from the tops of the higher sand-dunes.
South Walney's reserve is home to over 60,000 birds, both nesting and migrating. At times, you must wear a hat and carry a stick to fend off attacking, nesting gulls. The noise is incredible.
There is a circular walk round the reserve where you get great views of Piel Island from and a short-cut which leads you through the old gravel pits which is now an oyster farm.
The lighthouse here has only recently become unmanned, in 2003 and is now a private dwelling.
Naturally, being an island, there are going to be beaches on Walney. On the west are long, sandy, flat beaches interspersed with patches of stone, with stoney bankings. These stone bankings are a real sun trap on a hot, still day. When the wind's blowing, build yourself a windbreak from the stones.
On the east is Walney channel and the salt marshes. No beaches on this side.
Most have parking available and the most popular are Biggar Bank, with a playground and restaurant, Earnsie Bay with toilets, parking and shop, as well as a large mobile home site and West Shore with parking and a golf course.
Head to the south and there are a few turn-offs to parts of the coast, with no facilities other than parking.
All beaches face west and on clear days, the Isle of Man and even Ireland can be seen. Another landmark is Blackpool Tower and the Pleasure Beach's Big One, ( a roller coaster.)You can also see Blackpool Illuminations in the autumn.
Walney channel has a public slipway for boat launching. There is also one at Earnsie Bay and small boats can be launched from any of the beaches. You have to bear in mind that once the tide starts to recede, it goes out a heck of a long way and if you have no means of transporting your boat across the sand, then it is extremely hard work. Some folk seem to enlist the help of local folk with tractors who haul their boats and trailers off the beach. For us, who have to man-handle our boat, it's a matter of catching the tide at the right moment, when it's almost high tide and returning just as it's on the turn. This way, we haven't too far to carry the boat back to the car.
There is bait digging to be done from the beaches at low water for lug worm and rag worm. As this is quite hard work, I am quite happy to let Nick do the digging while I spot the worms he's unearthed!!!
Every year there is a round the island yacht race, which is quite a spectacle, particularly if it's blowing a gale!!