Walk: Point of Ayr, Flintshire
Discover a lonely old lighthouse on the north coast of Wales and watch thousands of seabirds wheeling on a rising tidy
At the Point of Ayr, the golden sands of north-east Wales meet the estuarine mudflats of the River Dee, where huge numbers of waders and wildfowl gather in the winter months. This is the northernmost point of mainland Wales, the site of an 18th-century lighthouse. The dunes, beach and saltmarsh are best explored in the winter and form the basis of an exhilarating short walk, just right for Boxing Day.
Point of Ayr lighthouse
The lighthouse was built in 1776 as an aid for mariners approaching the Dee Estuary from the north and west. Trinity House took it over in the 1820s and added a new lantern. The building has weathered many storms, been used for numerous purposes, including a holiday home, and is said to be haunted by the last lighthouse keeper.
Point of Ayr wildlife
Along the shore, dodging the waves, silver sanderlings dash about snatching small crustaceans. Flocks of dunlins rise and fall ahead of you, while snow buntings feed at the back of the beach.
You can walk out to the RSPB hide, overlooking a spit where, in winter, before high tide, thousands of waders and wildfowl congregate. Oystercatchers, knots, black-tailed godwits, curlew and dunlin are joined by sleek pintail ducks with long tail feathers, teals and shelducks. Meanwhile, peregrines flap and glide above the flocks, hunting a likely victim, tiny merlins rush low over the marsh, capturing their prey in flight.
Point of Ayr walk
3.2 miles/5.1km | 2 hours | easy
1. Warren wander
The walk starts at Station Road car park in Talacre. Make your way to the end of the road and turn left along the cycleway/walkway signposted Gronant. The track passes through The Warren, where you may spot redwings, stonechats and fieldfares.
2. Dune life
After about half a mile, bear right, heading north on a footpath signposted for the beach. At a fork, turn right through the sand dunes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest known for its wildlife, including sand lizards. You may glimpse a scurrying field vole.
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3. Lighthouse view
After emerging on to the beach, turn right to pass the lighthouse and, at a flagpole, walk up to a viewing platform on top of the dunes. Continue on a raised path to the road end.
4. Hide and seek
To visit the bird hide, continue along the embankment signposted Ffynnongroyw. You will pass above mudflats and a channel before veering left to the bird hide. To return to the car park, walk back the way you came then along the road.
Point of Ayr map
Dorothy Hamilton is a freelance writer who has been writing about exploring the countryside for over twenty years.