Crosby Beach is one of my favourite beaches on earth, it’s not a sexy beach in traditional landscape senses but it is a happy beach, an artistic beach and a very handy beach. When Mr Thrifty and I first moved in together (8 years ago this month!) we barely had two brass farthings to rub together but we still managed to find the money for the (admittedly fairly cheap) super quick train journey out to Crosby from our tiny little flat in Liverpool.
Crosby Beach is a long expanse of beach standing astride the join of the Irish Sea and the River Mersey. It is blessed with views of Liverpool’s famous skyline, the industrialised docklands, the Wirral, the long stretch of gold sands at Formby and if it’s a particularly clear day – a view of Welsh mountains out into the very distance. There’s a heck of a lot to see and take in. Ferries and cargo ships glide their way from sea to river to port as you stroll along the sands. The boats seem dangerously close to the beach at certain times of the day – you can almost wave to the passengers. I enjoy postcard pretty beaches as much as the next camera toting blogger but there’s something special about seeing industry, urban landscapes, tourism and houses dotted out in the distance whilst you’re taking some time out.
In 2007 a temporary art installation called Another Place by Antony Gormley became a permanent feature of the Crosby Beach landscape. Another Place is made up of 100 iron casts of Gormley, each standing at 6ft 2 (the same height as Mr Thrifty), facing out to sea and spanning 2 miles of the 3 mile long beach, at varying distances away from the shore.
As the tide brings the sea in many (if not all, depending on the tides on that day) of the statues are completely submerged by water. As the sea washes back out, you can slowly see specks of humanity cropping up in the water. First of all little bald strokes of head with water slopping back and forth until whole heads appear in the water as if disembodied. Next shoulders start to appear, as heads further out in the water make an appearance and before you know it you can make your way down to the sands and roam among the men.
I’ve been to this beach at least fifty times and each time the statues make me feel something a little different thanks to the weather, the tide or the season. I suppose that is a sign of good art right there, huh? More often than not, at first I feel the statues urge me to stand in their same stance and look out to sea in a contemplative fashion for a moment or two before strolling off down the sand to watch more and more men appear in front of me.
Last weekend we went to a vintage fair at Speke Hall in Liverpool and afterwards we drove a few short miles to meet friends at the beach for a sunny evening walk, cakes and a beer or two. Jarvis enjoyed the water a lot more than he did when we visited West Kirby last month mainly because it was a good bit warmer. Hilariously he was running in the 2-3 inch deep water chasing seagulls when he strayed a little bit further and accidentally plunged into a water covered dip in the sand. On a regular sized dog this may have covered half a leg but 6lb Jarvis was instantly completely submerged and the look of shock/excitement/bewilderment on his face when he pushed his face through the water is something I will carry with me to the grave. He swam out, took two seconds to throw a disgruntled sniff our way before turning round and jumping straight back in!
I definitely recommend this beach as a free day out. If you’re anything like us you’ll spend ages inspecting each of Gormley’s statues which takes hours. Add in the joy of sitting on the grass verge in the carpark watching the tide come in and swallow the men then watching it sift back out again you can definitely have a good, long day here.
Public transport: There are three train stations which are around a 10 minute walk from the beach, including Waterloo, Blundellsands & Crosby and Hall Road – we prefer the latter. For buses check out Merseytravel.