Red Rocks, Wirral, all you need to know when visiting

Red Rocks is an SSSI and an area of sand dunes and reed beds west of Hoylake on the Wirral Peninsula. It’s a great place to walk, spot wildlife and watch the sunset. Here’s all you need to know about Red Rocks Wirral.

Red Rocks is one of my favourite places to visit and is often overlooked in Wirral. You’ll find more people heading to West Kirby beach or Hoylake promenade. You can walk to Red Rocks via West Kirby or Hoylake, and we spent hours playing here as kids. I wanted to share more about this magical spot. In this blog post, I’ll take a closer look at what makes Red Rocks so unique, give you further information about the area and let you know how you can visit.


Red Rocks Nature Reserve in Hoylake.
Red Rocks is one of my favourite places to visit and is often overlooked in Wirral. You’ll find more people heading to West Kirby beach or Hoylake promenade.

What is Red Rocks Marsh?

Red Rocks Marsh is a coastal reserve that spans 10 acres. It’s a lovely area for walks and comprises sand dunes, reedbeds and marshes. This is an excellent spot if you’re interested in bird watching. The area attracts a diverse range of migratory birds during spring and autumn, and the reedbed provides a habitat for some wintering birds. The open pools provide a home for the rare Natterjack toad. Plantlife here is also diverse; the reserve is home to more than 50 flowering plants. The reserve is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest partly maintained by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust.


Bird Life at Red Rocks Nature Reserve.
Altogether, over 200 species of birds have been recorded in the area, with up to 170 in a single year.

What types of birds can I spot at Red Rocks Marsh?

The marsh is an excellent site for birdwatching and attracts a considerable variety of migrants on passage in spring and autumn. Altogether, over 200 species of birds have been recorded in the area, with up to 170 in a single year. The reed beds contain breeding Sedge and Reed Warblers in spring and summer and Reed bunting in the reed bed. The dunes often have SkylarksStonechatCommon whitethroat, and Grasshopper warbler. The grasshopper warbler was elevated to red in the Birds of Conservation Concern, while reed bunting has amber status.


Plantlife at the reserve.
Plantlife here is also diverse; the reserve is home to more than 50 flowering plants.

Flora and fauna at Red Rocks Marsh

The main grass species here is Marram grass, with other dune plants like Sea milkwort growing within. Common reed dominates the reedbed, though Sea clubrush is also present in some areas. The reedbed margins are the most botanically diverse part of the reserve, with over 50 flowering plant species recorded, including Parsley piertQuaking grassDanish scurvey grass, Wild asparagus, and various Orchids.

Girl walking through red rocks nature reserve.

A rare Equisetum hybrid here was initially believed to be the elusive Mackay’s horsetail. This new hybrid has a minimal distribution on north Wirral and Anglesey and can be found along the edges of the dune slack at the southern end of the reserve.


Did you know that the only breeding colony of natterjack toads in Wirral can be found at Red Rocks?

Red Rocks is home to the only breeding colony of Natterjack toads in Wirral

The only breeding colony of natterjack toads in Wirral is found at Red Rocks. This species is scarce in Britain and is protected by the 1975 Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act. 

Adult Natterjack toads are 60–70 mm long and can be distinguished from Common toads by a yellow line running down the middle of their backs. This is their key defining characteristic, also seen on the toadlets. They are also smaller and have smaller back legs, allowing them to move quickly. Natterjacks have a very loud and distinctive mating call, amplified by the single vocal sac found under the chin of the males; they are the loudest amphibians in the UK.

Natterjack toad.

Found in sandy habitats with shallow, warm ponds, they prefer coastal areas like sand dune systems, heathland, and coastal marshes. Adult toads retreat into burrows during warm weather and emerge at night to feed on moths. They also feed on woodlice, insects, sandhoppers, and marine invertebrates. Natterjack toads are adept runners and use this ability to catch their prey. The toads are mainly nocturnal animals and spawn between the end of April and July, laying ‘strings’ of eggs in shallow, warm pools.

To ensure the continued success of the breeding pools, active management is necessary to monitor adult toad numbers and spawn. The pools at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club are expertly cut and provide optimal conditions for the toads. Thanks to Tesco funding and the generosity of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, a small interpretation panel is installed next to the Natterjack pools. It features three panels throughout the year, each explaining what’s happening with the Natterjacks during that particular season.


Slipway at Red Rocks beach, Hoylake.
Slipway at Red Rocks beach, Hoylake.

How do you access Red Rocks? Is it free and open to the public?

You can access the reserve and Red Rocks beach for free. Access to the reserve is good; there are slipways from both Hoylake Red Rocks beach (Stanley Road) and West Kirby beach. There is a sand path running through the reserve. Parts of this site may not be suitable for those with limited mobility. Please keep to the foreshore and marked trails/paths. Do not enter the reedbed.

Stanley Rd, Hoylake, Wirral CH47 1HZ


Is Red Rocks dog-friendly?

This area is dog-friendly. If you’re walking in this area with a dog, It’s good to keep to the paths and keep them on a lead so they do not disturb surrounding wildlife. There is plenty of space for dogs to run at Red Rocks beach and West Kirby beach, both are dog friendly.


Girl on an easy walking route that includes Red Rocks Marsh and beach

An easy walking route that includes Red Rocks Marsh and beach

3 miles (5.5 km) | Easy Route | Manor Road to West Kirby

This great walking route follows a section of the Wirral Circular Trail and takes you through the Hoylake Red Rocks Marsh to West Kirby. The walk covers a distance of just over 3 miles. Starting from Manor Road train station in Hoylake, head northwest towards the coast. Once there, you can pick up the Wirral Circular Trail and follow it southwest to Hilbre Point. From there, the route turns south towards West Kirby and ends at Marine Lake, with stunning views of the Welsh Hills on a clear day. If you’re up for more exercise, continue your journey by picking up the Wirral Way in West Kirby. Follow the trail east to visit Wirral Country Park and Thurstaston Common.

Follow the route
We love pizza from Dough Bros at The Black Toad in Hoylake.
We love pizza from Dough Bros at The Black Toad in Hoylake.

Where to eat and drink nearby

Hoylake and West Kirby have plenty of fantastic places to eat and drink. We love The Black Toad in Hoylake for drinks and a relaxed atmosphere; the Ship Inn is lovely for pub food. We also love Forza Pizza Bar in West Kirby for the best pizza and pasta locally. 

Restaurants in Hoylake

Whether you’re looking to walk, birdwatch, or relax and take in the beauty of nature, Red Rocks is a beautiful place to explore. So, if you’re planning a trip to Wirral, add Red Rocks to your itinerary.

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