The Wirral – A guide for Liverpool people

Wirral18I’ve long stopped being amazed by the number of Liverpool people who don’t go to the Wirral Peninsula. A good number of my fellow citizens are reasonably intrigued by the Friday Walks I go on every week. But when they find that many of them take place ‘on the Wirral’ it immediately prompts questions like ‘How do you know where to walk?’ and ‘Is it good over there?’ Many a Liverpool person has a better working knowledge of Barcelona or Ibiza than of the treasures so close to home on the opposite bank of the Mersey.

And that’s just not right. So here’s a quick guide to some of what you might be missing.

Beginning with how to get there. Now obviously you could get on a ferry or a train. But recognising that you might be a bit nervous if it’s your first time ‘over there’ and want to feel like you could make a quick getaway, I’ll show you how to get there in a car. These pictures are from Friday last week when, for the first time in ages, Sarah was able to come with me on a Friday Walk, and so take the pictures while I drove.

First you’ll need to find a tunnel. There is one close to the middle of town, but we mostly use the ‘new’ tunnel on Scotland Road.

Get yourself in the right lane.

Get yourself in the right lane.

It says ‘Walsy Tunnel’ – this stands for ‘Wallasey.’ It’s a place on the Wirral.

So you won't end up

Wouldn’t want to end up in Preston or Manchester by mistake!

You’ll drive round in a descending circle until eventually you’ll reach the tunnel itself.

Which now starts calling itself the 'Kingsway Tunnel'. Don't worry though, you're still on the right road!

Which now starts calling itself the ‘Kingsway Tunnel’. Don’t worry though, you’re still on the right road!

You will now drive under the river for a couple of miles.

And before long you'll be approaching a light at the end of the tunnel. Nearly at the Wirral!

And before long you’ll be approaching a light at the end of the tunnel. Nearly at the Wirral!

Emerging, you'll be reassessed to find that they drive on the same side of the road as we do!

Emerging, you’ll be reassured to find that they drive on the same side of the road as we do!

Next comes a bit of a shock I’d better warn you about.

You have to pay.

You have to pay.

Now, when I was a little boy, and we’d be paying to go through the ‘old’ tunnel, my Dad promised me this wouldn’t be happening much longer as we’d nearly paid for it. Well, something must have gone badly wrong because you still have to pay in both of them.

£1.60, and we'll have to pay again on the way home!

£1.60, and we’ll have to pay again on the way home!

But here we are. In only seven photographs we’ve managed to get from Liverpool to the Wirral. Well done us!

Now, using this tunnel, as long as you keep towards the right once you come through the pay barrier, you go straight on to a motorway, the M53. This goes right along the middle of the Wirral Peninsula and, here’s the big secret to ‘finding your way on the Wirral,’ every turn off leads to interesting places and possible walks.

Many of our favourite walks take place on the far side of the Wirral, so, turning right when we come off the motorway.

And you'll soon find yourself driving through the likes of picture perfect Thornton Hough.

And soon driving through the likes of picture perfect Thornton Hough.

To arrive at the various bits of the coast you’ll be able to find when you get your map (don’t worry, I’ll be showing you a picture of a map in a bit).

Friday just gone we were aiming for the Marshlands between Neston and Ness.

Friday just gone we were aiming for the Marshlands between Neston and Ness.

Sarah looking out over the marsh, where the River Dee used to flow, before it silted up, as well as having its course changed so that this high upstream it flows over on the Welsh side of the estuary.

Sarah looking out over the marsh, where the River Dee used to flow, before it silted up, as well as having its course changed so that this high upstream it flows over on the Welsh side of the estuary.

In fact where Sarah's sitting used to be a quay, Denhall Quay, where boats would load up to export coal from a nearby mine.

In fact where Sarah’s sitting used to be a quay, Denhall Quay, where boats would load up to export coal from a nearby mine.

Long ago and the quay is breaking up now. But not that long ago, the Wirral is full of interesting history, if you're interested.

Long ago and the quay is breaking up now. But not that long ago, the Wirral is full of interesting history, if you’re interested.

And here’s that map I promised you.

The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map266, covering the whole of the Wirral

The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map266, covering the whole of the Wirral.

Once you’ve got this you’ll be able to find all these places and many more.

Thurstaston Common.

Thurstaston Common.

And nearby, the Shining Shore at Thurstaston.

And nearby, the Shining Shore at Thurstaston.

Peace and splendour, with no need of Easyjet or Ryanair to get there.

Peace and splendour, with no need of Easyjet or Ryanair to get there.

Or, out in the mouth of the Dee?

Hilbre Island.

Hilbre Island.

As the name suggests, this gets cut off from land every time the tide comes in (twice a day, who knew). So you’ll need to consult something called a Tide Table, at this link, before you go, and follow these instructions from the Friends of Hilbre to keep you safe.

And you’ll find it easy to take photographs on the Wirral that make it look like one of the most beautiful places on earth. Because it is.

Peaceful.

It’s peaceful.

And picturesque.

And picturesque.

And one side of it faces Liverpool!

More opportunities...

More opportunities…

For beautiful photographs.

For beautiful photographs.

And the Wirral’s not just for summertime, it’s beautiful all the time.

Snowdrops at Ness Gardens.

Snowdrops at Ness Gardens.

But whenever you go, as your day out nears its end, you’ll probably want chips, ice-cream or both.

Luckily, Parkgate has the best ice-cream shop in the world.

Luckily, Parkgate has the best ice-cream shop in the world.

Nicholl's.

Nicholl’s.

Fab chippy just along the road too.

But all too soon the day will end.

But all too soon the day will end.

And after you’ve coped with the outrage of having to pay to get back through the tunnel, yes, pay to get into Liverpool, you’ll be glad you’ve finally discovered the Wirral. Your life will be better, your sense of ‘home’ will be bigger. Welcome home.

Liverpool + Wirral = Heaven on Earth. You know that’s true.

See also ‘Wirral and Liverpool – We two are one?’

And for more, much more, on what you might have been missing, we wrote down every one of our Friday Walks for a year in 2012, and roughly two thirds of them were on the Wirral.

18 thoughts on “The Wirral – A guide for Liverpool people

  1. stan cotter

    Done all of them Ron plus a few as well, I’ve gone out for a break in the car to Raby village and always found myself in the Wheatsheaf somehow. But have also done a lot of it on my bike in younger days, gone by now, I camped on top of the cliffs at Thurstaston and been chased by the old guy who lived in the cottage on the shore them days, when we were looking for some water (he he he). I believe it used to be a coastguard station/keepers cottage. Across the Mersey from the Admiral.

    Oh dear im giving the names of pubs out now. Some here think I’m alcoholic. But I remember a lot of places by the pub names and association.

    Keep at it you two, you do the world a service, thank you

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thank you Stan, especially for ‘You do the world a service’ – we genuinely think these two places are together enough to be a city, a ‘city region’ or well, you know what we mean.

      Reply
  2. Val

    Moved to the Wirral in 1990 and found a book of Wirral walks and pubs in the newsagents in Upton. Been doing Wirral walks ever since, although crossed to the other side to live in 1995. Val

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hello Val, lovely to hear from you. Truth is, Liverpool & Wirral are best viewed, to my mind, as one city.

      When our cities were reorganised in the early 1970s, two of them kept their names – Greater London & Greater Manchester. Others were diminished by the names of their rivers. Teesside, Tyneside, Merseyside, Avon. All cities, really. A city region needs urban & space to breathe.

      Reply
  3. stan cotter

    I still think of my address as ‘Dingle Liverpool 8, Lancashire. I was born in Lancashire, I live in Lancashire, my friend was born in Lancashire and now its called Cheshire, that’s Widnes!

    They can change what they like but they will never change us or our heritage.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Yes, it does tend to be chips or ice cream. Sarah once polished off her fish and chips, and then headed straight into Nicholls. But, tellingly, she’s never repeated the mistake.

      As for the article, obviously I’m magnanimously considering a guide to Liverpool for Wirral people. What do you think?

      Reply
  4. Stephen Roberts

    Very good idea to advertise Wirral to Liverpudlians. I don’t think you would need to do the opposite procedure: most Wirral people are very familiar with Liverpool, even if only the central business district, where many of them work, shop and get their entertainment. I believe 40% of Wirral’s population commutes to Liverpool and back every day.

    I am interested in your comments about Wirral and Liverpool being one city and in Stan’s rejoinder. I am a passionate believer in the old counties. I hated the Local Government Reform Act of 1974 which changed boundaries and created new counties, most of which have subsequently been adjusted at least twice more and several of which have been abolished. I am a Wirral man born and bred and am therefore from Cheshire, not Merseyside. I could cry when I see the sign near Heswall which says “Welcome to Wirral”, when, by that point, you have actually been travelling along its coastline for about ten miles. I feel similarly upset when I travel through Warrington, which lies north of the River Mersey (the ancient boundary between Cheshire and Lancashire) and the signs claim that it’s in Cheshire. There is no snobbery in this – I love Liverpool as much as I love Wirral (and I am even learning to love Warrington), but for me Liverpool is in Lancashire and Wirral is in Cheshire. That’s the way it was for the best part of a thousand years. It was arrogant and hurtful of Heath’s government to destroy that piece of British heritage.

    I think I am largely an unsentimental and practical sort of person, but I also feel that there is a place for the traditions and heritage which give people a sense of identity. The ancient counties are an example of that.

    Reply
      1. stan cotter

        Can’t produce percentages as I have no idea. But from 1958 to 1982 I worked in the city centre and in our office alone I’d guess that near 40% were from the Wirral including our supervisors, assistant manager, manager and our traffic dept as well.

  5. pavotpoppy

    Tip! Go to the ice cream shop next door to Nicholls, it’s cheaper, just as tasty (thoug hwith fewer flavours) and the line isn’t twenty minutes long! Also Mr Chows is the best chinese food on the Wirral!!!

    Reply

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