This was a cold Easter Monday afternoon walking somewhere Sarah had discovered on her bike a few weeks ago. Or rediscovered really as it’s somewhere we’d come and walk years ago, many years now. Long before it had a sign up and a map announcing itself, back when it was only leftover land where Liverpool Airport used to be. Before the airport moved along the coast a bit, started calling itself John Lennon and this became the Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve. Or the Garston Shore as we prefer to call it.
It is a glorious place. Not only a nature reserve but a place of leftover industry, pieces of abandoned dock and airport and one of the hardly any other places in Liverpool where you could, if you so wanted, walk into the River Mersey.
The last time I’d been here it was truly wild. An under the bridge edgeland that was just beyond Garston but was hardly what you’d call Speke either. No doubt full of wildlife even then, except I wasn’t there looking for it. I was just walking.
Now there are laid our paths you can walk on and the place is called a Reserve. But being along one of the widest parts of the river it’s still wild and as you’ll see contains the kinds of precious post-industrial raggedness only time can create. I think it’s one of my favourite parts of where Liverpool touches the river.
As gorgeous as any Cornish or Northumbrian estuary here.
Then turning the other way we walked across to an end bit of abandoned dock.
Upriver from the still working Garston Docks is this beauty. Used now for silence and the occasional film set, we were told. By a man we met, sat reading peacefully here with his dog by his side.
We’ve climbed up onto that abandoned quay now and are looking downriver towards the city and Birkenhead.
And looking down at our feet?
Someday, if we ever manage to sort out an economy that works for all of us, this might become somewhere people would want to live or even work again. Which would be good. But don’t miss it now, either, while it’s this beautiful.
Here’s where it is and what used to be here, from a 1905 OS map. I think we’ve been stood where the close-up map says ‘Travelling Crane.’
Then we went walking upriver.
I’d spent the morning writing about silence and this was the perfect walk for after that. Where the main sounds were the cold wind and the tide coming in.
In front of the sailing club here is where you can walk along its slipway and into the river. So I did, almost.
Upriver from the slipway are the lights of the new 1982 version of the airport, and on the opposite bank the Stanlow oil refinery at Ellesmere Port.
That’s me, close to the water’s edge now.
Here now. Standing with the incoming tide. Then back up the slipway for the rest of our walk.
Crossing a stretch of leftover runway from the 1933 version of Speke Airport, with the medieval woodland of Speke Hall just beyond it there. To a piece of the neoliberal economy that currently runs all along the inland edge of this wilderness.
Then back along a stretch of old airport to finish.
A perfect Easter Monday afternoon on the Garston Shore.