Skip to main content

 
 

     I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in Liverpool for the walking, it was just a weekend break in the northeast to steal a breath of the Mersey in the autumn. However, I did bring my walking boots and after a heavy night at the Cavern Club I felt the need to get out into the fresh air and make the most of some unseasonably good weather. Across the Mersey lay the curiously shaped peninsula of the Wirral, a sort of buffer between Liverpool and North Wales that offers a little more serenity. Here can be found the 12 mile Wirral Way that runs just south of Hoylake down to Hooton. I started from the promenade at West Kirby alongside Marine Lake, one of the largest of its kind in Europe, with the Dee Estuary emptying into Liverpool Bay.

     

     The Hooton to Parkgate branch line opened on the 1st October 1866 and this walk uses the old trackbed of the Parkgate to West Kirby section. That section began life in 1886 connecting farms and communities along the western coast of the Wirral peninsula to the main Birkenhead line. It was once possible to complete a circular train ride of the Wirral, but the expected passenger traffic never quite lived up to expectations and the service stopped on 15th September 1956. One final passenger run did occur after this date when the Queen visited Wallasey on the 11th July 1957. The freight only service continued until 7th May 1962 and after that much of the land remained derelict until plans to convert the old line into a country park was put before the Countryside Commission. By the time work commenced in 1969 the Wirral became the first designated country park in Britain. When the park and line opened officially on 2nd October 1973 the Wirral Way became one of the first disused railway lines to be converted for recreational use following the Beeching era. The section I walked to Davenport Road was managed by the Wirral Council.

     

     At the site of Thurstaston Station the way passed beneath Max Kirby Bridge, named after a former president of the Wirral Footpaths Society. This section of the Wirral Way was opened by the Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society on 17th October 2015. Just off the station platforms can be found the Thurstaston Centre with toilets, information centre and tea room. Alas the late start and dwindling late autumn daylight hours determined that my venture along the Wirral Way reached the point where the line disappeared at Davenport Road in Gayton. At a sign put up by the path's sponsors in a time before the post-Brexit apocalypse, I decided to turn back.

 

     The return walk in the dwindling afternoon had its own rewards as I was treated to a panoramic feast across the mudflats of the 31,500 acre Dee Estuary, an important wildfowl haven to a variety of migrating birds. By this time the earlier rain and cloud cover had broken and I looked to the far shores of North Wales 5 miles away with the sun breaking to enjoy the sort of atmospheric visuals only the most advanced photoshopping could do justice. My halfway trundle down the Wirral Way didn’t leave me feeling incomplete but more enthused to return another day and complete its full length. This can be achieved easily from Liverpool by jumping on the ferry 'across the Mersey,' catching a train from Birkenhead to West Kirby then, after completing the easy 12 mile walk, catching a return train from Hooton back to Birkenhead for the return ferry ride. Bosh – easy! My visit to Liverpool alone was enjoyable enough to make me want to return sooner rather than later. When doing so I shall certainly factor in a day to complete the Wirral Way and find out what more this fascinating walk has to offer.


 

The Hooton to Parkgate branch line opened on the 1st October 1866 and this walk uses the old trackbed of the Parkgate to West Kirby section. That section began life in 1886 connecting farms and communities along the western coast of the Wirral peninsula to the main Birkenhead line. It was once possible to complete a circular train ride of the Wirral, but the expected passenger traffic never quite lived up to expectations and the service stopped on 15th September 1956. One final passenger run did occur after this date when the Queen visited Wallasey on the 11th July 1957. The freight only service continued until 7th May 1962 and after that much of the land remained derelict until plans to convert the old line into a country park was put before the Countryside Commission. By the time work commenced in 1969 the Wirral became the first designated country park in Britain, when the park and line opened officially on 2nd October 1973 the Wirral Way became one of the first disused railway lines to be converted for recreational use following the Beeching era. The section I walked to Davenport Road was managed by the Wirral Council. 

Reader Comments (0)

There are currently no comments on this article. Why not be the first and leave your thoughts below.

Leave Your Comment

Please keep your comment on topic, any inappropriate comments may be removed.

Return to index