Seacombe Ferry – Hoylake.
Despite its proximity I’ve not visited the Wirral Peninsular very often, I remember once going to Ness Botanic Gardens to buy some rhododendrons and magnolia. They are still thriving in my garden. But there are two walks which combined seem to highlight the best of this peninsular – the North Wirral Coastal Path and the Wirral Way. Due to the weather and Lake District flooding I thought now was a good time to explore.
Could have subtitled this as ‘Ferry across the Mersey’ but opted for a more practical train journey under the river. I wish I had taken the ferry as it would have made a superb start to the day. Too late now as I watch from this side the ‘Dazzle’ ferry heading across with the famous Liverpool sky line behind. The Three Graces are being overshadowed by elegant modern buildings. The day is overcast.The Wallasey promenade stretches before me and opposite are the remnants of the once mighty Liverpool and Bootle dockyards. Few cranes remain now but on this side of the river are poignant reminders of their wartime duties. Plaques have been put on the sea wall to honour the many boats lost in both wars, each plaque placed opposite the dock where the sinking took place.
The whole waterfront along here is full of history – Guinea Gap, the ‘back to front’ Wallasey Town Hall, the Egremont Ferry, Magazines Drive, Vale Park and The Tower Grounds. Look them up at – http://www.visitwirral.com/dbimgs/3WCT%20-%20North%20Wirral%20Coast%281%29.pdf
As New Brighton approached there were avenues of houses from more opulent times. New Brighton had its hay days either side of WW2. Ferries from Liverpool stopped sailing in 1971 and the famous Open Air Bathing Pool closed in 1990. There has been an attempt to regenerate the area but mainly by building new retail outlets, Brand New Brighton. The past is remembered at Fort Perch Rock and Rock Lighthouse.
Leaving the mouth of the river and turning along the north coast brought a change of character. Inland suburbia was replaced by sand dunes and a bracing sea breeze. Sand had been blown and deposited everywhere. The tide was retreating and flocks of birds were feeding at its edge – oyster catchers, redshanks, knots, turnstones and others – I had forgotten my binoculars. I was able to walk along the beach on firm sand, a change of surface. Crunchy empty Razor Clams were everywhere. Out to sea were lines of wind turbines.Clambering back up to the sea wall there is a golf links course in the dunes, a ruined ‘Mockbeggar Wharf’ and another redundant lighthouse passed, the Welsh Hills were glanced in the late afternoon sunshine. Small fishing boats waited on the beach.Housing reappeared and Hoylake was reached. Next to the modern lifeboat house a couple of intrepid sailors were fighting the wind across the pond. An information plaque relates some of the tragedies at sea. Nearby an ornate cast iron drinking fountain erected in 1901 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Xmas parties were in full swing at my hotel for the night, but needless to say I experienced friendly Merseyside hospitality. Thank you Green Lodge Hotel.