I wanted to make good use of the extra Bank Holiday, but didn’t fancy travelling, so I caught the Merseyrail train to Hooton and the start of the Wirral Way (also known as The Wirral Country Park). This 12 mile walk follows the route of the old Hooton to West Kirby railway which was closed in the 60’s.
The Way starts by heading South along the side of the Hooton to Chester railway. In my childhood, this part of the line was not electrified so you’d have to change trains at Hooton if you were going to Chester. Of course, everywhere was a lot further away in those days.
After passing the urban decay at the side of the railway, I was soon walking along a tree-lined path which is so typical of the Wirral Way. The path must have been much improved in the last twenty years as I seem to recall having trouble riding my (road) bike over the ruts and tree-roots but now the path is completely smooth and well-used by cyclists; in the first half an hour I must’ve beeen overtaken or passed by over a dozen of them before I saw another walker.
The first point of interest was Hadlow Station which has been preserved as it was in the 1950’s and includes a Visitor Centre. Unfortunately they can’t have been expecting many visitors today as the buildings were clad with plastic sheeting and scaffolding. There was no information about what work was underway, but it did look like renovations rather than demolition.
It was a perfect day for walking, despite the threat of showers as I’d left the house, and even under the shade of the trees I was comfortable in shorts and T-shirt. This time I had remembered to apply the suncream, too. The birds were singing away and I caught sight of a couple of goldfinches but they were flitting too quickly to get a photo.
At Gayton the Way opened up and I could just make out the Welsh hills over the Dee.
At Thurstaston I resisted the temptation of an ice-cream but ate my banana and made use of the facilities. There are really good information displays here which explain all about the wildlife and the environment, but I pushed on….. and got lost.
I wandered off keeping the Dee on my left and found myself on this steep, winding set of steps. There was no way they could have got a train down here …. so I was obviously no longer on the Wirral Way. This must be the steps down to the beach, so rather than admit my mistake I decided to go to the beach!
After the flat easy walking of the previous 10 miles, the sand was a good work-out for my calf muscles (which, two days later, have almost recovered.)
I arrived at West Kirby at just after two o’clock having taken about 4 and a half hours to walk the 12 miles. Now it was time for an ice-cream as I looked out across the beach to the second part of today’s walk: Hilbre Island.