At only 54 miles from my home in Shropshire, this was the second closest walk to the coast that I would make. I had opted for a shortish day to fill in the gap between Wales and Scotland as I begin to head north. I could have chosen a number of starting points to begin walking around the Wirral. Because of its good cycle and rail links (as well as being cheap to park) I opted for Shotton. So for the next 3 miles I would be walking in Wales again, although you would hardly notice it.
Starting at Shotton High Level station (I walked towards Shotton Low level station) both stations have routes that run perpendicular to each other. I soon joined up with the official Wales Coast Path as it follows the banks of the River Dee. I crossed this part of the path last August on my first section of the WCP. The railway bridge at Hawarden allows cycle and pedestrian traffic to travel over the bridge. This is cycle route #5 and I was soon to leave it for cycle route #568, a newly constructed path. I did have some reservations about this section, but it could not have been easier with excellent signage. The route passed around the large Toyota factory as well as other large industrial premises. It passed underneath the busy A548. A small lane ran alongside the railway towards the Sealand MOD firing ranges. Red flags were flying although due to the early time of the morning no firing was taking place. The firing range did not intrude into the walk at all. The views across the Dee Estuary began to open up and I could clearly make out Flint castle as i passed over the border into Cheshire.
The cycle way joined a small road as I skirted the outskirts of Neston, once a large coal mining area, which I was not aware of. I passed the famous Harp Inn and was pleased to get away away from the cyclists who had been in out in force, in groups of all sizes all morning.
I stayed on the water front while passing through the small hamlet of Parkgate, a suburb of Neston. In actual fact it was very difficult to see any water at all, with salt marsh and sand /mud running alongside the shore. Eventually, I had to make a small detour inland to pick up the Wirral Way, a cycleway, walking route and bridleway following the line of the old Hooton to West Kirby rail link.
At Thurstaston, I found a path to enable me to get down to the beach and walk along it. I could have probably stayed on the beach, but opted to detour slightly inland again to pick up the Wirral Way. The view across the Dee Estuary was terrific as I could now make out the “Duke of Lancaster”, as well a Little and Great Orme in the far distance.
Within a mile of rejoining the Wirral way, I rejoined the beach and stayed on it until Hoylake. As I passed through West Kirby I could see a sailing regatta was being held on the large Marine Lake. I think the competitors were novices as many were struggling to keep their small dinghys on course. I walked along along the beach which was nice and firm and ran alongside the Royal Liverpool golf course, which sometimes holds the Open. The tide was way out and the tidal sand flats covered a huge area. I could see the small island of Hilbrae offshore and many people were heading for that.
At Hilbrae Point I rounded the SW tip of the Wirral. I continued to walk along the beach and could not see where the waters edge was, it was that far out. I continued to walk towards the RNLI station at Hoylake, where I turned down one of the streets towards the train station. I had in fact unknowingly walked an extra station to Manor Road, Hoylake instead of Hoylake itself! I managed to finish the 18 miles in 5.25 hrs with a glorious sunshine all the time with a refreshing seas breeze to keep me cool.
Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 1708.5 miles