The Wirral Way follows a disused railway along the west side of the Wirral peninsular from Hooton to West Kirkby, forming the spine of the Wirral Country Park, the first designated UK country park and a popular amenity
From Hooton Rail station turn left on Hooton Road, cross the bridge over the railway and turn left on a path. This is the start of the Wirral Way.
For the first half mile the path is comparatively narrow against what comes after. Now put these directions away and walk, or tramp, or cycle to West Kirkby. (People on horseback can join the Wirral Way at Heath Lane ¾ mile from the start.)
At Parkgate it is well worth making a detour to view the Parade.
When you reach Station Road 4 ½ miles from the start (1 ½ hours into the walk) turn left following signs for the Parade.
This will put you on a promenade with stunning views across the River Dee.
Over the river lies another country – Wales!
Keep ahead passing the Parade – a line of attractive properties – shops, pubs and private houses – harking back to the age when Parkgate was a bustling port providing a ferry link with Ireland.
The silting of the Dee Estuary and the rise in prominence of Liverpool brought an end to that commerce.
Keep ahead on the promenade and when you reach the Boathouse follow the road to the right to intercept the Wirral Way in a little under 500yds. (Alternatively walkers (but not anything on wheels) can keep ahead on a shoreline path passing Heswall Golf Club to the right until Cottage Lane is reached. Here turn right to intercept the main route.
At Thurstaston Common you may wish to stop by at the Wirral Country Park Visitors Centre which is the base of the ranger and information services for the park with facilities. The centre is on a rise to the left of the main track with the centre’s large car park to the right.
As you near West Kirkby pass through another car park access point at Caldy and then reach Ashton Park.
Soon after the track arrives at the A540 Grange Road. Turn left for the station.
However, before booking your ticket home take time to view the promenade. (Turn left onto Dee Road and go past Morrison’s). Here offshore at a distance of ¾ of a mile lie the Hilbre Islands.
Today an important site of scientific interest in the past these had been settled in prehistoric times.
At low tide it is possible to walk out to them. Nearer at hand is the Marine Lake one of the largest in the country. It is possible to walk right round this on the sea wall.
Useful website: www.visitwirral.com
Points of interest: Hadlow Road Railway Station, Willaston. These are the only station buildings left on the old line and have been preserved much as they would have been when the line was shut in 1964. It is quite remarkable that given the open access of this amenity that it has not suffered vandalism over the years.
Parkgate: The name originates from being the entrance to Neston Park – once a deer hunting park.
Where to eat and drink: All the towns and villages on the route have pubs/restaurants/cafés. There is also a tea room to the right of the car park at the visitors centre Thurstaston.