Merseyside Travelwise: 0151 330 1253
This route takes you along the Wirral Way to charming Parkgate, one of the area's 'lost' ferry ports for Ireland, and back along quiet country lanes. For over 70 years, from the height of the Victorian era onwards, a busy railway linked Hooton, on the main Chester-to-Birkenhead line, to West Kirby, 12 miles away at Wirral's north westerly corner. For 7 of those miles the line ran close to the Dee Estuary, diverted there, away from his estate, by a rich landowner.
By 1962 the line was closed. But in 1973, backed by money from the Countryside Commission, and after a great deal of work, the old railway line was opened as Wirral Country Park, through which runs the Wirral Way. It was the first designated Country Park in Britain.
The old station at Hadlow Road has been restored to how it would have looked back in 1952 before the rail services were withdrawn.
The saltmarshes and reedbeds at Parkgate are superb places to look for unusual water birds. The nearby reserve at Denhall has rare visitors such as little egrets and marsh harriers as well as osprey passing through, so you never know your luck. Sunsets over the Dee Estuary and the distant Welsh mountains can be inspiring. There are ice-cream parlours, cafés and pubs along the promenade (and don't miss the potted shrimps!).
Leave the Eastham Rake station car park.
Turn right under the railway and the motorway.
Turn left at the T junction.
Turn right at the second T junction.
Take the first road on the left, at a slightly staggered crossroads.
Just before the road rises to cross the old railway, turn right to access the Wirral Way, signposted for route 56.
Turn right on the dismantled railway.
Pass Hadlow Road station and cross Hadlow Road.
Pass underneath Damhead Lane.
Pass underneath the A540.
Cross Cuckoo Lane.
Pass under Lees Lane.
At the end of the path, cross Mellock Lane and head up Station Road opposite.
Pass under the railway.
Turn left at the end.
Rejoin the old railway on the right.
Cross Buggen Lane.
The path eventually joins a short road. Turn left on Station Road.
At the seafront turn right.
Turn right at the Square along School Lane.
At the end of the road turn right on to the old railway again.
At Station Road turn left.
Turn right on to Neston High Street.
Take the first left under the railway.
After crossing the A540, take the first left, a narrow lane.
At the end of the track turn right on to Upper Road.
Take the first right in Raby, Willowbrow Road.
Turn left after the village on to Willow Lane.
Turn right at the T junction.
Turn left shortly afterwards.
Bear right to avoid crossing the motorway.
Turn left where you joined this lane near the beginning of the route.
Turn left into the station.