I’ll call this ride “Wirral Old and New”. As so often happens, the forecast does not match reality on the day. As Storm Gareth was expected to bring 45 mph winds to The Wirral, only four riders appeared on a sunny morning at Ness Gardens. Steve T came to check on our well-being, but only for coffee today.
Andy, Clive, and George were led north by me who promised them quiet, traffic free roads and cycle tracks, just to minimise any risk from the wind. After Little Neston, we rode north on The Wirral Way to Gayton, sheltered from the westerlies. On a recce a few weeks ago, I had discovered Wittering Lane and Pipers Lane in Lower Heswall that paralleled the Wirral Way taking us to the first of three climbs of the day, Oldfield Drive. Yes, there are some steep and rough gradients on the peninsula.
At the top, the Thurstaton cycle way took us to Irby and the first of the “Old” settlements, Thingwall, which takes its name from the Norse “ting vellir” or meeting place. It begs the question, was this a very important place in the 10thCentury, similar to other European Viking capitals like Tynwald, Thingvellir or Tingwall the old capital of Shetland.
North on Sustrans 56 through Woodchurch, then east over the M53 that took us to our 2ndclimb onto the sandstone ridge at Noctorum, followed by a fast descent into Birkenhead Park. Designed by Paxton in 1847, it is the world’s oldest public park and has the UK’s only covered wooden footbridge (a la Suisse) where the other three riders posed for a photo.
|Swiss Bridge - Birkenhead Park|
Despite the headwinds, we were only five minutes late for our lunch stop at the ever-popular Refreshment Rooms. As usual there, everyone had a good lunch. Suitably fed and watered, we headed with the wind along the beach at Rock Ferry.
|A monochrome study of Rock Ferry beach|
At Port Sunlight, the other three had never ascended the Alpe de River Park, the newest park on Merseyside. Opened in 2014, it sits atop the old council rubbish tip, emitting methane that is converted on site into electricity. At the summit we only admired the views for a while as the wind was fairly fierce and chilly.
Continuing south along the banks of the Mersey, we passed through Eastham Country Park before traversing the Wirral back to Ness Gardens. A very enjoyable 35 miles but with three steep hills, it dropped our average speed to a pleasant 11mph.
See route map and/or gpx file download
Photos by Macca