It’s been a while, but Liverpool is most definitely returning to the river. For a city with such an iconic waterfront, we’ve not been kind to it of late. Ugly hotels and car parks stand, hugger-mugger, with ill advised apartment developments and derelict dock buidlings.
But, fortunately, there is still a sense of proportion and grandeur here – not least in the recent extension to the Leeds/Liverpool canal, which now scythes right through the Pier Head: for narrow-boaters, the approach to the Liver Buildings must now rank as one of the must-do navigations. The canal snakes its way past the jagged black alps of the Mann Island development, past the svelte slopes of the new Museum of Liverpool and on to the basin of the Albert Dock.
The Dock’s museums and galleries, bars and restaurants can easily fill a half day’s exploration and, should you itch to get closer to the water you’ve a few options: you can take a ‘ferry ‘cross the Mersey’ or try your hand at canoeing (or a range of other watersports) at the Watersports Centre, at the Liverpool Marina. Still unsure whether you’ve got your sealegs? There are lots of tours – by land and water – leaving from the Waterfront area plus a ruddy great wheel that afford views across the Liverpool waterfront, Wirral and even Snowdonia and Blackpool on a clear day.
The new Echo Arena and convention centre have seen a host of new restaurants and hotels spring around the waterfront, meaning the riverside area is even more of a tourist trap.
Further south, the promenade walk of Riverside Drive offers great river views all the way to the recently re-opened Festival Gardens site, one of the nicest places to spend a summer afternoon out of the city.