Wirral

Once a royal hunting ground, Wirral still hides a patchwork of medieval country lanes, historic villages and tranquil coastal walks. Rising from the heart of the peninsula, Royden Park, on the sandstone ridge of Thurstaston common, is the perfect vantage point to take it all in.

At its highest spot – the legendary Thor’s Stone – the panorama encompasses the mountains of North Wales, the Liverpool waterfront and, on a clear day, the Isle of Mann. The self-styled ‘leisure peninsula’ certainly is an outdoorsy place – from the breezy vantage point of Bidston Hill – with its working 18th century windmill, to the wide expanses of clean sand at West Kirby and Hoylake.

This 10-mile-by-7-finger of land is home to championship golf courses (Royal Liverpool, in Hoylake) winding country parks (Wirral Country Park follows the route of a long-defunct railway track), picture-perfect villages (the model village of Port Sunlight, Neston, Burton and Willaston especially) and historic seaports (the atmospheric Parkgate, stranded alongside the silted up River Dee).

Principle town, Birkenhead, is home to a couple of worthwhile attractions in the Historic Warships at Woodside Ferry Terminal and Birkenhead Priory (the oldest surviving building in Merseyside).

Wallasey’s Space Port is great fun for junior Brian Coxes, and Heswall and West Kirby’s cool bars and restaurants attract the peninsula’s increasingly hip young crowd. Further afield, the Roman walled city of Chester is well worth a day trip, and shoppers in search of a bargain will love the huge outlet village of Cheshire Oaks, just off the M53 at Ellesmere Port.

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