Liverpool might fancy itself as a fully fledged metropolis, but the fact of the matter is that it’s really only three-quarters a city. The fourth? A river runs through it.
So, while the mighty Mersey might form the sort of barrier even Tescos can’t build on (yet), it’s also given the city more than its fair share of invigorating coastal walks that take in grand civic architecture, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, beaches scattered with jaw-dropping public art, and sandy trails leading to tidal islands.
Need to burn off all those party-season calories? Liverpool is one of the most walkable cities in the UK, even in winter!
1) The Maritime Mercantile City to Otterspool (4 miles/1.5hrs)
UNESCO (rightly) awarded Liverpool’s clutch of pier head buildings (known as the ‘Three Graces’ which include the iconic Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the riotous Port of Liverpool building) World Heritage Status, but this is no open-air museum locked in aspic. The new Pier Head offers breezy walks alongside a handsome new extension of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, scything its way into the Albert Dock via a waterfront cityscape animated with coffee shops and museums including The Museum of Liverpool and the Beatles Story. Both just a few minutes’ from Travelodge Liverpool Central, on The Strand. You can walk the four miles or so to Otterspool from here and, if your lefs still have any go left in them, you could even tackle the army assault-course activity centre. If you’re ready for a well deserved break grab a cuppa in the Active Adventures café and hop a taxi back to town or wander through the beautiful Festival Gardens, with their Chinese Zen garden, and elevated views over the Mersey.
2) Formby to Crosby (5.5miles/2hrs)
The pine woods at Formby Point are one of the last refuges of the diminutive red squirrel. Head to the enclosure along Victoria Road for an amble through the dunes (get the train to Freshfield Station) and breathtaking sea views. Head out onto the sands and, at low tide, you’ll find fossilised footprints dating back 6,000 years. Head south to Crosby (or, if time’s tight, start your walk at Waterloo) and a newly laid footpath leads to Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ – 100 cast iron figures looking forlornly out to sea, only to be submerged at high tide. Time it right and you might be lucky to enjoy one of the blazing sunsets the Sefton Coast is famous for. Sefton Council produces a great guide to their coastal walks – get it here. This is a terrific spot for cycling, too!
3) West Kirby – Hilbre Island (6.5miles return/allow three hours)
Over on the Wirral Peninsula you’re not short of enticing walking options – head to Wirral Council’s tourist site for a list of the best. One of the most thrilling is the hook-shaped walk across West Kirby sands to the string of tiny islets shimmering, like a mirage, at the mouth of the Dee. The islands are cut off from the mainland by the tide for up to five hours, so it’s essential you time your walk right – and allow sufficient time to complete your visit and return journey to West Kirby safely. The safest walk heads from West Kirby marina to ‘Little Eye’ and skirts around to the Wales side of the islands. Here, smashing little beaches are home to colonies of Grey and Harbour seals, as well as rare plant life. For an hour or so, you really do feel like you’re in another world. Check tide times and rights of way here and remember, there are no facilities on Hilbre, so take a flask!