The brightly painted Mersey Ferry with Liverpool city in the distance
Cheshire Challenge, Walk

Cheshire Challenge walk 21 – Wirral Circular Trail

Blimey that was pretty epic!  This walk was a 12-hour challenge with Sarah Williams: how far could we walk in 12 hours?  Walks 19 and 20 were training walks and I’d set myself a goal of 40km, or even better 42.2km to make a marathon distance.  Well we smashed that!  53km.  Fifty-three.  Fifty blumin’ three!   Very, VERY chuffed with that!

I chose the Wirral Circular Trail at 59km as ‘too long to do in one go’ so we’d not run out of path and the navigation should be fairly easy and not require lots of map checking.  We set off from Hoylake at just after 6am, walking down to the beach and along the shoreline to West Kirby.  The skies were grey with the threat of rain and the tide almost fully out beyond the Hilbre Island.  With just a few dog walkers and one lone early morning litter-picker we had the place to ourselves.  At West Kirby we picked up the Wirral Way, a 19km path along a disused railway line that runs all the way to Hooton with frequent views over the Dee estuary to North Wales, this got us off to a good start: our pace was quick but steady and the kilometres quickly clocked by.   The North Cheshire Way and Arrowe Park to Parkgate Circular follows a section of the Wirral Way, which in itself is a Cheshire Challenge path so this was the third of four times I will walk all or part of the Wirral Way.  It’s a good job it’s a nice route!

If I don’t plan properly, I am quite bad at keeping myself fuelled properly on long days out, so this time Sarah set an alarm to go off every hour to remind us to have a snack, apart from flattening her phone battery this worked really well and it was only at the end of the walk I began to feel really tired.  This is a habit I need to build for Svalbard as eating regularly will be the key to getting the high calories I need for the exertion and cold exposure.

Once at Hooton we took advantage of the train station toilets for a tactical wee, with covid restrictions still in place our options could be limited.  Planning ahead for these things is often the difference between a pleasant walk and a miserable one…  I also needed to tape my feet, my old faithful Keen shoes were finally giving up and I could feel a couple of hotspots developing.  Its always sensible to stop and deal with hotspots as soon as they start as a small bit of tape can be all that’s needed to stop a blister forming, which was the case for me.  The next section is through the residential areas of Eastham, winding round housing estates after walking through the graffiti covered motorway underpass.   The Wirral Circular Trail is reasonably well waymarked but a few rogue signs pointing the wrong way require attention to be paid to the map until the route reaches the promenades along the Mersey.

We stopped for a more substantial snack under a beech tree in Eastham Country Park, with the rain now thoroughly set in we needed to keep moving so as not to get too cold and require faffing with layers so we ate what we could and set off again quickly.  At Eastham Ferry we got our first sight of Liverpool as the route headed north and to the industrial side of Wirral.  The section to Seacombe flits between riverside parks, housing estates, docks and more than a handful of grey industrial units.  Its not pretty and in some places it’s pretty grim, but there’s enough to be interesting. 

At Seacombe the route joins the promenades.  Lots of investment here has created wide, smooth surfaced walkways and cycle paths with views back to Liverpool, the docks on the far side of the Mersey and across to Crosby.  The downside was the hard surface was tough on tired feed and by New Brighton our pace had finally slowed.  As we left New Brighton large foreboding patches of rain could be seen far in the distance along the Welsh coast.  As we walked, the wind turbines disappeared row by row as the rain approached, thunder and then hail.  Well, it wouldn’t be a proper walk if we didn’t get soaked just before the end, would it?

Video of the walk HERE

The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE

Cheshire Challenge distance53km
Paths walkedWirral Circular Trail
Total distance53km
Total ascent495m
OS mapOS 266
Date walkedMay 2021
Time taken12 hours
CakeSarah’s amazing Chocolate cake!
Dance poseAfter 53km, not a chance!
Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed:369km (1500km in total)
The stats