Around Thurstaston

Panoramic views from a heathland crest, and the edge of a grand estuary.




5.75 miles (9.2kms)

459ft (140m)

About the walk

This is a walk of two distinct halves. It is somewhat unfortunate that the busy A540 underlines this division, but not that there is so much variety in a small space. You start near to the shoreline but, saving its exploration for the end, first climb away along Station Road. This is an uninspiring opening but easy and quick so don't let it put you off. The grand Church of St Bartholomew signals the end of the beginning and once the main road is crossed you are on Thurstaston Common.

Thurstaston Common

Many people expect 'common' to be open but the name really refers to common grazing. Where this right is no longer exercised, unless the land is managed in some way, it's quite normal for it to revert to woodland. In fact most of the common is wooded but there are still good open stretches where heathland survives. It's obviously difficult for trees to gain a foothold in the thin sandy soils of the more exposed parts.

Most of the ground is dry but there are a few damper hollows. One such hollow is skirted early on. In summer it's marked by the white tassels of cotton grass. The wet patches are also home to cross-leaved heath, no the ling and bell heather of the drier areas. Its flowers grow in clusters rather than spikes. Also found are sundews, low-growing plants with reddish, hairy, sticky leaves. These trap insects from which the plant gains nutrients lacking in the poor soils.

Just below the summit you break out onto a bare sandstone crest which gives a view over the Dee Estuary and out to sea. On a clear day the Great Orme behind Llandudno stands out boldly, as does an offshore wind farm out in the Irish Sea. From the summit itself the view spreads to include the Liverpool cathedrals. The Forest of Bowland and Winter Hill rise to their left, and you can also identify Formby Point.

After retracing your steps as far as the church, the second half of this walk begins innocuously across farmland, but as you descend towards the sea, there's an unexpected moment of drama as you arrive at the ravine of The Dungeon, complete with tiny waterfall.

Below this you join the old railway which is now the Wirral Way. Past ponds, home to water-lilies and moorhens, you soon reach the brink of the slope about 50ft (15m) above the estuary. It's stretching it a bit to call it a cliff, but it's steep enough to be no place to slip. There's little solid rock exposed in these 'cliffs', which are composed of boulder clay. This is nearly the end of the walk, but you may want to linger and savour the view across the wide estuary to Wales.

Walk directions

First, look around the wildlife exhibition at the visitor centre, then walk out to Station Road. Follow it right for 0.5 miles (800m), bending right at the top to a junction near a church.

Go left to a roundabout, then left again along the A540 past the Cottage Loaf pub. Leave shortly after passing through a gate on the right onto Thurstaston Common. Keep right at a fork, passing behind a school to the end of a cul-de-sac.

Cross to the kissing gate almost opposite. Soon meeting a track, turn back along it. As it then bends right bear left past a gate. Join the left fence at the edge of more open heath. Keep ahead beyond its end to pick up another fence on the right. Emerging onto a track, go left beside Greasby Brook. Reaching another entrance to the nature reserve, keep left to remain within its fringe.

Arriving at a junction before a stone wall go left. Keep ahead through trees beyond its corner, soon picking up another wall. At its end, turn left past an information board and walk on at the edge of scrub heath.

Entering trees at the far side, watch for a path off right. Cross a wooded belt and then open heath to a junction by a marker stone. Keep ahead through more trees to a crossing path and turn left. Rising along the western escarpment, the trees soon thin to reveal the view. A topograph and trig point mark the summit. Just beyond, fork left, descending across open heath back to the cul-de-sac. Walking right, retrace your steps to the junction by the church on Station Road.

Go left past St Bartholomew's Church, keeping ahead at a bend on a broad track. At the end, through the left gate, continue along a hedged track, eventually descending to cross a stream. Turn right beside it to Dungeon Wood. Re-cross lower down above a small waterfall to walk above a deep gorge. The path soon drops back to re-cross the water.

Carry on, eventually rising onto an old railway embankment. Follow it right. Beyond a bridge, at a gate, move left to continue on the parallel bridle track. After 100yds (91m), turn through a gate on the left. Walk away by the left hedge, winding between pools then across open grass to the 'cliffs'. Go right for 250yds (229m) before swinging right back to the visitor centre.

Additional information

Some road walking, sandy tracks and bare rock, then field paths, 1 stile

Woodland and heath, farmland, seashore

Dogs have several opportunities to roam

OS Explorer 266 Wirral & Chester

Wirral Country Park at bottom of Station Road, Thurstaston

In Country Park Visitor Centre adjacent to car park

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About the area

Discover Cheshire

Nestled between the Welsh hills and Derbyshire Peaks, the Cheshire plains make an ideal location to take things slow and mess around in boats. Cheshire has more than 200 miles (302 km) of man-made waterways, more than any other county in England. The Cheshire Ring is formed from the Rochdale, Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Trent and Mersey and Bridgewater canals. This route takes you through a lot of Cheshire, and bits of other counties as well.

While exploring the county’s waterways, covering ground on foot or admiring the typical white plaster and black timber-frame houses, make sure to have a taste of Cheshire’s most famous produce. Although Cheddar has become Britain’s most popular cheese (accounting for over half of the cheese sales in the UK), it was once Cheshire cheese that was in every workman’s pocket back in the 18th century. Its moist, crumbly texture and slightly salty taste mean it goes well with fruit, peppers or tomatoes. As well as the usual white, there are also red and blue veined varieties.