Wirral cycle route - Thurstaston and Hoylake

Wind turbines off Hoylake. Photo by Simon Harrod (CC BY 2.0)

Wind turbines off Hoylake. Photo by Simon Harrod (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: notArchant

What better recreation on a bracing spring day than a cycle ride along the coast? This month, Howard Bradbury’s ‘walk’ is a pedal around Wirral

Red Rocks at Hoylake. Photo by Andrew Hurley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Red Rocks at Hoylake. Photo by Andrew Hurley (CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: not Archant

I do like to be beside the seaside. I particularly like cycling along the prom, tiddly-om-pom-pom, gazing out at the vast panorama of Hoylake’s sands and endless skies.

Some hate the massive crop of wind turbines which now prick the far distance. Me, I rather like the sight of those big dumb sentries, standing guard on the hazy horizon.

Two centuries ago, these waters would have been busy with men in boats. Hoylake’s fortune then was as a trans-shipment point, where the big ships unloaded goods to smaller boats for the last leg of the journey to Liverpool.

Then, the blustery weather was the enemy, witness the fateful night of December 22 1810 when the Hoylake lifeboat went to the aid of a vessel in storm-tossed seas, and was overwhelmed by a huge wave, claiming eight of the ten crew. Today, the wind is Hoylake’s friend, or, at least, a useful acquaintance.

The drinking fountain erected on Hoylake's promenade to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 189

The drinking fountain erected on Hoylake's promenade to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. - Credit: Archant

We pass a memorial to those lifeboatmen, outside Hoylake’s impressive lifeboat station, on this cycle ride. There’s another reason to stop at this point: the Grace Darling, a pirate ship erected on the rocks three years ago as part of the Wirral Festival of Firsts, using fallen trees from Arrowe Park.

The ride is 15 miles long, and with Wirral’s pancake-like topography, it’s easy-going. That said, there are a couple of mild inclines in the second half of the route, so if you want a totally flat ride, and prefer sea views on the way out and back, simply follow the route to the end of Meols Prom, turn round and retrace your tyre-tracks.

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The visitwirral.com website is an excellent source of walks and cycle rides, and my ride follows their North West Cycle Route.

The Saughall pub, Saughall Massie

The Saughall pub, Saughall Massie - Credit: Archant

1. We start at the car park for the Wirral Country Park off Station Road, Thurstaston (CH61 0HN). The Wirral Way runs beside the car park, and you head north, following signs for West Kirby. At this point, it can be a little busy, so cyclists should be considerate of walkers. After passing Caldy Golf Course, you cross a road, Croft Drive, and carry straight on, continuing on the Wirral Way, with sea views towards Hilbre Island and the North Wales coast opening up to the left.

2. After passing Ashton Park, you reach West Kirby and the trail ends at a road junction. Carry on in the same direction, crossing over Grange Road, then follow the cycle path right and then immediately left into Orrysdale Road, passing the Concourse Leisure Centre on your left. At the next traffic lights, go straight across, continuing on Orrysdale Road, which becomes Anglesey Road. At a sharp right turn, where you see a playing field ahead, turn left through a small car park following the blue Wirral Circular Trail sign for Hoylake. The tarmac path runs beside the railway.

3. At the end of that path, turn left into Carr Lane, crossing the railway line, and continue to the roundabout, going straight across into the King’s Gap. Follow this road until you get to North Parade, turning right along the prom. Here’s where you enjoy those vast sea views, passing the model boating lake, the lifeboat station and on to Meols Parade. Eventually the road turns right into Bennett’s Lane. At the junction with Park Road, turn left and follow it to a fork, where you bear right into Carr Lane. Cross the railway with care here, continuing on Carr Lane for some time (be aware, the lane veers sharp left soon after the railway crossing). You will pass quite a few houses, then turn left into Carr House Lane and continue to a junction. Turn right into Millhouse Lane and at the traffic lights, go straight across into Saughall Road.

4. When you reach the big white pub The Saughall, bear left along Saughall Road. At the junction, go left along Saughall Massie Road, following the cycle path, then right into Girtrell Road. When the road veers to the left, carry straight on along the short path across a stream and into Wood Lane, turning immediately left into Courtsway West. Follow the road to the junction with Greasby Road, then cross at the pedestrian crossing to your left, continuing straight on into the park and bearing slightly to the right, taking the path which runs parallel to Arrowe Brook.

5. Eventually the path emerges at Arrowe Brook Road. Bear right and immediately left into Arrowe Brook Lane, continuing to the roundabout where you see the Irby Mill pub. Turn left into Mill Hill Road, and a few minutes later right into Hillview Road. At the T junction, go left into Sandy Lane, then right into Thurstaston Road continuing to the busy roundabout with Telegraph Road. Go straight across into Station Road, turn right and follow the road down back to the car park.

Area of ride: Thurstaston, Hoylake, Saughall Massie, Wirral.

Distance: 15 miles

Time to allow: 2 hours

Map: OS Explorer 266.

Refreshments: Chantilly tea room, 7 The Quadrant, Hoylake CH47 2EE; Marco’s New York Italian, King’s Gap, Hoylake CH47 1HE; The Saughall, Saughall Road, Saughall Massie CH46 5ND.