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North Wirral Coastal Park (England)

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The North Wirral Coastal Park is a linear park based on the route of the coastline embracing public open space, common land, natural foreshore and sand-dunes. The park lies between Dove Point at Meols and the Kings Parade at New Brighton

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      01.11.2009 10:05
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      A great place to visit for locals and tourists alike.

      North Wirral Coastal Park is the largest, and possibly the best park on the Wirral peninsular. This is a linear park, following the coastline for four miles from New Brighton at the edge of the Mersey estuary to Dove Point in Meols. Managed by the Wirral Ranger Service, the park is operated with people and leisure activities in mind. Angling, sailing, walking, bird watching, swimming, and horse riding are all catered for as well as of course, simply messing about on the shore. The park is easy to get to, leave the M53 at junction 2 onto the A551. After a mile or so, you arrive at Leasowe Common car park, where there is free parking for about 100 cars. Seven other car parks are spread around the park, so it's usually easy to find a space. North Wirral Coastal Park has extremely good facilities. There are three public toilets (Dove Point, Derby Pool, and Leasowe common), four picnic areas (same three areas plus at Leasowe Lighthouse) and refreshment kiosks at Leasowe Common and Derby Pool (which also has a pitch and putt course, and children's pool). The area around Leasowe Common is one of the best sites to visit. Here, the old Leasowe Lighthouse dominates the skyline and is open for visitors on the first and third Sunday of every month from 12:00 to 16:00. Built in 1763, it stands 110 feet high and is the oldest brick-built lighthouse in Britain. The beach at Leasowe Bay is worth a visit as unlike most of the beaches of the park, it is not completely covered at high tide. Here, a lovely sandy cove, sheltered by the sea wall on one side and a massive groyne on the other gives children a safe place to build sandcastles and explore the rock pools created by the large sea defences. This is also a bathing beach which has a lifeguard present during the summer. Other bathing beaches are at Dove Point and Derby Pool. For the walker, the coastal town of New Brighton is a pleasant walk of two miles away. For me, however, the park is made special by two things; the glorious views over to Wales and the Irish Sea, and the area's wonderful wildlife. The scenery is simply spectacular. The sea stretches for miles in front, seeming to merge with the sky at the horizon. The busy port of Liverpool is constantly visited by containerships, ferries, and even cruise liners. These appear to glide serenely along at a snail's pace before being lost to view behind New Brighton. To the north can be seen Formby Point and the strange structure of the new Crosby baths (looks like a downed flying saucer). The new wind farm interrupts the view out to sea, but to me the turbines look sleek and graceful as they slowly turn, generating carbon 'free' energy. To the west are the mountains of the Clywdian Range, with Moel Famau as their highest point. The waters are now cleaner than they've been for 100 years; safe to bathe in and beautiful to look at, gleaming a deep blue in gorgeous summer sunshine. When the tide is in, the water crashes against the sea wall with a thunderous roar, splashing spray onto the watchers above. This part of the Wirral coast is famous for its wildlife. The clean, golden sand of the shore gives way to mud further out which is incredibly rich in invertebrates and other wildlife. This rich food source supports a huge range of wading birds, particularly in winter when 100,000 birds can find a home here. At high tides, the rocky sea defences will be literally covered in wading birds; dunlin, ringed plover, turnstone, sanderling, redshank, and loads of oystercatchers will all compete for space as they try to rest whilst the encroaching sea covers their feeding grounds. During the autumn, this is one of the best seawatching sites in the north of England. On a windy day, skuas, terns, petrels, and rare gulls can all be seen battling the wind to make it to their summer feeding grounds to the south. The sea wall runs for the whole length of the park, giving a safe walking area even when the tide is in. The visitor can walk for miles, looking out to see, enjoy the sunshine and the wildlife, and hope to see one of the grey seals that turn up from time to time and stare curiously at the humans on dry land. Here is the one downside of the park, however. The area is popular with dog walkers, most of who are responsible and pick up their dog's mess. A few, despite the signs warning of fines for dog fouling, persist in letting their dogs mess on the path and refuse to pick it up. This leads to the path being unsightly and unhygienic. If you visit, watch where you're putting your feet! I visit here every few months, in good weather if I can. My favourite time is high tide, when I can hear the waves and see the roosting birds. The area is very popular with visitors, but the park is so large that even when the beaches are almost covered by the sea, it rarely feels too crowded. Residents of Wirral or Cheshire, looking for a beach to visit don't need to travel to North Wales, they can just pop down to the North Wirral Coastal Park for a lovely, inexpensive day out.

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