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The Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, UK

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The Wirral Peninsula is in the north-west of England and is bounded by the River Dee on the west and the River Mersey on the east. Running down the centre of the peninsula is the M53 motorway which could be said to be the backbone of the area but which, more truthfully, divides the rural west of the peninsula from the heavily industrial east. The nearest cities are Liverpool on the other side of the Mersey and Chester at the very south of the peninsula.

West of the M53 are numerous small villages - Irby, Ness and Raby, to name but three - that tend to feature large houses and splendid country pubs. The largest communities here are West Kirby - replete with marina (and worryingly, cyanobacteria in the water) - Heswall and Neston. Perhaps the most intriguing town is Parkgate which is now most famous for its ice-cream shops. In earlier days, before the River Dee silted up, it was a major tourist destination and a thriving port.

The Home of Persil

The east is a lot more urban, with many major manufacturing complexes, such as Lever Brothers - home of the soap powder, Persil - at Port Sunlight and Vauxhall Motors (home of the Astra) at Ellesmere Port. The most well known of these factories in days gone by, the shipyard of Cammell Laird at Birkenhead, has long stopped producing and is now a centre for refurbishing vessels. Birkenhead is the commercial centre of the Wirral although many locals no longer shop there, preferring the larger shops of Liverpool city centre or the first British retail village (close to Ellesmere Port). This has resulted in a decline in the services available.

The Wirral is blessed with its own professional football (soccer) team, Tranmere Rovers who play at Prenton Park. They are an English second division side and, at the time of writing, and in this Researcher's opinion, for the foreseeable future will not trouble their Premiership neighbours at Everton and Liverpool.

Entertainment Varied but Limited

Entertainment on the Wirral is limited to the many pubs - among the best are the Cherry Orchard in Arrowe Park, the Chimneys in Hooton, the Ring o' Bells in West Kirby and the Travellers Rest in Bebington. There are a few clubs, like Ruperts, Sherlocks and Stairways in Birkenhead and Ritzy in Bromborough1. There are also the cinemas in Birkenhead, Bromborough and Ellesmere Port and the sport centre in Bebington.

For those among you who are into walking, the Wirral Coastal Path which runs along the north of the Peninsula or the Wirral Way from Hooton to West Kirby are recommended.

Getting There

Getting to the Wirral is fairly easy by car - drive north from Chester or through one of the tunnels from Liverpool. Public transport is not the world's most reliable, but the ferries are fun.

Should global warming proceed as predicted, and the world's seas rise, the low-lying Wirral will all but disappear, with only Bidston Hill and the old oceanographic observatory at its summit remaining.

1A word of warning; this Researcher has heard of more fights breaking out in Birkenhead than in Liverpool.

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