The Wirral Way, West Kirby to Wirral Country Park walk

The Wirral Way is a coastal path that runs along the Wirral Peninsula. Once an old disused railway line, this 12.2-mile trail offers a route from West Kirby to Hooton in Chester.

I’ve walked along the Wirral Way hundreds of times, and now I’m using it to teach my son to ride his bike. It’s away from roads and flat, perfect for just that. The Wirral Way was opened in 1973 after the railway line between Cheshire and Wirral closed in 1962. 

Girl walking under the Wirral Way sign.
Start of the Wirral Way in West Kirby.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk or a cycling adventure, the Wirral Way is ideal. It has plenty of stop-off points, including West Kirby, Thurstaston, and Parkgate.

How long is the Wirral Way?

The Wirral Way spans 12.2 miles (19.6 km) from West Kirby to Hooton in Cheshire. You can walk small sections of it, getting on and off along the way.

How long does it take to walk the Wirral Way?

The Wirral Way is 12.2 miles long. On average, completing the entire route takes between 4 and 5 hours. Of course, this depends on your fitness and walking speed.

Girl walking along the West Kirby section of the Wirral Way.
Wirral Way alongside Ashton Park.

If you are going to tackle the entire trail, It’s always a good idea to plan your route ahead of time and bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you fueled during the walk.

What facilities are available on the Wirral Way? 

There are several car parks and picnic areas along the Wirral Way, as well as toilet facilities at certain points. Several pubs and cafes are also located near the route.

Are there any stations preserved on the route?

Yes, on the Wirral Way is the Hadlow Road Station in Willaston. It is a Grade II listed heritage railway station and museum. Formerly, the museum was a working railway station on the single-track Hooton to West Kirby branch of the Birkenhead Railway.

The railway line from Hooton to West Kirby commenced operations on October 1st, 1866. Passenger services ceased on September 17th, 1956, but the line remained in use for freight transportation until May 7th, 1962.

The Hadlow Road Station in Willaston.
The Hadlow Road Station in Willaston Image Credit: Friends of Hadlow Road Station Community Group

It is the only one that survived demolition and has been restored to its 1956 condition with the help of local residents. It has an authentic ticket office, waiting room, and telephone box.

Cheshire West and Chester Council own the station. The Friends of Hadlow Road Station Community Group, led by Chris Hampshire, was formed to preserve this historic station and create opportunities for community groups and schools to learn about the station and experience the nostalgia of the past. Occasionally, they host events and feature a pop-up cafe.

Hadlow Rd, Willaston, Neston CH64 2UQ

West Kirby to Wirral Country Park via the Wirral Way

2.9 miles | Takes roughly 1 hour | Easy / flat path route

West Kirby Wirral Way entrance.

West Kirby to Wirral Country Park and back is one of my go-to walks/cycles. It’s long enough to tire out my 7-year-old and stretch my legs, and the views are some of my favourite in Wirral.

West Kirby and Wirral Country Park offer so much, so this route is ideal if you’re looking for a bit of everything! Think beach, woodland, parks, picnic areas, pubs, and restaurants. It takes you past Ashton Park and Cubbin’s Green, lovely places to spend time. The route is flat and easy to follow. 

If you are going to return via the Wirral Way, making the walk around 2 hours, consider taking some water and a few snacks with you. 

Begin at the entrance to the Wirral Way in West Kirby.

I begin this route from West Kirby; I’ll usually have breakfast at one of the lovely cafes in the area, such as Hannah’s, or just pick up a takeaway coffee and pastry from___ and then begin my walk! Then, head to the entrance to the Wirral Way in West Kirby.

Start here: West Kirby, Wirral Way entrance

History of the West Kirby railway line “The Joint”

The Joint information sign in West Kirby.
Information boards along the Wirral Way contain interesting information about its history.

The railway line connecting Hoylake to West Kirby was established by the Wirral Railway in 1878. Subsequently, in 1886, the Chester and Birkenhead Railway introduced a rural single-track railway from Hooton, with stations at Parkgate, Heswall, Thurstaston, and West Kirby. Additional stations at Kirby Park (1894) and Caldy (1909) were later incorporated.

The line was jointly managed by the London, North Western, and Great Western Railways, earning it the nickname “The Joint.” They continued to operate it until nationalisation in 1948.

Bridge connecting the two sides of Ashton Park.
View from the bridge connecting the two sides of Ashton Park.

The park, which opened in 1901, was designed around the railway. A footbridge was built to connect the Upper and Lower Park; the current footbridge was constructed in 1924.

The West Kirby Joint station was separate from the Wirral Railway station, but trains could run through to Wirral Railway tracks. The station had a single platform, a simple brick station building, a loop for engines to change ends, a turntable and a goods yard. The Caldy and Kirby Park stations were even more basic, with a single wooden platform and a wooden shelter.

Ashton Park Bridge.
Bridge connecting the two sides of Ashton Park.

A limited service

Service was limited, with only 14 trains per day in 1921. Due to low usage, passenger services were discontinued in 1956. However, freight trains and occasional special services continued to operate until the line was permanently closed in May 1962, before the Beeching cuts. Notable special services included trains transporting RAF personnel to RAF West Kirby, a Royal train in July 1957 carrying the Queen and Prince Philip, trains carrying guests to the Cadbury’s Moreton Factory, and electric trains used for maintenance at Horwich Works. 

The Wirral Way.
The Wirral Way is flat and easy to follow!

Despite efforts to preserve the line as a heritage railway after its closure in 1962, a campaign to save it failed. Instead, Cheshire County Council opened Wirral Country Park (Wirral Way) in 1973, which became the UK’s first Country Park.

Continue past Ashton Park

Ashton Park is lovely; walking past always reminds me of my childhood!

Ashton Park Pond.
The Wirral Way is flat and easy to follow!

The park is equipped with various amenities, including a children’s play area, multi-use games area, two bowling greens and pavilions, grass and hard-surface tennis courts, a rose garden, a lake with a fountain and wildfowl, formal and informal gardens, a park lodge, teashop, toilets, and a grass junior football pitch.

You can walk through the park and spend some time here or continue straight to Cubbin’s Green.

Ashton Park, Westbourne Rd, West Kirby, Wirral CH48 4DH

Cubbin’s Green

I have said it before and will say it again: Cubbin’s Green is a proper hidden gem in Wirral. It’s such a lovely spot.

Walking to Cubbin's Green from the Wirral Way.
Pathway from the Wirral Way to Cubbin’s Green.

Here, you can stroll along the beach, picnic, and enjoy the public nature reserve. I always recommend this place to friends to spend time together and especially to watch the sunsets.

Learn more about Cubbin’s Green and its history here.

Again, you can spend some time here or continue to Wirral Country Park

Wirral Country Park

Wirral Country Park view from the Wirral Way.
Wirral Country Park view from the Wirral Way.

Keep walking along the Wirral Way until you reach Thurstaston Beach and Wirral Country Park, a beautiful parkland with woodland, plenty of grass space and picnic areas. You’ll find designated BBQ spots at the park on Station Road, which you can use freely or book in advance during peak season – perfect if you are making a day of your visit!

Visitor Centre at Wirral Country Park.
Visitor Centre at Wirral Country Park.

Additionally, a visitor centre is close to the Wirral Way, making it a great stop point on longer walks. There are good family facilities, toilets, car parking, exhibition areas, bird hides and more. 

The Whistle Stop Cafe in Thurstaston.
Enjoy a rest and a cuppa at The Whistle Stop Cafe.

You can also visit The Whistle Stop Cafe, run by Bee Wirral, which benefits the community. All profits are reinvested into Bee Wirral CIC to support various community activities. It is located inside the visitor centre. Visitors can enhance their bird knowledge in the bird hide, savour delicious coffee, tea, and homemade food indoors, or enjoy stunning views across the Dee estuary while sitting outside.

If you want more refreshments, Flissy’s Coffee Shop is next to the park’s car park, just off the Wirral Way. The staff are warm and welcoming, and the food is great.

End here: The Wirral Country Park, Station Rd, Thurstaston, Wirral CH61 0HN

If you want to extend your walk, there are fabulous walking routes/trails from Thurstaston.

Want to continue? If you want to extend your walk, there are fabulous walking routes/trails around Thurstaston. You can also continue following the Wirral Way to Heswall and Neston.

Stay near the Wirral Way, Wirral Country Park Club Campsite

You can stay at the Wirral Country Park Club Campsite. The campsite covers 2,000 acres and features several pitching areas, beautifully separated by trees and shrubs for privacy. Some pitches even have glorious views of the Dee Estuary. This is an ideal spot for families, cyclists, and those wanting to explore the Wirral Way. This campsite is conveniently located for those planning to visit Liverpool or explore North Wales.

Find more information here.

Wirral Coastal Walk

Heart on Wirral Beach.
Take part in the Wirral Coastal Walk.

Starting at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton, The Wirral Coastal Walk is a 20km walk with intermediate stopping points at 6 kilometres (Leasowe Common) and 12 kilometres (Kings Gap). This route includes part of the Wirral Way.

The walk suits individuals of all fitness levels and is a fantastic way to raise money for a chosen charity or cause. I will be completing it this year for Action On Pre-Eclampsia. You can read more about me and why this charity is important to me here.

Click here to learn more and get involved!

Hopefully, I have inspired you to visit Wirral and walk the Wirral Way! I feel so lucky to live in this part of the world with so many beautiful walks, beaches, parks, and history to learn about. I will expand on this article; if there is anything you think I should add, let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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