The wonders of the Wirral Peninsula are a short ride across the Mersey river. Notably, Port Sunlight, a squeaky clean settlement planned around the Unilever Soap factory to house its workers in the late 19th century. The result was a picture postcard village whose architecture inspired much of suburban Britain in the '20s and '30s.
Nearby, Birkenhead Park set the standard for similar sites around the world, including New York’s Central Park. Along the coast, seaside resorts such as West Kirby’s traditional promenade compete with wilder habitats such as Red Rocks Beach. The beach is home to an abundant variety of bird species and an important breeding site for Natterjack toads. With 22 miles of coastline and 50 miles of rural walks, it’s great place to catch your breath after the excitement of the city.
The Formby area is so picturesque that it is managed entirely by the National Trust. Walk among coastal pinewood forests where populations of indigenous red squirrels are fighting back against their grey interloper cousins. Foxes, rabbits and toads can be found amid their natural habitat.
Miles of sweeping shoreline, where Vikings settled in the once landlocked marshland, are ideal for beachcombers.
Families are attracted by the area’s temperate microclimate in summer months. Many head to the village of Freshwater to pick up picnic supplies before settling among the sand dunes that separate the area from the Irish Sea.
Straddling the Mersey river upstream, Halton incorporates an area that includes the towns of Runcorn and Widnes. The North’s best loved annual dance festival, Creamfields, occurs annually in August in nearby Daresbury. But for day trippers, the surrounding villages are the major draw.
On its western tip, where the mouth of the Mersey opens, Hale has its own river lighthouse. This charming village was once home to Britain’s tallest man, John Middleton, known as the "Childe of Hale." He was, according to legend, so tall he slept with his feet hanging out the two side windows of his cottage, which still stands on the village green.
Another local boy, from Daresbury, went on to become a giant of children’s literature. Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, is commemorated with figures from "Alice in Wonderland" in the window of the parish church where he was baptised. The Lewis Carroll Centre and church are popular attractions for book lovers.
As a testament to its Roman past, Chester has one of the UK’s best preserved walled fortifications. A 2-mile walk offers a bird’s eye view of this beautiful city. Relax in the Roman Garden — a 1940s homage to the city’s origins — which has many genuine artifacts.
Visit the Grosvenor Museum, home to Roman tombstones and a replica amphitheater. The Rows around Bridge Street are 13th-century half-timbered galleries (and Victorian replicas) offering a quintessentially English shopping experience.
Napoleon III once lived just off Lord Street in this traditional seaside town. Lord Street is still a popular tree-lined shopping boulevard, complete with gardens and historical buildings reminiscent of Paris.
Southport has wide golden beaches and a pier with traditional penny slots. The town offers vibrant nightlife and plays host to a variety of festivals — everything from jazz to comedy.
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