Mersey River Trip
The short but impressive River Mersey runs for just 113 km (70 mi) from Stockport in Greater Manchester to the sea in Liverpool Bay, for some of its length now merged with the Manchester Ship Canal. It is the historic boundary between the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire and – perhaps more significantly – the river has played a huge part in shaping the character and fortunes of the great northern port city of Liverpool.
Its wide estuary is constricted as the Mersey passes between Liverpool and Birkenhead. There, it may be crossed by two road tunnels and a railway tunnel dating back to 1880 – but by far the most famous way of crossing the river is on the Mersey ferry, which runs from George’s Landing Stage at the Pier Head in Liverpool to the terminals of Woodside in Birkenhead (opposite the Pier Head) and Seacombe in Wallasey on the Wirral Peninsula bank. There are triangular River Explorer Cruises with informative commentary that take in all three terminals and some of the river towards New Brighton.
But the real experience is the simple Ferry Cross the Mersey, as immortalized in song by Gerry and the Pacemakers as part of the 1960s explosion of musical creativity in Liverpool known as Merseybeat. There was a hit single, album, film, musical plus several cover versions of this well-known song – and the self-same femes that inspired it are still running today. The three ferries are Royal Iris of the Mersey, Snowdrop and Royal Daffodil (originally Mountwood, Woodchurch and Overchurch after post-war housing developments in Birkenhead when launched in the late 1950s, all renamed after major refits in the 1990s). Ride one of these on the short river crossing and enjoy a wonderful view of the thing that made Liverpool great – its waterfront.
WHEN TO GO:
Any time of year (but the riverscape can be gloomy in winter).
TIME IT TAKES:
The direct Seacombe or woodside to Pier Head service each take 10 minutes, the round-trip River Explorer
Cruise takes 50 minutes.
The Pier head, with the splendid edifices known as ‘The Three Graces’ – the Royal Liver Building crowned by
twin Liver Birds, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Unlike the wonderful Staten island Ferry in New York, the Mersey Ferry isn’t free, though tickets are not expensive.