No trip to Liverpool would be complete without at least a long slow gaze out to the River Mersey – the gateway to the city’s spectacular UNESCO world heritage waterfront and the lifeblood of the city. Better still, why not take a trip across this iconic stretch of water yourself!
The River gave its name to Merseybeat, the sound developed by the numerous local bands of the sixties, led by the Beatles, which musically announced Liverpool to a global audience. In 1965, one of those groups, Gerry and the Pacemakers, released the top ten single “Ferry Cross the Mersey” – a song that resonates across the river to this day. There was even a musical film of the same name.
Originating at Stockport near Manchester, the Mersey eventually spills out into Liverpool Bay 70 miles further west. At its widest point, near Ellesmere Port, it is three miles wide. The river has the second-highest tidal range in the UK with spring tides of over 8 metres.
A railway tunnel between Birkenhead and Liverpool opened in 1886, whilst two road tunnels pass under the estuary from Liverpool; the Queensway Tunnel, which opened in 1934, connects the city to Birkenhead and the Kingsway Tunnel linking with Wallasey, which came into service in 1971.
The Mersey is a constant hive of activity, frequented by ferries, pleasure boats, cruise liners, and merchant shipping. Twice it’s received visits from the Tall Ships Fleet - in 2008 and 2012. In 2015, the world's largest and grandest ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, was joined for the first time ever on the River her sister ships, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth for an unprecedented 'dance' in celebration of Cunard's 175th anniversary.
Not surprisingly, The Mersey Ferry itself is one of the city’s major tourist attractions, operating between Pier Head by the iconic Liver Building and Woodside in Birkenhead and Seacombe, a mile away on the Wirral.
There are also a number of 50-minute cruises you can take on the river to marvel at this unrivalled and ever-changing land and seascape. One suggestion would be ‘Snowdrop’, the country’s only operating Dazzle Ferry, specially commissioned to commemorate World War One.
Or combine your trip with a host of visitor attractions along the Liverpool riverside, including The Beatles Story and other attractions at the Albert Dock.
Meanwhile, the River Explorer Cruises include free entry to the fascinating U-boat Story at the Woodside ferry terminal. Another option would be to take a trip into space at Spaceport in Seacombe, which includes its own planetarium.
Further north is the Port of Liverpool, this is an extremely busy operational container port and coupled with the Airport, Manchester Ship Canal, the extensive rail and distribution network including the Mersey Mulitmodal Gateway (Which includes Eddie Stobart’s Port) operations forms Liverpool’s Superport. Only just opened are the two huge cranes capabale of unloading the largest container ships in the world from the two brand new in-river berths.
A few miles south is the distinctive Runcorn bridge a vital link to Cheshire and Manchester via the M56 motorway and which has since being built in the 1960’s exceeded its capacity and therefore a brand new £600milliion pound bridge will be completed in 2017 called the Mersey Gateway.
On and from the Mersey there’s so much to see!