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Merseyside Flag

Though officially only formed in 1974, and one of England’s smallest counties by area, Merseyside still packs a mighty punch. Well known for its contribution to national popular culture, this north-western powerhouse is a force to be reckoned with in life and tourism. With plenty to see and do, Merseyside is alive with attractions and destinations to give both locals and visitors the perfect excuse to explore.

Days out in Merseyside

As one of the UK’s most visited destinations, the Merseyside area offers a whole range of things to do for every age. Though largely urbanised, the city of Liverpool and the town of Birkenhead, together with the wider area that includes Knowsley, St. Helens, Sefton, and the Wirral, have plenty to keep you entertained inside and out.

Famed the world over as the birthplace of The Beatles, Liverpool is a mecca for music fans. You can visit the infamous Cavern Club to see where it all started and experience The Beatles Museum in Mathew Street to see the largest Beatles' collection in the world. Don’t miss the bronze statue of the fab four for a photo op at Pier Head!

While the list of attractions in Liverpool is almost endless, major highlights include the historic Albert Dock, the Museum of Liverpool, the Tate Gallery, a tour of Champions League and Premier League champs, Liverpool’s legendary Anfield Stadium, and the shops, restaurants, and bars at Liverpool One. See the city from a different perspective with a ferry trip across the Mersey.

Across the water in the Wirral, Birkenhead is home to the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, a wonderful collection of exhibitions of local, national, and international interest, while the Lady Lever Art Gallery contains examples of ceramics, furniture, sculpture, as well as a collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.

In St. Helens, the area’s rise to becoming a leader in glassmaking is well documented at the World of Glass Museum. And for rugby fans, visit the magnificent 18,000-capacity, Totally Wicked Stadium, home of 2020 Super League Champions, St Helens RFC for a game or a stadium tour.

Knowsley is perhaps best known for the Knowsley Safari Park - an epic area of over 550 acres featuring over 700 species of animals. Famous for its Safari Drives, you can enjoy a 5-mile car journey through different zones to see stunning animals up close, including lions, rhino, camels, and bison – and many more.

Though you might not think it, Merseyside has plenty of miles of beach and attractions to visit, stretching 22 sandy miles across Sefton, from Southport down to Crosby. Southport is home to its famous pier and the Southport Pleaserland amusement park, while Ainsdale Beach is renowned for extreme kite flying. Formby Beach is National Trust-owned with sand dunes and surrounding woodland, while Crosby beach marks the beginning of the Sefton Coastal Path.

Topography, geology, and climate

Though mainly urbanised, Merseyside has some distinct land qualities and provides a mix of assorted soil types with a range of fertility levels.

Across much of the Wirral peninsular, the land is largely permeable and seasonally wet, slightly acid but base-rich loam and clay soils of medium fertility. There are also smaller pockets of low fertility, free-draining, mildly acid sandy soils. Similar soil types appear across much of south Merseyside.

North Merseyside features plenty of variations with naturally wet sand and loam with high acid levels. But there are a handful of smaller areas made up of low fertility raised bog peat soils, particularly between Knowsley and St. Helens. Towards the coast, naturally wet but highly fertile, fen peat soils turn to high acid sand and loam before reaching the coastline which is a lime-rich sandy soil.

With a temperate maritime climate, on the whole, Merseyside doesn’t suffer from weather extremes, hot or cold. Temperatures across the summer months typically average around 20ºC (68ºF), while winter temperatures average at 2ºC (35ºF). Thanks to its coastal location, Merseyside can be fairly wet with rainfall averaging 835mm (33”) across the year.

Merseyside’s parks and gardens

With Merseyside’s relatively small, urban footprint, traditional gardens across the county are few and far between. But alongside a smattering of notable gardens in the county, there are some excellent public parks to enjoy. There are also one or two gardens just across the county border that are close by and provide additional interest.

North Merseyside

Croxteth Hall and Country Park is a beautiful 210-acre green space on the outskirts of Liverpool. And tucked away among the expansive lawns and surrounding meadows and woodland, which are free to explore, is the wonderful Victorian Walled Garden. With a unique range of plants, you can see plenty of colourful herbaceous borders and beds alongside plenty of vegetable plots. And don’t miss the long glasshouses with a collection of tropical plants from as far back and the early 1800s.

Just a few miles away, Stanley Park in Anfield separates the city’s two famous football stadiums and provides a lovely 111-acre, award-winning, Grade II listed open space to enjoy. Complete with sandstone pavilions and an expansive lake with winding pathways, allowing you to take in the surrounding trees and wildlife, you can see the formal rose gardens before enjoying refreshments in the iconic Isla Gladstone conservatory.

Not to be outdone, the nearby Everton Park and Garden is equally impressive. Covering almost 100-acres, the park is split into several areas and includes the Nature Garden, an established natural habitat, rich in wildlife, alongside a walled community garden with an array of ponds, bridges, a wildflower field, and raised flower beds providing seasonal colour.

Just five miles from Liverpool city centre, Speke Hall and Garden is a renowned National Trust-owned Tudor house with beautiful grounds and restored gardens. Alongside surrounding woodland, extensive lawns are home to beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas while pathways lead you into the formal rose garden, full of seasonal colour and scent. Another highlight is the kitchen garden with a wonderful herbaceous border and a fine display of herbs and vegetables.

South Merseyside

On the Wirral, Birkenhead Park is a Victorian, Grade I, historic park covering over 200-acres in the heart of the town. With something for everyone, the park has plenty of natural features offering a relaxing, open space at any time of the year. Winding pathways lead you through the park and around two lakes, one of which includes a stunning Roman boathouse and an original rockery. There are also tennis courts, bowling greens, and a kids playground area.

Still on the Wirral peninsula, but technically just over the county border in Cheshire, the Ness Botanic Gardens are an RHS Partner Garden spread over 64-acres and offers an intriguing experience. Part of Liverpool University, the gardens are used for horticultural research but are open to the public to explore in full. Expect to see a lush pinewood and rhododendron border, rock garden, Mediterranean garden, and water garden, all giving colour and interest throughout the year.

Just a mile down the road, Burton Manor Gardens is a beautiful walled garden, run and looked after entirely by volunteers. Small but perfectly formed, the formal garden is Grade II listed and features clipped lawns, with well-stocked beds and borders and a wide range of plants and flowers, plus terraces and a pool, all overlooking extensive parkland beyond