With winter just around the corner, it’s time to start exploring Liverpool. It sounds weird saying “exploring Liverpool” but it’s such a dynamic city there’s always something new to see.
Liverpool’s a city awash with icons, and there’s no better place to start than on the iconic Mersey Ferry.
Tip: Don’t start singing “Ferry Cross The Mersey”, it’ll stick in your head all day…
The Mersey Ferry
In days gone by, the ferry was simply a workhorse, crisscrossing the river with commuters. During rush hour, it still does, but the ferry is more of a tourist attraction these days, take a look at what they’ve done to it:
This ferry, known as the Dazzle was created by Sir Peter Blake to commemorate World War One. The eye-catching patterns were originally painted on ships to confuse the enemy, it sounds crazy, but apparently, it worked.
We boarded Dazzle at Seacombe for a river cruise. You can get on and off the ferry at Seacombe, Woodside and the Pier Head or just stay on for the round trip. Onboard, there are refreshments, audio commentary and, of course, Gerry’s “Ferry Cross The Mersey” puts in an appearance.
- The Benedictine Monks ran the first regular ferry from Birkenhead to Liverpool. The Monks would row over to the fishing village in Liverpool on market days, and offer the service to travellers.
- The service was granted a Royal Charter by Edward III in 1330.
- Edward III also granted the right to the Earl of Chester to run the ferry service from Seacombe to Birkenhead, establishing the Wallasey ferry. These two operations merged as Mersey Ferries in 1968.
- Rowing across the Mersey would take 90 minutes in calm weather; however much longer in rough conditions.
- In one day, the ferry had over 100 arrivals and departures on the Liverpool – Wirral service.
- The ferry used to run all night before the opening of the Mersey tunnels.
- The Mersey Ferries were the only way of getting across the river until the opening of the railway tunnel in 1886.
- In 1863 when the Channel fleet visited, 55,000 people took the ferry out to see the Navy ships.
- Before radar was installed in 1947, ferry captains had to rely on fog bells to give them an audible target to aim for
- The Mersey Ferries were the first in the world to install a radar system for safe navigation in fog, in 1947.
Seacombe Ferry Terminal
Disabled parking is a bit of an issue near the Pier Head, so we decided to take a trip through the Mersey Tunnel and park up in Seacombe. I love the views of Liverpool from Seacombe!
There’s plenty of free disabled parking at the terminal and access to the terminal is flat with automatic doors.
Access down to the ferry is quite steep, you can ask for assistance. What I can say is, I found it tough going on the ramps, especially coming up. I’m sure the staff at the terminal would help push you if you needed it. Here is the Mersey Ferries Access Statement, I’d still contact them if you are unsure.
We had some time to kill before the ferry left so we had a little bimble around the terminal and breakfast in the cafe.
If you’re visiting with the kids, you can also visit Spaceport, but I think you have to pay extra!
Onboard The Razzle Dazzle
The Mersey was calm; if it was choppy you’d have to be careful getting on the ferry. The access platform bobs up and down with the boat and there’s a lip to get over. The ferry staff are more than willing to help you, just take care.
Onboard we could only access the lower deck; if you’re able to climb stairs you could go on the top deck for better views. There are plenty of seating areas, refreshments and an accessible toilet on the lower deck.
Bridget was happy at the back of the vessel because it’s less busy, I was just trying to get some decent photos – fail!
I tried to do a few arty farty photos…
We didn’t get off at Woodside; if you do; you can visit the U-Boat Exhibition which is included in the price of your River Explorer ticket. I feel sorry for the tyres…
They still fix warships on the River Mersey …
Then onwards to Liverpool …
The Pier Head
Whether approaching on the ferry or viewing it from the opposite side of the river, the Pier Head and Liverpool skyline is spectacular. I remember when the area was a smelly bus station and derelict docks. These days, it’s dominated by the Three Graces, Museum of Liverpool, Albert Dock, Echo Arena, Conference Centre and the Liverpool Eye.
The Pier Head itself has been redesigned, from a wheelchair user’s point of view, it’s wonderful.
We decided to get off the ferry and bimble on the Pier Head for a bit. The ramp up from the jetty is steep, ask for assistance if you need it. I managed it, but it wasn’t easy.
For more information about Liverpool use Visit Liverpool
It was time to head home, here’s my first ever attempt at making a video, aptly named “The Leaving of Liverpool”.
Ferry Cross The Mersey
We’ve been on the ferry plenty of times, but never as a tourist. It really is one of those must-do things when you visit Liverpool, 600,000 visitors a year can’t be wrong.
We highly recommend the river cruise, access is generally fine, but check before you visit if you need a push.