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On to Liverpool, Bristol, Poole

Phil and Sue Newdick continue their pre-Covid travels in England, including a visit to Sue's namesake islands . . .

Our train from Glasgow to Liverpool involved a minor hiccup — when we booked online with Virgin Trains we were informed that the service to Liverpool was unavailable due to line maintenance. However, by transferring from the Northern Express to a local commuter train at Wigan we were in due course delivered to Lime Street (Liverpool) as planned.

We caught a bus to our apartment from the station, but could not pay for it. The driver couldn’t cash an English £20 note and didn’t really consider the very good Bank of Scotland £5 note we had was legal tender. It was not a problem, he just waived the fare and delivered us safely to our temporary home in Liverpool.

Even without the Beatles, Liverpool was great. One thing we noticed was that everyone spoke just like the Beatles. We discovered a sculpture commemorating the World War 1 Christmas truce. It was at the St Luke’s Church which was bombed out in WW2 and never restored. It consists of two fibreglass figures, about to shake hands, capturing the moment British and German soldiers stopped fighting and played football on Christmas Day 1914.

With a bit of knowledge and a lot of luck we managed to find rail transport to West Kirby that would coincide with low tide there. This was important as we needed to walk across the tidal inlet to get to the Hilbre islands. Sue’s middle name is “Hilbre”, and she had dragged us halfway round the world to see the islands she had been named after.

Even without this very special meaning, the island proved to be well worth the visit.

There are three islands, Hilbre, Little Hilbre and Middle Eye at the mouth of the river Dee. There have been no permanent residents on the islands since 2012, although there are what appear to be holiday homes and an old lifeboat station on the main island. It is very picturesque and quite accessible on foot from West Kirby at low tide.

Comfortable journey to Bristol

The train journey to Bristol was comfortable, our choice of a bus from the station was also a good call, as the journey to our accommodation was all uphill and quite steep in places. The bus delivered us within a short walk to our next home. We were near the university and although the students tended to party long and loud, they didn’t inconvenience us at all.

We were pleasantly surprised with Bristol — although it is a university city now, it has an extensive maritime history and was the departure port for many of the voyages of exploration to the new world.

There are monuments to some of these explorers, including John Cabot who in 1497 was the first European to land on the North American mainland. There is also a tower on Brandon Hill that was built to mark the 400th anniversary of Cabot’s voyage to what became Canada. We climbed the hill and the 32 metres up the spiral staircase of the tower; the 360 degree-view from the top was worth every step we had climbed.

Bristol was walkable but very hilly in places; however, there was so much to see that any discomfort seemed insignificant. The Clifton suspension toll bridge 100 metres above the River Avon was another significant climb and again well worth the energy required.

We had decided to travel into France via Jersey, so headed to Poole for a one-night stay before catching a ferry across the English Channel to the island for a short stay before we caught another ferry to St Malo and France.

We knew that the journey to Poole involved a train change at Dorchester West, however we hadn’t anticipated a 10-minute walk to another station. Our train into Dorchester was late and when finally we panted into Dorchester South, we found to our dismay we had missed our connection . . . dismay turned to relief when we found there was another train 20 minutes later.

We arrived in Poole at a reasonable time and stayed in an old English pub. All accommodation in Poole was expensive but we found it comfortable; the food was plentiful, good and reasonably priced.

The ferry to Jersey was a late-morning sailing so we had some time to take a look around. It is a coastal town in Dorset, southern England, known for its large natural harbour and sandy beaches. The “old town” has quaint Georgian houses and has a large natural — and very busy — harbour. Poole was part of our journey as a one-night transit and it would be a great summer seaside experience for young people . . . but not really us. We boarded the ferry as planned and five hours later were in St Helier on Jersey Island.

Hilbre Island: Sue at her namesake Hilbre Island at the mouth of the estuary of the River Dee — part of an archipleago of three islands. This is also the border between England and Wales. Pictures supplied by Phil and Sue Newdick
ALL TOGETHER NOW: This statue, named All Together Now, depicts the Christmas football game played between the Allied and German soldiers during WW1. It is on display at the bombed-out St Luke’s church in Liverpool.
A BURNT-OUT SHELL: St Luke’s Church, which faces down Bold Street, is a monument to the 1941 Blitz on Liverpool. The building was almost completely destroyed by an incendiary bomb in May 1941 and has remained as a burnt-out shell ever since.
CLIFTON BRIDGE: The Clifton Suspension Bridge spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. Since opening in 1864, it has been a toll bridge — the income from which provides funds for its maintenance.
THE VIC ROOMS: The Victoria Rooms in Clifton, Bristol contain a 665-seat auditorium, a lecture theatre, recital rooms, rehearsal rooms and a recording studio. Built in 1842 in honour of Queen Victoria — in the Greek revival architectural style — a statue of Edward VII was erected in 1912 at the front of the Victoria Rooms, together with a curved pool and several fountains with sculptures in the Art Nouveau style.
COUNTERWEIGHTS: Pero pedestrian bridge — the pair of horn-shaped sculptures act as counterweights for the lifting section.
HISTORIC CITY CENTRE: King Street is a 17th-century street in the historic city centre of Bristol.
A GREAT PLACE TO STAY: The Queen Mary Inn in Poole — great accommodation.