One of my favourite things to do is travel. As a child, I read pretty much any and every travel book I could lay my hands on, had a bucket list of places I was desperate to visit and spent hours whiling away the time, nose in tome, imagining myself walking with the author in the amazing destinations s/he/they evoked. I know I’m not alone in that. For so many of us a good travel guide is worth its weight in gold, especially now on this, 5 November, the first day of Lockdown Mark II. At times like these, when we’re physically restricted by circumstances beyond our control, we need to be able to escape, even if it’s just in our imagination. And England, with its vibrant cities and beautiful landscape, diverse cultures, eccentricities, colourful history, is as wonderful a place to go to as any. So, it’s with pleasure that I’m reviewing Kevin Sene’s The Mersey Estuary, published by Matador.

Sene, a scientist with special interests in issues to do with water and climate, has created what is obviously a labour of love, even down to the very fine maps he’s drawn. The area he’s chosen to focus on is an estuary, ‘the part of a river where water levels are affected by the tides’ and this particular one stretches about 30 miles from the upper tidal limit of Howley Weir in Warrington to the coast.

Divided into two sections, the first focusing on places to visit, the other on the natural and maritime history of the estuary, the book includes sites in Liverpool, the Wirral and Cheshire shorelines and the Upper Estuary, between Runcorn, Widnes and Warrington.

It’s incredibly detailed, including suggestions of places to go, some off the beaten track, cycle and walking routes, where to spot seals and dolphins around Liverpool Bay and information on one of the lost rivers of Liverpool, among a host of other things. It’s fascinating and joyful, celebrating the very best of what makes this area so appealing to visitors. And that’s especially poignant as it’s also an area that’s been hit quite badly by the pandemic.

While I know some of the places Sene describes from childhood holidays and visits to friends in the area – when one could visit anyone – there are a lot of enticing places in here to go to in the future. And that’s really exciting. Because we will get beyond this point. We will have a new normality. There is no choice. We have to go on living and enjoying the world around us, celebrating all that’s rich and mesmerising about our landscape, nature, wildlife, each other. So, read this book and imagine you’re cycling along the Trans Pennine Trail, between Warrington and Halewood, enjoying the Upper Estuary in the wintry sun, or walking from Frodsham along the Sandstone Trail … Or don’t just imagine it: if you live in the area, take the book and do one of Sene’s self-guided walks or cycle routes.

There’s a lot to enjoy in The Mersey Estuary. Whether it is in person or in your head. And I know what I’m doing when I’m free. Visiting Formby Point, where at low tide, one can sometimes see footsteps, human and from species long extinct, from thousands of years ago, beautifully preserved in the stratified silt beds, the oldest from Neolithic times. Proof that humankind is resilient. That while we may have to change, we evolve, survive. How great is that?



The Mersey Estuary: A Travel Guide | Kevin Sene  | March 2020 | paperback | £19.99 | Matador

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Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the book tour organised by Random Things Tours. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation and to the publisher for supplying a review copy of this beautifully produced book. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other reviews on this tour.

See also: Kamala Markandaya’s beautiful words’; ‘Alice Walker and the power of poetry’;‘Helen Fitzgerald’s Ash Mountain’‘Jane Harper’s debut The Dry, murder and mayhem in small-town Australia’;CWA’s Vintage Crime’; ‘Amanda Craig’s homage to Highsmith‘; ‘Chris Whitaker’s small-town America’; ‘Nora Roberts’ Sanctuary: an Old Familiar’; Carver’s Nothing Important Happened Today’; By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Also of interest: Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956). Hitchcock (2012).

This review is copyright © 2020 by The Literary Shed. All rights are reserved. All opinions expressed are our own. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please contact us for permission and provide the necessary credit. Thank you so much. We welcome your feedback.






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