Rachel Handley stands on the Twelve Quays route with the Three Graces visible across the Mersey

Rachel Handley stands on the Twelve Quays route with the Three Graces visible across the Mersey

A young woman is finally able to enjoy a riverside walk thanks to 12 years of campaigning by her uncle.

The Merseyside walk will be officially opened later this week and will allow views across the river of Liverpool’s world heritage site architecture from a route that had been closed to the public.

Wirral resident Graham Handley began his Twelve Quays Campaign after being thwarted when he took his six-year-old niece Rachel Handley to view the Queen Elizabeth II sail into the river in 2000, but found the waterfront closed to walkers.

Almost 12 years later, the mayor of Wirral will open the walkway with members of Wirral Ramblers and Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society.

The route, linking the Woodside and Seacombe Ferry terminals, has now been added to the Wirral definitive map. The opening is the culmination of protracted negotiations with the port authority and Wirral Council.

It has now been recorded as a public walkway, providing the necessary protection to keep it open for the public to enjoy.

The closure not only blocked off views of the river, but also the best view of the vista of the Three Graces – the three buildings that form the centrepiece of Liverpool’s world heritage site, including the Liver Building.

Over a period of 12 years campaigners fought to get the historic section of embankment re-opened and the campaign was supported by more than 40 local and national organisations.

This included the Ramblers, whom Graham Handley approached for help in getting the route shown on the definitive map, having discovered strong evidence that the walkway should remain open to the public.

The public was barred from the Twelve Quays route when the Queen Elizabeth II sailed into the Mersey in 2000

An initial joint application by the Wirral Ramblers and the Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Society to the council for the route to be recognised as a public right of way was rejected, but they appealled to the Secretary of State and the council was directed to make the order to add the path to the definitive map.

In 2005 the joint applicants worked with the council and Peel Holdings, the new owners of Port Authority, and came to an agreement to avoid the cost and delay of a public inquiry.

Graham Handley said: “My niece Rachel has just turned 18 and, like other Wirral residents, is delighted that her generation and those yet to come are once again able to enjoy the waterfront walk with its world famous view, a view that without the help of the Ramblers would have been lost.

“The successful outcome shows what can be achieved when people and organisations come together as a community and find a way to work together.”

As well as the success in securing the original route which has been used by the public for decades, there will also now be an additional route along Tower Road and through the ferry terminal to a large viewing area on the riverside, which will allow members of the public to view events taking place on the river.

Max Kirby, president of Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society said: “We hope the people of Wirral will enjoy making use of this path with its splendid views across the river.”

Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Gerry Ellis added: “We are happy to see the successful resolution of this to the satisfaction of all concerned. I am looking forward to officially opening the official walkway and seeing for myself its fine views across the Mersey.”

Arthur Cheetham, past area president of the Merseyside and West Cheshire Ramblers said: “We are delighted that we have been able to negotiate a satisfactory conclusion to the Twelve Quays Campaign and avoid the cost and uncertainty of a public inquiry. This would not have been possible without the cooperation of Peel Ports and ensures an excellent outcome for all involved.”

The mayor will join campaigners and port officials in a vintage bus trip to the riverside on Friday to cut a ribbon and officially declare the route open.

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