SOME years ago I wrote a number of articles called Innside Stories which covered the history of some of out traditional pubs.

In recent years many pubs have fallen victim to the economic slump but we sould never forget how important the inns were in the days when travel was a much more complicated business.

In the days before bridges many hostelries were the residences for men who operated the row boat ferries across rivers — the Aspinall Arms at Mitton was an example.

There was also a huge network of ferries across the Mersey and this week I am in search of the history of Eastham which is focused around the country park.

1. In 1846 Thomas Starky created landscaped gardens complete with rhododendrons and azaleas plus ornamental trees and fountains.

He added a zoo with a bear pit, monkey enclosures and even a den for lions, all to attract visitors to Eastham following the arrival of the railways.

He later added a boating lake, water chute, bandstand, ballroom and cafes. The pleasure grounds declined during the Great War and the last paddle steamer left Eastham Pier in 1929.

2. Job’s Ferry was much smaller than the one at Eastham but today its old landing stage is an excellent place from which to observe wildlife.

A thousand years ago the Bromborough and Eastham areas were the site of a regular market and annual fair.

With the arrival of the railways the area became a popular commuter area with merchants from Liverpool.

The tranquility of the area was disturbed as oil refineries spread along the banks of the Mersey.

Further disruption came with the arrival of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894.

3. From the old cast iron Eastham Ferry landing stage there are panoramic views over to the Liverpool skyline. You can also see the two hostelries, the Eastham Ferry Hotel and the Tap.

You may wonder why there are two so close together. The ‘posh’ Eastham Ferry Hotel was to service the needs of the well-to-do travellers while the Tap was the haunt of the servants.

4. This is the point which affords the best view of the Manchester Ship Canal.

5. Eastham is a venerable old village mentioned in the Domesday Book but far too many people drive through it to get to the country park.

In the churchyard is an old yew tree which some experts believe may be 1,500 years old. The Church of St Mary is reached through a lych gate from the 14th century.

The walk to this point reveals portions of both old and new Merseyside. A left turn leads to Branborough. A right turn leads along lines of trees to the country park. On the day of my visit I compared my bird records with those from 2004.

One bird which really seems to have increased is the goldfinch while the common house sparrow as decreased in number.

How to get there

From the M6 follow the M56 and the M53.

Turn off at junction 5 and follow the A47.

Look out for a brown sign indicating Eastham Country Park.

There is parking Length of walk: 3.5 miles Time: Allow three hours