spike island area

inter tidal zone

4: spike island area

Last time the Intertidal topic was all about a true intertidal zone in the North West of England, with Canal and River and walk and cycling and an historic Pub! Accessible from the River Mersey and PART of the Sankey Canal and road and Trans Pennine Trail. This time we Go West! That is to say, further west along both the ‘interrupted’ lovely canal and further downstream of the River Mersey.Sankey Canal & Trans Pennine Way:

map of the Sankey or St Helen's CanalNo. 4 is the location of Spike Island. Spike Island is an island between the Sankey Canal and the estuary of the River Mersey, part of Widnes in the Borough of Halton in north-west England.

The island contains parkland, woodland, a path along the canal and the river and is next to the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, the only science museum in the UK solely devoted to chemistry.

It also allows excellent views of one of North West England’s newest landmarks, The Mersey Gateway Bridge.

Mersey Gateway BridgeThe Mersey Gateway Bridge is a toll bridge between Runcorn and Widnes in Cheshire, England, which spans the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, unfortunately not the Sankey Canal!

Looking up river from Spike Island, you will have exciting views, bracing air and several opportunities for photography.

The crossing, which opened in October 2017, has three traffic lanes in each direction and is approximately 1.5 km east of the older Silver Jubilee Bridge. Above picture courtesy of The Mersey Gateway Project. You will see from the Google Map screen shot below that when the satellite took the picture, the bridge was not yet built, but trust me it is there and well worth doing some research into the project, Sankey Island aerial shotthe engineering challenges and the road that had to be built to facilitate the building. Just think, folks will be marvelling at this in in years to come in the same way as some of us marvel at our canal engineering and bridges now.

Spike Island was also the site of the now legendary outdoor concert by the Manchester group, The Stone Roses in May 1990 when nearly 30,000 fans headed for Widnes to be part of what became known as the 'Woodstock for the baggy generation'.

Overlooking Spike Island is Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, a great action-packed family attraction, devoted to chemistry and how the products of chemistry are used in everyday life. (source: visitliverpool.com)

The information board at the site shows among other interesting facts a 200 year+/- timeline of events that impress the reader and help illustrate the rich history of Spike Island on the Sankey or St Helens Canal and River Mersey.

  • 1757 Sankey Canal opened
  • 1833 St. Helens to Runcorn Gap Railway line and Station opened
  • Widnes Dock opened
  • Sankey Canal extended
  • 1844 St. Helens Canal and Railway Company is founded
  • 1847 Hutchinsons Works Opened
  • 1850s Gossages Works Opened
  • 1852 New Runcorn Gap Railway Station opened following the Garston rail extension
  • 1932 Gossages Works Closed
  • 1975 Reclamation of Spike Island began
  • 1990 Stone Roses outdoor concert


Useful Links...
Trans Pennine Way 
Sankey Canal
Spike Island Nature Reserve
Way Marking (SpikeIsland)

For an in depth article on The Pennine Way by Anna of Camino Adventures read
The Pennine Way – One of the Greatest, Most Challenging Walks in the UK

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About Bob Sanders

Bob Sanders retired IT Consultant uses Canals, Rivers, Lakes and Sea to relax, exercise and reconnect with nature. Bob is a 'paddler' not a 'boater', licensed and inured through Canoe England who follow best practice for all users of the waterways.