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Dee Estuary. It is located between Heswall and Thurstaston and covers an area of approximately
9.25 acres.  To the north west of the valley is a small area of heathland which offers excellent views
across the estuary to North Wales.  The site was notified in 1988 due to its geological features which
show the Tarporley Siltstone Formation of the Mercia Mudstone Group.  A walk through the dundeon
shows off some surprisingly varied lands, with walks through lanes that sit deep between
hedgerows of hawthorn, blackthorn, bramble and other species.  Bird watching is also extremley
popular in this area.  Locals come to watch for nesting birds such as whitethroat fieldfare, redwing,
drakes, swans, harriers king fishers, sand piper, red throat diver, razor bills,  and waxwings who are
spotted throughout the year.   

A walk here will also take you through areas of low heathland, where you might see a short-eared
owl, as well as lizards and small mammals such as stoats.   There are hidden dells and waterfalls to
discover along the way in the Dungeon, Heswall's steep-sided, stream valley.  
Caves at the Dungeon
Waterfall in the Dungeon
In addition, the dungeon
also consists of many
interesting and varied
land forms.  The 4 mile
walk will reveal an array
of distinct and unique
geographical features.  

Rock forms littler the
route, as do small
craters, ponds, cliffs,
streams and caves.  The
walk takes you to an
altitude of 95 metres or
300 feet above sea level,
which is the highest
point on the Wirral
peninsula.  
The Dungeon is best reached from Wirral Country Park at Thurstaston, where there is parking, a
Visitor Centre, toilets and refreshments available.  From here a circular walk takes you along the
Wirral Way, up through the Dungeon and onto the footpath to Thurstaston village.  From the village
you can return to the Visitor Centre via Station Road.  The Dungeon also has a small sheltered
woodland, oak scrub and heathland.  The sheltered area of woodland in the stream valley contains a
variety of mature trees - Oak, Elm, Beech, Sycamore and Alder.  They provide shelter for insects and
woodland birds such as the Tawny Owl.  Higher up the valley the Alder wood floor is carpeted with
Lesser Celandine and Bluebells in spring, giving way to Red Campion and Shepherds Purse in summer.
The lowIand heath to the north
west of the valley suffers from
exposure to the salt laden estuary
winds.  The stunted oak and pine
exist in the more sheltered areas.
On the top bracken and small
patches of Heather (Calluna
vulgaris) flourish.  The heath is
used by foxes who take
advantage of the bracken and
bramble for cover. On tithe maps
this area is marked "fox holes",
indicating that the area has
always been frequented by foxes.  
Due to its exposed site and thin
soils, the heath has never been
developed for agricultural use.  
The bracken gives good cover for
small mammals and lizards.

The Triassic system of rocks which
was laid down across Wirral 230
million years ago, can be seen in
the outcrops and steep sided
stream valley of the Dungeon.  
This rock system is made up of the
Tarporley Siltstone Formation of
the Mercia Mudstone Group.  As
you enter the valley, a fault can be
seen just as the steep part of the
valley sides become narrow.  The
fault can best be seen by walking
up the stream for ten or fifteen
feet from the onset of the steep
sides.  Here the siltstone is faulted
against the older Wilmslow
Sandstone formation.  The rocks in
the stream are often very slippery
and care should be taken when
walking on them.
NB: Both photographs kindly provided by Stephen Ridgway