Waterfalls, Japanese gardens and a lively pub - why isn't this everyone's go-to in Liverpool?

Liverpool's Festival Gardens are not what they seem to be at first.

Coming off Otterspool promenade and into the gardens, I'll be honest, it was uninviting initially, to say the least. There was a distinct lack of colour, personality and charm - even on a sunny afternoon.

Having said this, there is something about being by yourself in this part of the gardens that brings about a great sense of tranquillity. The serpentine paths would serve well for runners and cyclists who prefer to turn up their headphones and forget about the rest of the world for a while.

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It did, however, quickly become apparent to me I had entered the gardens’ woodland trials and needed to venture my way through the slightly overgrown dull grass and countless frail wooden branches to make it to the hidden treasure.

Stumbling across the Japanese gardens, I would imagine this is how a leprechaun feels at the end of the rainbow with their pot of gold.

The garden's beauty became more evident the further you went in. The foliage, made up mostly of dainty orchids and vibrant pink lilies, pleasingly compliment one another and the sun sparkled just the perfect amount in the shallow water.

Adjacent to the Mersey, the location was transformed into the UK's first-ever garden festival back in 1984. The idea behind it was to drive tourism to the city following industrial decline and the Toxteth riots.

Four decades on and several of the original features are still in place within the amazing centrepiece, including the red pagoda and a moon wall - both, of which helped lift the gardens' spirits alongside the birdsong. The subtle waterfalls completed the peaceful atmosphere.

I could count on one hand the number of others I saw strolling through the park, but no doubt, this will be a go-to for many families once summer comes around. You could easily lose track of time here between the playpark, having a picnic, and wildlife spotting.

Lying just three miles to the south of the city centre, the gardens are an ideal location to get to with St Michaels railway station being the closest stop to get off at.

Additionally, not even a five-minute walk away is The Britannia Inn, a lively chain pub with outdoor seating facing the River Mersey.

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