IT wasn't quite a hole in one, but then again this was the 18th at St Andrew's, known globally as the 'home of golf'.

Within minutes I'd left the world's oldest, most famous golf course and was in the desert, sampling Abu Dhabi's luxurious, state-of-the-art golf resort.

At Championship Adventure Golf, you can work your way through the world's greatest golf holes - in miniature.

From Portugal's 16th Vale de Lobo to America's 12th Augusta National, 18 holes have been lovingly re-created for a crazy golf experience with a difference. Even the vegetation reflects the golf course, with gorse for Scotland and Palm Trees for Dubai.

Voted 'Attraction of the Year' at Wirral Tourism Awards 2014, the family-friendly site is divided into two sections; the Championship Course and the Landmark Course, featuring local places such as New Brighton Lido and the Mersey Tunnel.

After some gentle putting we tucked into ice-cream at Caffe Cream, where a bewildering array of flavours leaves you spoilt for choice. The diner-style cafe is part of New Brighton's Marine Point, a smart leisure complex on the promenade comprising a cinema, restaurants, bars and children's play centre.

Perched on the tip of the Wirral Peninsula, New Brighton was a popular seaside resort in its heyday, with a tower and ballroom to rival Blackpool's, and Europe's biggest open-air pool.

Today it's the 'New' New Brighton, following a £70 million regeneration. The centrepiece is the Floral Pavilion, an entertainment complex on the site of the old Victoria Gardens Pavilion and Palace Theatre, where the likes of Ken Dodd and the late Cilla Black once graced the stage.

Leaving New Brighton, we headed for West Kirby's Marine Lake, home to Wirral Sailing Centre which offers a range of water sports, including sailing, windsurfing and kayaking, as well as trips along the Dee Estuary to see grey seals and the Hilbre Islands.

The 52-acre lake is world-renowned for sailing. Breezing across it in a motorised dinghy was an exhilarating way to experience the spectacular Wirral Way weaving along the coastline.

Staying in West Kirby, we had lunch at the Wro Lounge, where light poured in through tall windows and a pretty orangery. The award-winning venue - split over three sites, the Bar, the Lounge and the Loft - blends stylish decor and casual dining, with lunch bites including lamb kaftas, black pudding and poached eggs muffins, and butternut squash and black bean curry.

The previous evening we'd dined at The Riverhill Restaurant in the conservation village of Oxton which offers a seasonal la carte and table d'hote menus, along with Sunday lunch. I had poached salmon fillet in a delicious lobster bisque sauce, and my partner enjoyed braised belly pork with a chorizo and apple sauce.

There's fine dining a-plenty in Wirral, which offers natural beauty, including more than 50 miles of rural walks and 20 miles of coastline, family attractions, active pursuits and cultural hotspots. Nestled between the rivers Mersey and Dee, and stretching out to the Irish Sea, the peninsula boasts sweeping beaches and a country park, nature reserves and historic houses. It's a short drive from Liverpool, through the Birkenhead Tunnel, but with a circular walking/cycling trail and 14 golf courses, Wirral offers a very different mini-break experience.

We stayed at the Leverhulme Hotel and Spa in the charming village of Port Sunlight, built in 1888 by William Hesketh Lever to house his soap factory workers. One of the finest surviving examples of a garden village, and a Conservation Area, it has 900 Grade II listed houses, and eight public buildings, including a school, concert hall and pub. The old soap works are now occupied by Unilever.

One of the great Victorian philanthropists, Lever took working-class families out of urban slums and placed them in pretty houses with gardens in open parkland. With a vision that went beyond social care, he promoted self-improvement and encouraged his workers to fill their leisure time with cultural activity.

The Port Sunlight Museum includes re-created sets of workers' homes, and a charming little film about the early 'Sunlighters'.

We enjoyed a walk around the village, calling in at Hulme Hall where history unfolded at a golf club dance on August 8, 1962, the night Ringo Starr first played with the Beatles. In the museum you can listen to the Beatles' first recorded interview, with Monty Lister, which took place in a side room at Hulme Hall on October 27, 1962.

A keen art collector, Lever amassed paintings, sculptures, ceramics and furniture from around the world and displayed them in a beautiful gallery devoted to his wife. A splendid centrepiece of Port Sunlight, Lady Lever Art Gallery is home to Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Millais and Rossetti, portraits by Gainsborough and landscapes by Turner. More than 1,500 items, including Chinese porcelain and the world's largest Wedgwood collection will next year be re-displayed in the South End of the gallery, currently under restoration.

Back at the hotel, we unwound with afternoon tea. Built in 1907 as Port Sunlight Cottage Hospital, the Leverhulme is a boutique hotel blending classic and contemporary features. Popular for weddings, it's a quintessentially English hotel, with an elegant staircase leading to chic art deco rooms.

As the evening approached, we headed back to New Brighton for dinner at the Floral Pavilion before a performance of La Traviata, sung by the Russian State Opera in Italian with English surtitles. Old Lever would have been in his element.


Leverhulme Hotel and Spa, (0151) 644 6655 or

Championship Adventure Golf, (0151) 638 9135 or

Wirral Sailing Centre, (0151) 625 3292

The Wro Lounge, (0151) 625 2010 or

Riverside Restaurant, (0151) 653 3773 or

Floral Pavilion, (0151) 666 0000 or

Port Sunlight,

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