2012: Friday Walks, To the Islands and beyond

To our own surprise, we hadn’t done this walk since 8th January, our first Friday Walk of  this year. Like The Marshlands last week we don’t often do it in the summer as there’s virtually no shade. And also because there can be too many people for our liking during the holidays. Mind you, there were quite a lot of people on the walk today. And that’s because, dear reader, this Friday Walk took place on a Saturday.

Yes, we knew the rain on Friday was likely to get progressively heavier all day. And we knew we wanted to do this walk. And we just didn’t fancy trekking back from Hilbre, across the open sands, in driving rain. And you know what? They’re our lives and we can do what we like with them! So we Friday Walked in bright sunshine, on a Saturday.

That’s where we’re going. Three little islands out in the mouth of the Dee Estuary.

First up is Little Eye.

Yes, Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre they’re called. Hilbre is apparently after St Hildeburgh, variously thought of as Anglo Saxon or Viking. The other two are two of the least convincing names for islands I’ve ever heard. Maybe because they’re uninhabited no one’s ever felt too creative about their names. My 1840 map of the area calls the middle one ‘Middle Island’. So now, I think, we know. They’re nothing to do with ‘Eyes’.

Beyond ‘Little Island’…

Beautiful wave sculptures…

In the sand.


‘Middle Island’…

Our lunch place.

Sarah establishes that the seal colony is still in its expected place, towards Wales on a distant sandbank.

I did attempt a photograph of this, but its a pathetic collection of little black dots across miles of open sand and water.

Me, I’m just waiting for my lunch.

Which we then have, looking back towards West Kirby…

And the whole of the Dee Estuary, where we so often walk.

Fed and contented…

We think of moving on to Hilbre…

And decide not to bother. We’ve been there many times. And today we know the island, lovely as it is, is going to be crowded with other walkers. and so we strike off west, not particularly into the wilderness, but certainly into the mildly discouraged.

At West Kirby there is a notice board containing clear directions about how to walk to and from the Islands. Which we’re about to ignore.

Walking directly across the mouth of the Dee Estuary…

Leaving Hilbre at our backs…

Towards distant Red Rocks and Hoylake…

Off we go.

Even a rainbow pops out curiously.

But we know precisely what’s happening because we’ve checked the tide table. It’s two o’clock, just before low tide today. And the best and only possible time to do this walk. We wouldn’t do it at any other.

And as we get closer to Red Rocks we see clearly what would happen later as the tide comes in.

This channel would fill around us. And we’d be cut off. Because the mouth of the Dee is not as harmlessly flat as it can appear.

But it’s low tide about now and of course we safely reach the far shore, as we’ve seen many others do before us. And when we get there we find a much expanded marshland has silted up over here since we were last at Red Rocks, several years ago.

Looking across the new marshland to the Islands.

Marsh grasses have sprung up…

And it’s altogether more interesting than the thin strip of grassy sandhills that was all that used to be here.

Closer to West Kirby the marsh ends in a suspiciously straight line…

Leaving West Kirby with a beach that’s open and sandy, but must take some considerable maintenance to preserve.

And the day…

Winds down early…

As days do now in the darkling time of the year…


Remember, never do any version of this walk without checking the tide tables for the day. Sarah uses this app.

5 thoughts on “2012: Friday Walks, To the Islands and beyond

  1. cheethamlib

    No I can see why one shouldn’t do that marvellous walk without consulting the tide tables.Lovely photographs of the sky and water.Excellent to see a new marshland perhaps there is hope for us yet.

    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Yes Mandy, we were delighted to find the new marshland. Since we did the walk Wirral Council have announced spending cuts, including what they spend maintaining their beaches. So I wonder if that means the marsh will spread onto West Kirby beach?

  2. lindsay53i

    Gorgeous pictures, Ronnie! I see ‘darkling’ has had another outing! Funny how some words have great appeal. There’s a French word I have just learned the meaning of that I love & try to slip it into conversations all the time. ‘Bordelique’ meaning messy & untidy. It replaced another favourite word ‘epouvantable’ meaning appalling. The darkling night draws in here so I’m off!! xx

  3. Ronnie Hughes Post author

    Hi Lindsay, yes it’s like where most people start bringing out the sparkly lights, I start saying ‘darkling’ at every opportunity. And your words are lovely too. Must be very tempting for you to look for things that are messy, untidy AND appalling so you can use both your words in the same sentence?

  4. Pingback: Hilbre sandstone: a memory buried in time « That's How The Light Gets In

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