A short walk to Little Eye

Close to the village of West Kirby in Wirral are three tidal islands lying at the mouth of the Dee Estuary, Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre Island which have been designated a Local Nature Reserve.

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On an overcast May Bank Holiday Sunday we set off late morning to walk to Hilbre Island by way of Little Eye and Middle Eye the two smaller islands in the chain.  The islands are cut off from the mainland by the tide for up to 5 hours out of every 12 hours. The aim was to walk there and back during the low water period.

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We walked around the Marine Lake in West Kirby to the Dee Lane slipway making a direct line to Little Eye.  The tide had gone out around 9am but we were a little late in starting and you need at least three hours before the next high water to make the crossing over the sands to Hilbre Island and to complete the journey there and back safely.

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It was 1.15pm as we got to Little Eye with the next high water due at 3pm and we could see the tide coming around the landward side of Hilbre toward Middle Eye.  We decided that we had better head back to West Kirby and a coffee in the cafe on the South Parade.

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From Little Eye you can see clearly back to West Kirby, over to the North Wales coast and across to Hoylake further up the Wirral coast.

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Little Eye is a small outcrop of red Bunter sandstone topped with wiry grasses sticking up out of the golden sands of the Dee Estuary.  The three Hilbre islands have been occupied since Stone Age times with numerous archaeological finds on the islands, dating from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Celtic, Viking and Roman periods.  All that can be seen on Little Eye today of man’s presence are the remains of a brick and concrete moorings long since abandoned with a substantial iron bolt remaining defiantly in place.

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Hilbre Island has many more relics from later periods of history but that story is for another day.

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Heswall Dales

I’ve posted about Heswall Dales before.  It’s a great place to walk in all weathers as you are rewarded with great skyscapes as well as views across to Wales or out to Liverpool Bay.

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The Dales arean area of 73 acres of heathland and they are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as a Local Nature Reserve.  The site is red sandstone and the heathland area comprises in the main of heather, gorse and birch trees.

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As well as offering views of the Dee Estuary and the Clwydian Hills of North Wales you can get a clear view over to the Point of Ayr, the northernmost point of mainland Wales right at the head of the mouth of the Dee estuary. The Point of Ayr lighthouse stands on Talacre beach at this point.  At one time it had two lights; the main beam shone out to sea towards Llandudno and a second beam shone up the River Dee towards Dawpool, just below the Heswall Dales.  It was replaced by a light vessel in 1883 at which point it was retired as a working lighthouse.

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For many years a colliery operated at Point of Ayr which was the northernmost point of the Flintshire Coalfield.  It was one of the last remaining operational deep mines in Wales extending out northwards under the Irish Sea.  However the Point of Ayr colliery closed in August 1996.

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Now energy generation of a different kind can be seen in the distance behind the Point of Ayr headland with the Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm in Liverpool Bay off the North Wales coast.  It is currently the largest windfarm in construction anywhere in Europe.  Gwynt y Môr will consist of 160 turbines when complete.

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