West Kirby to Hilbre Island
Last updated 2nd May 2013
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This walk of 4 miles (6½ km) over the sands from West Kirby to Hilbre Island and back is quite unlike any other on merseyWalks and is not to be missed. It is only possible when the tide is sufficiently far out. There is an information board at the start of the walk giving details about safe crossing and tide tables (in GMT) are available from the merseyWalks home page. I would recommend starting the walk as soon as the ebbing tide has passed Little Eye because then you will reach Hilbre Island when it is still almost an island and you will have the maximum amount of time to explore, enjoy a leisurely picnic and do some seal spotting. The island scenery is hugely attractive - windswept grass and rocks with sandy coves and remnants of earlier habitation - and there are stunning views of the Wirral and North Wales coasts. A reader, Amy Simmons, informs me that there are two public toilets on Hilbre (thanks for the info - saves scrabbling around in the rocks!). There are also public toilets at the start of the walk. However you will need to take any refreshments you need with you. The sands can be wet and/or muddy in places and the rocks slippery. Waterproof walking boots would be ideal, or comfortable wellies provided they have a good grip. Bare feet are not recommended! I must emphasise that this is the only safe way to cross to Hilbre and return. The direct crossing between Hilbre Island and Hilbre Point is dangerous because of deep tidal channels and quicksands and is not advisable, though you will see people attempting it.

The relevant Ordnance Survey 1:25000 Explorer map is No. 266. For further information on the locations visited, click on the images.

Detailed mapping and satellite photography for this walk courtesy of Bing Maps
Printer friendly page for this walk (no photos)

Set off from South Parade at the end of Dee Lane [1] with West Kirby Marine Lake [2] just to your left. Free parking around here is soon snapped up but there is a pay and display car park just opposite. West Kirby railway station is minutes away. Make a bee line over the sands for the tiny outcrop of Little Eye [3], which is directly in front of you ¾ of a mile (1 km) away. Over to your right in the distance are Hilbre Point and Red Rocks.

Have a mooch around Little Eye, not much of which is above water at high tide, then head off over the sand north-west for Little Hilbre Island (sometimes known as Middle Eye), which you can see about ¾ of a mile (1 km) away. As you approach Little Hilbre the terrain becomes more rocky. Keep to the right of the rocks or you will become cut off from your final destination by impassable beds of very slippery black seaweed.

On arrival at Little Hilbre, there is a pleasant little beach [4] with a natural arch to the right. To the left of this, steps lead up to a path traversing the grassy plateau of the island. Wander over to look at the cliffs on the west side.

Descend over rocks at the northern tip of the island [5], where there is a good view of Hilbre Island close in front of you. As you approach over the flat rocks, there is a fine sandy beach [6] backed by sandstone cliffs.

Go over the slabby rocks to the left of the beach alongside some very red sandstone cliffs. You soon pick up a path leading to the grassy plateau.

You pass the old telegraph station several other old dwellings [7] and there are superb views of Hoylake, West Kirby and North Wales as far as the Carneddau Mountains of Snowdonia and the Isle of Anglesey.

At the northern tip of the island are the ruins of the old lifeboat station [8] and some dramatic cliffs. There are plenty of sheltered spots around here to sit and enjoy a picnic and take in the view. You often see seals swimming near the rocks.

Have a good look around the island and then follow the same route back to West Kirby. The town is not short of restaurants and watering holes should you feel the need.