I drive to Heswall, but it’s raining heavily this morning so I sit in my car and make notes for the piece I’m writing for Countryfile Magazine. Yesterday – in a howling gale – I had my photo taken for the mag. Now, I must get on with the actual writing.
Midday. The rain stops and it’s time to heave my rucksack onto my shoulders and get going. I walk down a narrow road, totally misnamed as ‘Broad Lane’. The tarmac is silver with water.
[On a previous blog post, Di, who live locally, told me I could walk along the shore from Heswall if the tide was out. But the water is high at the moment, and yesterday I had a tiring struggle through reeds and mud, so today I’m being cautious and sticking to the road.]
Through gaps in the bushes I catch occasional glimpses of the Dee Estuary, which is currently being battered by a rain storm.
A post office van trundles past. I love those little red vans. Even in the most isolated rural area, with nobody else around, you come across them going about their business. Such a reassuring sight.
Ahead the road is closed. Oh no!
I ignore the signs and continue. Soon I come across a couple of vans with hi-vis-jacketed men who seem to be replacing telephone cables. I wonder if they came down in the gales yesterday?
Further on and I meet a horse who seems to be wearing a Macintosh. He/she looks a bit embarrassed. Yes, you do look ridiculous.
The road comes to an end at a private driveway. My heart sinks – it’s a long walk back along Broad Lane. But then I spot a footpath sign, cunningly hidden in a hedge.
After meandering across a field, and then through a thicket of trees, I arrive on the shore. A proper sandy beach and the SEA. At last!
I climb down and walk near the water. Looking back down the estuary I can see I’m at the junction where marsh gives way to beach. I wonder how long before the marsh takes over this section too. In fact, there are reeds growing here now, poking up defiantly through the waves.
Ahead are crumbling sandstone cliffs, reminding me of the south coast, of Dorset and Devon. And I notice there is no way through. The tide is still covering the shore.
I turn back and climb to the top of the cliff. Time for a self-portrait. Crikey! I look like a crazy woman who’s been dragged through a bush backwards. Hate to think what I’m going to look like in the magazine! And it was much windier yesterday when the photographer took his photos.
It’s pleasant walking along the cliffs beside the shore. But, all too soon, I come to private farmland and have to turn inland again.
I reach the official Wirral Way, a combined cycle and walking route that runs for 12 miles along the track of an old railway line and which, together with surrounding areas of parkland, forms the Wirral Country Park.
The route is punctuated every now and then by bridges, which all have names (Links Bridge, Simon’s Bridge). It’s popular.
Soon I’m able to head back towards the sea again, walking through parkland dotted with lakes, surrounded by copses of twisted trees, and threaded through by paths.
I reach an open area and resist the temptation of an ice cream van.
Then a path takes me down to the sea…
… and I walk along a beach, past a white house – Shore Cottage. It stands alone, with the beach in front and the low hill behind. What a wonderful place to live.
The sun is out, the clouds are clearing, and it’s turning into a lovely afternoon. I walk onwards, under russet cliffs, towards the slipway at the far end of the beach.
The slipway belongs to a sailing club and marks the end of the route along the shore.
Inland, once more, and I rejoin the Wirral Way. Actually, I discover there are two Wirral Ways. One is straight walking/cycling track. The other is a bridleway that runs just above the wider route. The bridleway is narrower, twists and turns, and is enclosed by bushes. Which way would you choose?
Of course, I choose the narrow bridleway. Not only is it marginally closer to the sea, but it is also completely deserted. Despite a sign warning me to ‘Beware of Horses’, I don’t meet any.
I come to a section of parkland running just above the shore. There’s Wales across the estuary.
It’s another popular spot. West Kirby is close ahead.
Unfortunately, private property intervenes, and I have to turn inland once again and walk through streets in order to reach the promenade. Here I see a surreal sight.
I squint into the sunlight, now bright in the west. People seem to be walking on the waves!
Turns out there is a Marine Lake running the length of the front at West Kirby. A retaining wall holds in the water – even when the sea disappears to the horizon at low tide – and creates a wide lake for watersports. The wall also provides a wonderful promenade.
I very much enjoy walking along here – a gleaming strip running between muddy sand and choppy waters. And there are great views over the lake to the West Kirby seafront, which is an odd mix of new and old. It’s very attractive in the sunshine. A proper seaside resort.
The walkway curves around towards the shore again. I’m coming to the end of this section of my walk.
Looking out across the sands, I can make out the raised hump of Hilbre Island. It’s a tidal island, accessible 3 hours either side of low tide. And I can see a string of people making their way across. There’s even a vehicle slowly making its way back across the sands.
I look at my watch. 4:30pm. Now I’m going to catch the bus back to Heswall, pick up my car, and drive back here. The tide is lowest at 6pm and I can’t resist an evening walk out to the island.
This walk = 7.5 miles
Total distance = 2,602 miles