259 Heswall to West Kirby

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.

01 Ruth hiking the coast, Heswall, Wirral

[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.

02 rainstorm over Dee Estuary, Ruth Livingstone

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.

03 postoffice van, Ruth hiking on The Wirral

Ahead the road is closed. Oh no!

04 road closed, Broad Lane, Ruth Livingstone, Heswall

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?

05 men at work, Ruth Livingstone

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.

06 horse in a raincoat, Ruth Livingstone

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.

07 hidden footpath, Ruth in Broad Lane

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!

08 Beach, Wirral Country Park, Ruth hiking the coast

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.

09 looking back to Heswall, Ruth walking the coast of The Wirral

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.

10 looking forward to West Kirby, Ruth's coastal walk, The Wirral

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.

11 self-portrait, Ruth Livingstone on The Wirral coast

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.

12 Wirral Way Country Park, Ruth livingstone

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.

13 Wirral Way, Ruth Livingstone

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.

14 Ruth Livingstone in Wirral Country Park

I reach an open area and resist the temptation of an ice cream van.

15 ice cream van, Ruth hiking in the Wirral

Then a path takes me down to the sea…

16 Ruth walking the coast, Dee Estuary

… 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.

17 Shore Cottage, The Wirral, Ruth Livingstone

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.

18 beach, Ruth Livingstone, Wirral

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?

19 Wirral Way and bridleway, Ruth walking the coast of England

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.

20 back on the coast, Ruth Livingstone, Wirral

It’s another popular spot. West Kirby is close ahead.

21 Ruth walking to West Kirby, Wirral coast

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!

22 walking on water, West Kirby, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

23 marine lake walk, Ruth in West Kirby

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.

24 West Kirby, Ruth walking around the Marine Lake

The walkway curves around towards the shore again. I’m coming to the end of this section of my walk.

25 West Kirby, Ruth walking the English Coast

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.

26 Hilbre Island, Ruth hiking to West Kirby

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


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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13 Responses to 259 Heswall to West Kirby

  1. jcombe says:

    Glad to hear you made it out to Hilbre Island, I was hoping you were going to – I really enjoyed that.

  2. Great photos as usual. I’d love to live at the white cottage, it certainly looks a very peaceful spot. I I remember going to West Kirby with my parents when I was quite young but I don’t really remember much about the place itself; it looks like it could be quite interesting. And I’ve never seen a horse rugged up like that before, it does look a bit silly 🙂

  3. Di iles says:

    Lovely read as ever Ruth. It’s ashame the tide was so high for you though.I’m down there most weekends and the tide nearly always seems to be out. Really pleased you made Hilbre though. You’ve a photo of my favourite bench at Cubbins Green, love sitting there with my flask of coffee on a walk.

    • I envy you living in such a lovely place. Yes, shame I couldn’t make it round by the shore on that day, but the walk was very pleasant and I enjoyed it.

    • Di iles says:

      Lived here all my life Ruth and appreciate it more than ever now as I get older. I took it for granted when I was younger. But like you I love the coast.⚓️⛵️🐬🐳🌊

  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    A part of the country I don’t know at all – finding the retreating coastline fascinating.

  5. mrszee333 says:

    Humorous ‘Postman-Pat’ encounter .. and a lovely read beside the fire. You must have an iron will to resist the temptation of an Icecream on the way! Or perhaps the Icecream vans are common?

    • I just love those little vans – as you may have realised 😆
      No, I don’t really see many ice cream vans, because most of the coastline is quite empty unless you are in a resort area. But they are VERY hard to resist. (I confess I usually do have one, when I’m not on a diet!)

  6. Marie Keates says:

    I would M have chosen the bridleway too and I’d have loved walking across the sea, what a lovely idea. I’m pretty sure I end up looking just like you on many of my walks. My hair is wayward at the best of times.

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