The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter 
Volume 1, Issue 20 - Online version


main menu

Open Days.
Plan Your Visit.
How to Join.
MIU Events.
Volunteers' Work.

Inside this issue:
Open Days of the Hilbre Interpretative Centre.
Mobile Information Unit (MIU).
Tasks on Hilbre 2007.
The Friends of Hilbre Family Evening
Plans for Hilbre in 2007.
Funding News from the Friends.
Common Seal released into the Dee.
Archive Appeal.
Contributions to the Friends of Hilbre Newsletter.
Notes for the Annual General Meeting in May 2007.
Seal Watching Refresher/ Training Day March 2007.
Safety Notice.
Latest Newsletter.



Wading birds roosting on Hilbre in the snowy winter of 1962, by the late John Gittins


If you wish to contact the Friends of Hilbre committee please e-mail: 

Tides: Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371
e-mail Wirral Country Park Rangers on
e-mail Coastal Rangers on

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Public Open Days of the Telegraph Station Lookout
Interpretative Centre and Seal Watching

Hilbre Telegraph Station Interpretative Centre
© Val Burnett

Staffing the exhibition in the Telegraph Station Lookout Building and running seal watching for the public involve guiding visitors and giving information. Eight events are scheduled, all on Sundays, over low tide around midday. Volunteer staff must be Friends of Hilbre members because of insurance.

Members who attended the seal watching training day in 2006: please will you contact Dave, the Hilbre Ranger, if you can volunteer for duty, or wish to attend the refresher/training day arranged for March, and if you can’t come after all. New members are welcome.

Our Information table shows the earliest time on each occasion for crossing from Dee Lane slipway, West Kirby to Hilbre, and the latest time to start back from Hilbre. For dates and times please see Open Days.

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Mobile Information Unit [MIU]

The MIU at Dee Lane slipway  © Val Burnett

Friends of Hilbre members staff the Wirral Ranger Service Mobile Information Unit (MIU) on selected dates between March and October at Dee Lane slipway, West Kirby. Bookings for other events/venues will be arranged throughout the year. For dates please see: MIU Events.

Would members please contact Val if they wish to help. Volunteers are always welcome to join the team. If you feel unable to help, perhaps you would like to visit us at the MIU. Volunteer staff must be Friends of Hilbre members because of insurance.

Volunteers need:

  • an awareness of the work The Friends of Hilbre are involved in for the benefit of Hilbre Island.

  • an ability to communicate with members of the public with diplomacy.

  • a curiosity about other people’s memories of the Hilbre Islands.

  • some knowledge about the different aspects of the Hilbre Islands and the Dee Estuary, which can be learned on the job.

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Tasks on Hilbre 2007

Left, Volunteers can do a variety of practical work including woodwork © Val Burnett
Right, Maintenance of low cliff top walls is ongoing to help prevent loss of soil and vegetation © Val Burnett

All tasks are at weekends, and last over the high tide. Members of the Friends of Hilbre wishing to volunteer their help will meet at Dee Lane slipway and bring lunch, a drink and suitable clothing and shoes. Members have received task dates by post in the paper copy of this Newsletter.

For examples of the types of tasks members undertake please see: Volunteers’ Work

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Friends of Hilbre and volunteering for practical tasks on the island please contact:

Volunteers must be Friends of Hilbre members, aged over 18, because of insurance.


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The Friends of Hilbre Family Evening

This event will be in August for members of the Friends of Hilbre and their families. The date of the family walk is in the paper copy of the Newsletter. Children over 5 years old will be welcome if accompanied by an adult. These walks have been led by Sue who has shared her extensive knowledge and her love of the islands with children and adults alike. All participants have enjoyed the walks under Sue’s leadership. Why not join us next time?

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  Plans for Hilbre in 2007

Wirral Borough Council, which owns the islands, is hoping to install composting toilets on the main island for visitors’ use. For further information please see News Flash.

There are plans to use the building on the left as a day centre for organised groups.
© Val Burnett

If plans turn out well, there should soon be improved facilities for organised parties to use the Barn Room, near to the Lookout, for day visits. Casual visitors will still be able to call in the Lookout on scheduled Open Days, when Friends of Hilbre should be in attendance, and the seal watching telescope set up, (weather permitting).

A walking group en route to Hilbre Island © Val Burnett

School and college study parties, wild life groups, ramblers and others should watch later in 2007 for the contact address to enquire about using the Barn. All party bookings, as before, must have a date and a free permit from Wirral Country Park, 0151 648 4371 to avoid the over-use of this fragile nature reserve.

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Funding news from the Friends

Our Grants Sub Committee has made contacts during the last 12 months, and has received over £2,000.00 from Wirral Borough Council’s Community Initiative Fund, and the Local Agenda 21 Funding. This has been spent on books for the study room, which are available now to organised parties, and will be more easily available in the new Day Centre, when the Barn is ready.

A multi media screen, supplied by Steve Cumberlidge, who runs the webcam was paid for by this fund, and should soon be operating on Hilbre for visitors to watch the Dee Estuary and its seals. Recorded discs can also be played, such as the new DVD: ‘Hilbre - an Island in a Wilderness’. Copies of this DVD are on sale on the MIU Caravan.

Hoylake Historical Society gave the Friends a generous gift at our last AGM, and we are spending it on books, discs and reprints which will help careful historical research projects for groups visiting Hilbre.

At present, we are not applying to the Lottery funds, as other sources are available to Wirral Borough Council. In the meantime, the sub committee looks into sources of help and cash. When the time comes, we shall be ready to apply to local and national bodies which provide funding for the preservation of the islands, their wild life, and their buildings, for use by local people and visitors.

Common Seal

A young Common seal found in Lancashire was released by the RSPCA into the Dee estuary near Hilbre. Our own seals are Grey Atlantic seals, but Common seals visit us occasionally. Good luck to our new neighbour.

Archive Appeal

Do you have any old photographs, film footage, videos, articles, books, or stamps etc. relating to the Hilbre Islands that you are willing to share? If so, please could you contact us on our e-mail address. Copies could be made, and originals returned to their owners if required.

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Contributions to the Friends of Hilbre Newsletter

The Do you have a memory to share? If anyone would like to make a contribution to the Newsletter please e-mail it to The editor reserves the right to edit any submission.

 Notes for the Annual General Meeting in May 2007

We are making these advance notes available to members, so that there is plenty of time to receive nominations, ideas, etc. for inclusion in the meeting.

Susan Craggs will retire as Chairman, having done the job for 6 years, and feeling that it is time for someone else to lead this hard-working and devoted committee. She will stand for election as an ordinary committee member, if called on, so as to share her experience of fund raising applications and contacts.

The Committee nominations for all posts will be announced in our April Newsletter, and we shall be happy to receive offers from other members of the Friends of Hilbre.

We have booked a speaker who has family connections with Hilbre in the past. The date, time and place are:

Wednesday 23rd May 2007 - 7.30pm
West Kirby Concourse

upstairs in the function room

All are welcome to attend

Seal Watching Refresher/Training Day, March 2007

Following seal watching training last year a Seal Watching Group was formed from participating members of the Friends of Hilbre. Dave Cavanagh, the Hilbre Ranger, will be running another enjoyable and informative refresher/training session for members in March this year. Those who attended the training day last year and members new to this group will be warmly welcomed. It’s fun learning about the seals and how to use our telescope!

Left: Grey Seals hauled-out on the West Hoyle Bank in the Dee Estuary by the late John Gittins.
Right: A young seal watcher with Dave, the Hilbre Ranger.
© Val Burnett

Every trained volunteer will be expected to commit to one or more Seal Watching Days later this year, working in pairs or more, usually on Telegraph Station Lookout Open Days. The training day will provide volunteers with an insight into the lives of the Atlantic Grey Seals in the Dee Estuary and the ability to share this knowledge with members of the public. You will learn to use our telescope and an information pack will be provided.

Wear sensible clothing and footwear, bring a snack. Drinks provided.  Binoculars are useful. A limited number of lifts to Hilbre will be available.

All participants must be over eighteen, and members of the Friends of Hilbre because of insurance.

To reserve your place on the refresher/training day {and lift if needed} please contact the Hilbre Ranger:

Dave Cavanagh on 0151 632 4455 (before 6pm, please). Please let Dave know if you should find you are unable to come. 

or e-mail Val on:


Always check the tides before going out to Hilbre. Tides change each day. Use the safe route, it is dangerous to use any other route. For full details of when to cross safely and the safest route to Hilbre see our Planning your visit to Hilbre Island page.

PLEASE NOTE: All articles and photographs in this web site are ©  COPYRIGHT of Friends of Hilbre unless specifically otherwise stated.

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