The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 40 - Online version
August 2012

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Friends of Hilbre
Plan Your Visit.
How to Join.
MIU Events.
Volunteers' Work.
Task Days.  

Inside this issue:
Memoirs of Hilbre - a member's story.
First Mid-week Task Report 2012.
Work of the Friends of Hilbre.
Letter from Dave.
Andy's Seat.
Membership renewal.
Safety Notice.
Archived Newsletters



For information on:
Weekend & Mid-week Task Days
Friends of Hilbre Open Days
Seal Watching Days
Mobile Information Unit Days
Membership Application Forms
Newsletter contributions
General Information

Chairman of the Friends of Hilbre

Allen Burton 0151 648 7115

Tides and Information
Wirral Country Park Ranger Service 0151 648 4371

Wirral Council Web Site:

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Memoirs of Hilbre - a Member's Story

One of our members of The Friends of Hilbre, Mr. H. L. Ross has written his memoirs.  A local man born in 1928, he has of course memories going back further than many of us.  Here are some extracts from his writings and we intend to include more in a future newsletter.
“I have now decided that it’s 1934.  In 1934 there occurred, as far as my family was concerned, a significant “first” and a significant “last”.  Both events were totally insignificant elsewhere.
July 1934, I believe, was the very first occasion I walked all the way from West Kirby to Hilbre and back, totally on my own two little legs!  The significant “last” was the final time my Dad did his annual swim from Hilbre to Point of Ayr.  He had been doing these swims since about 1895, originally as part of a small group of friends, but latterly “solus bolus” which I think he preferred. 
In the earlier days, I understood that they used to swim up the Swash, and then through what Dad always called the “Welshman’s Gutter" and then across to the lighthouse on the Point.  It did not pay, apparently, to get set too far up the Welsh coast as the banks became difficult with terrible mud and quicksand.   As the years rolled on, I can recall my Dad saying that his preferred route was across the Hilbre Swash to the West Hoyle, walk across that, then swim across the main channel. 
We visited the Islands time and time again, sometimes the three of us, more usually just Dad and myself.   We were there in every possible set of circumstances.  In summer, hardly room to stand and lots of stupid young girls frizzling in the sun, despite warnings!   On weekdays with the place almost to ourselves; in winter, especially in North West gales, which Dad loved, and the whole island seemingly covered in spray.
I cannot recall strangely enough, many seals pre-War.  Where they there then? Although we didn’t always follow a pattern, certain items seemed sacrosanct. Dad always read out loud the instructions and times conveyed on the notice board by the Marine Lake.”
To be continued ….

Editors note: it is not safe to swim and walk across from the Wirral / Hilbre to Wales due to dangerous currents, deep gullies and quicksand!

We would love to hear from you - please email your contributions to
the Newsletter Editor at

First Mid-week Task 2012

On Wednesday 2nd May myself, Pam and Sue met Matt Thomas our Ranger for the Day in the Marine Lake Car Park. The weather was clear, sunny and very warm and by the time we reached Hilbre the Island was alive with birds. As we drove along the Island, there were Wheatears and Willow Warblers everywhere.
The Volunteers who support the Hilbre Island Bird Observatory were in full swing and before we started our tasks we visited their cottage. It was a great privilege to be so close to the small birds as they were measured, weighed, ringed and recorded, knowing that they had flown all the way from Africa and were probably going on to Scandinavia.
Sue progressed with her plant survey and planted some cuttings in the raised beds outside the Buoy Masters House. Pam and I helped Matt fill the trailer with wood, old tools, general rubbish from inside the slate shed. Whilst we were having lunch we watched a pair of male Redstarts fighting and far out over the bay we spotted a lone Osprey heading north.
After lunch we collected rubbish bags from the Pig Sty and measured the length of wire needed to replace the cliff fence close to the spot where we seal watch. The trailer now close to over flowing, we set off for home and look forward to our next Mid Week Task Day.

“Why not join us on a Mid Week Task Day as you can leave the Island at any time you want as these are always held during Low Tide?” 

Ken Stackhouse  [Mid-week Task Co-ordinator]

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

 The Friends work to protect many aspects of the islands.


Examples of work

-    Routine maintenance of buildings including, repairing, painting and making weather proof.

-    Litter picking: making the islands a pleasant place to be, and a safer environment for birds and small animals such as field voles. 

-    Clearing invasive species in designated areas, e.g. bracken pulling on the Welsh side of ‘Heather Mount’ has resulted in a wonderful display of English Bluebells and a resurgence of the heather. Work like this helps to enrich the variety of habitats on Hilbre. However, members need to be mindful to pull bracken in designated areas only. The bracken provides a wonderful nesting habitat for birds, in the spring and early summer; birds also nest in bramble thickets. It is an offence to deliberately disturb nesting birds so care must be taken at all times.

-    Repairing fences and pointing between the bricks of the sea defences.

-    Informing the public about the islands so that they can appreciate the beauty of Hilbre and avoid causing damage to the islands, the fauna or flora.


Letter from Dave Cavanagh

Dear Friends of Hilbre.

It’s been a while since I left the island and I’ve finally got around to putting pen to paper. Firstly, thank you all so much for your very kind gift of a book token, it was unexpected but very gratefully received. It’s been quite a while since I left Hilbre in what felt like such a rush and was a very final end to a long chapter in my life. When I first took the job of the Hilbre Ranger I thought that I would stay for possibly three years. That came and went in a flash so I thought I’d stay a little longer. I almost left after seven years, but when Fi and I got together, life on the island changed for the better. Eventually I ended up staying just short of fourteen years. 

In that time I achieved many important things, one of the most rewarding of which was helping to set up the Friends of Hilbre. I have worked with many Friends groups during my long career as a Ranger, some were good and some not so good, and I can honestly say the Friends of Hilbre are top of the list (the good list that is). Even if some of our ideas clashed, we all knew that we were working towards the same goal and we would work out any differences of opinion in the end. It has been a pleasure to work with such an excellent Friends group for such a long time.

Life on the mainland is very different, no tides to race for a start, and heating and water whenever I want. I’ve taken a massive change of direction in career, and it’s working out very well. The best change is the time I can now spend with my family which has just increased by one with the birth of our second son, Angus, at the start of July.

So thank you again for all your help over the years and I’m sure I’ll see some of you over on those wonderful islands that brought us all together in the first place.

Dave Cavanagh, Ex-Ranger of Hilbre Islands LNR

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Andy's Seat

We are proud to announce the completion of Andy’s Seat!

Volunteers, led by Andy Williams, have worked hard over the last couple of years to repair the sea defences on the Welsh side of Hilbre and to incorporate a seat into the design.

The seat is in a lovely place to sit and contemplate life, the universe (and all that!), whilst having a lovely view over the River Dee estuary and to Wales and the sea beyond.

You can find Andy’s seat by descending the stairs on the Welsh side (opposite the Telegraph Station) but, instead of continuing right to  Shell Beach, take a left turn instead and walk across the lower cliffs until you find the seat. Enjoy!

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes!

Please note that it is necessary to be a member of the Friends of Hilbre and over 18 years of age to be a volunteer. Please contact if you have any queries.

Friends of Hilbre

You are invited to renew your membership for 2012/13
Subscriptions are due on the 1st May 2012
We warmly welcome new members to our group.
If you would like to join us please email the Membership Secretary for an Application Form at:

We would love to hear from you - please email your contributions to
the Newsletter Editor at

Please note that members of the public can visit Hilbre Islands’ Local Nature Reserve throughout the year. The Friends of Hilbre do not guide visitors across the shore to the islands. 

Please contact the Coastal Rangers at the Thurstaston Visitor Centre, Wirral Country Park.
Tel. 0151 648 4371 (10am to 4pm, seven days a week).



The Dee Estuary is one of the UK’s premier birding locations for wetland and shorebirds. The Dee Estuary Birding web site describes the best Dee Estuary birdwatching areas with detailed maps and latest bird news for dedicated twitchers and casual birdwatchers alike.


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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 page:
Planning your visit to Hilbre Island

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