The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter
Issue 45 - Online version
February 2014

main menu

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

Inside this issue:
Chairman's Report.
£100,000 Grant.
Trial of Low Tide Tasks at Weekends
Friends Memories.
Fridge found on Middle Eye.
Seal Watching 2014.
Stranded Vehicles
Storm Damage on Hilbre.
Overview of Hilbre Island [part 2].
Appeal for memorabilia
Volunteering with the Friends of Hilbre in 2014.
Safety Notice.
Archived Newsletters


 Buoy Master's buildings


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'.

Chairman's Report

This is the first Newsletter of 2014 and I would like to wish all our members A Healthy and Happy New Year!
For this year’s AGM in May, we have managed to book a very fine local speaker who will give an illustrated talk on the Dee Estuary. We will let you know more details about the AGM in April’s Newsletter.
The Committee is hopeful of seeing more FoH members in attendance at the AGM. In the past, there has often been an excess of cakes and scones (all home made by members) - two very good reasons to attend! In addition, you can meet other FoH members, catch up on the work of the FoH and meet the Committee face to face.
We would really like to see more of you on our tasks this year. Those who did attend last year enjoyed themselves – a day on the Island surrounded by the waters of the Dee can be surprisingly relaxing. Of course, no-one is expected to do anything ‘over taxing’; each person works to his or her capacity. This year we intend to achieve one or two main projects, alongside our usual range of tasks. These projects may include the upkeep of the Telegraph Station, bracken   pulling and pointing the sea defence walls. See the next issue for more details.
Seal Watch and Open days are not physically demanding but, of course you have to be fit enough to walk out to the Island. On the other hand, the Mobile Information Unit (MIU) is always situated on the mainland, usually West Kirby. It is always nice to meet people who share your interests and the MIU is a good place to do so.
Please come and join us - details of all the events, and contacts, are included in the Task List Leaflet included in this issue.                        

Allen Burton, Chairman of the Friends of Hilbre  

 Back to 'Inside this issue'.

You may well have read recently in the local free press about the £100,000 set aside by Wirral Council for repairs to the buildings on Hilbre. The Friends of Hilbre were delighted by this good news. In recent years we have become accustomed to austerity measures leading to cuts in local government spending, so it was an unexpected but welcome announcement.

There have been several improvements made on the Island in recent months. Less than a year ago a section of boundary wall on a cliff top fell down. This was promptly repaired and is now better than ever. More recently, two chimney stacks had to be re-pointed. Internal improvements have been carried out as well. A wood burning stove has been installed in the Buoy Master's Cottage and the gable walls of the 2 storey building have been re-pointed. At the time of writing, work has already begun on the new roof of the single storey building. Further extensive improvements are to follow.

Since it was set up in May, 2001 the Friends of Hilbre has always supported Council initiatives on the islands and volunteers have worked under guidance from the Coastal Rangers. The situation of the Islands in the mouth of the Dee Estuary is very exposed as the tides and weather constantly wear away at the natural fabric of the Islands themselves as well as the man-made structures. As a result, maintenance is a constant challenge so on behalf of the Friends of Hilbre and the thousands of visitors that visit the reserve each year and who will ultimately benefit from the improvements I would like to say Well Done Wirral Council. Allen Burton.
Allen Burton

Trial of Low Tide Tasks at Weekends

Although the mid-weeks tasks have generally been held over a low tide, our weekend tasks have always been held over a high tide. Whilst many people love staying out over the high tide, it does necessitate volunteers giving up a longer period of time, because the Islands are cut off from the mainland for approximately 6 hours. 
We recognise that some of our members would love to volunteer, but may be unable to give up the best part of a day. Therefore this year, we have decided to hold two of the weekend tasks over a low tide — hopefully this will make it easier for people to volunteer for the Island tasks, as they can arrive and leave at any time during the times indicated in the task list.  

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Friends Memories 

We really enjoyed hearing from Mr Ross about his memories of Hilbre and, in the last newsletter, I mentioned that we would love to hear from more of you. It doesn’t matter how long, or short your submissions are, they may be a short paragraph or two, or a full page or more.
To get you started, I said that I would include a brief example of one of my favourite memories in this newsletter — see below.


Fridge Found on Middle Eye!

When Vicky was the Ranger and we were, working on Hilbre, we once had to remove a medium sized fridge from a cave from the Welsh side of Middle –Eye! I can’t imagine how it got washed up there—it took 4 of us to manhandle it down the rocks - it just shows the power of the sea. The fridge was intact and even had its internal shelves in place! 


Seal Watching 2014:

The new season of seal watching is fast approaching.  Thank you so much to all of you who made it over to Hilbre last year to bring out the telescope and entertain the many visitors who came over to the island.  Your efforts were very much appreciated by me and the people, both adults and children, who were able to view the seals out on the sandbank.
The Open Days on Hilbre are a very important part of our tasks as Friends of Hilbre and the seal watching is always popular with visitors.  Some are amazed to find that there are so many seals over there and others have never walked over to Hilbre before and are grateful for any information that we can pass on.
If you are a member of FOH, are over 18 years of age and you feel enthusiastic enough to help with this task then please get in touch with me,  June.  The aim is to enable members to pass on to visitors to the Island information about the seals; it does not need expert knowledge.  Some training will be required which usually takes place on the first Open Day of the season.  You will see the dates of the Open Days in this newsletter.  The Friends would expect that you would then be able to commit to one or two other days throughout the season.
I do hope that all my present seal watchers will wish to continue this year, I am so grateful for your commitment.  It would help me enormously if you could contact me letting me know, in advance, the dates on which you are available. 
I am looking forward to an enjoyable and successful season.                   

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Stranded Vehicles

One Friday morning in early October, 2013, two vehicles got stuck in the mud in the Dee Estuary. They were authorised to be there, being contractors working on Hilbre. It seems that, because of the tides that day, they had to make a very early start in the gloom of pre-dawn. Both drivers were familiar with the trip but the poor visibility led them away from the prescribed safe route.

They passed to the east of Middle Eye, instead of the west and ended up stuck axle deep in the heavy mud. The men got out safely, but attempts to rescue the vehicles were at first unsuccessful. The trucks were submerged 5-6 times by the tides before they were finally salvaged on the Monday.
Fortunately there was no oil leak and no serious pollution occurred, but the incident should serve as a salutary lesson to the unwary and the reckless! If you don’t take the right precautions, you could expose yourself to great danger.                                     

Allen Burton

Storm Damage on Hilbre

Following the strong storms we have recently experienced, Allen Burton walked out Hilbre to see how it looked after the battering it has taken.   
“There was a lot of broken bits of stone lying around and the steps down to the west had disappeared (see picture).   The midden near the top of these steps looked unscathed”.
“The temporary ‘door’ on the tide gauge room was damaged; there was some serious looking damage to the structure of the old lifeboat station and a general sort of messiness about”.  
When we hold our first few tasks on Hilbre this year, we will be looking at the residual damage and, guided by the Ranger Service, we will hope to identify how the FoH can   contribute to repairing some of the storm damage. If you would like to help us with this, please contact Allen Burton, to confirm your attendance at our Hilbre Tasks (see available dates in the Task List).


Overview of Hilbre Island:

(part 2) extract from article in The Lake magazine.

The Islands are steeped in history, even pre-history. Fossilised footprints have been found which were made about 230 million years ago by a dinosaur, a Chirotherium; these were passed on to the Liverpool World Museum. Rubbish and ashes from cooking fires dating back ten thousand years, have come to light. Stone tools have been discovered, for example an axe head from five thousand years ago. Iron Age, Roman Era, 10th and 11th century finds lead right up to more modern maritime and military activities on and around Hilbre. The links with the Lifeboats, The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, the Telegraph Station and World War II are all well documented and offer a detailed glimpse into our history.
The Ecologist, the Ornithologist, the Geologist, the Palaeontologist, the Archaeologist, the Botanist, the Marine Biologist and the Historian will all find something on Hilbre which will satisfy their special interests. However, what's in it for you and me? Most people enjoy a visit to Hilbre. Many speak about the beauty of the estuary or the Islands. The seals provide interest and surprises for many. The buildings are a constant source of curiosity. The birds, the flowers, even the very rocks fascinate. For many the greatest attraction is this: when you are on a rock of 4.7 hectares (11.5 acres) and there is a mile of deep blue water between you and the mainland, between you and all the daily chores which await and nothing particular to distract you for six whole hours, a feeling of relaxation invades you. Nothing to do but enjoy your surroundings. So simple.                          

Allen Burton
Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Appeal for World War 1 and World War 2
memorabilia relevant to Hilbre

If you have an article, diary, newspaper item, painting, artefact, poem, song, and so forth appertaining to the Hilbre Islands during the war years we would be interested in hearing from you. 
Please e-mail Val Burnett at

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with the Friends of Hilbre you need to be a member of the Friends of Hilbre and over 18 years old
[For insurance purposes].
Please contact us at our e-mail address for further information:
or phone our Chairman, Allen Burton 0151 648 7115

Seal Watch co-ordinator June         Open Day co-ordinator Allen


Saturday         8th

09.30 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.


Sunday           27th

  1.15 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.


Saturday        10th

11.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.


Sunday             8th

10.30 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.


Saturday         19th

09.00 a.m. - 2.00 p.m.


Sunday            17th

09.00 a.m. - 1.30 p.m.


Saturday          6th

12.00 noon – 5.00 p.m.


Sunday             5th

12.00 noon – 4.30 p.m.

[10.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. at Dee Lane slipway, West Kirby]

Co-ordinators: Val and Barbara


Saturday        8th


Sunday          6th


Sunday          11th


Sunday          8th


Saturday       19th


Sunday          17th


Sunday           7th


Sunday           5th

Other dates when help may be required.  

Wirral History & Heritage Fair                  Saturday  1st March 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.

Ashton Park Fair                                        Monday  5th May 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.

St. Bridget's Church Fair, West Kirby       Saturday  28th June 1.45 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.

RNLI Day                                                   Monday  25th August 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.

Earth Festival, St. Bridget's Church         Saturday  13th Sept. 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.

West Kirby


Contact Allen Burton 0151 648 7115 if you wish to join us.
The Meeting Point for every task is at the Slip Way at Dee Lane
by the Marine Lake, West Kirby.


Saturday 22nd

Leave 10.00 a.m. Return 4.00 p.m.

April      LOW TIDE

Saturday 26th

Leave 10.00 a.m. Return anytime before 6.00 p.m.


Sunday 18th

Leave 10.00 a.m. Return 4.00 p.m.


Saturday 21st

Leave 9.00 a.m.  Return 3.00 pm.


Sunday 13th

Leave 9.00 a.m.  Return 3.30.p.m.

August    LOW TIDE

Saturday 9th

Leave 1.30 p.m.  Return anytime before 7.00 p.m.


Saturday 27th

Leave 9.30 a.m. Return 4.00 p.m.


Saturday 11th

Leave 9.30 a.m. Return 4.00 p.m.

*Please note that Friday and Saturday June 20th/21st is a two day task.  Overnight accommodation is
available for a limited number only.  This will have to be on a first come-first served basis for those
volunteers who attend both days.

Contact Allen Burton 0151 648 7115 if you wish to join us.


Friday 10th

Leave 10.15 a.m.   Return 2.30 p.m.


Wednesday 26th

Leave 10.30 a.m.   Return 2.30 p.m.


Wednesday 12th

Leave 10.30 a.m..  Return 2.30 p.m.


Wednesday 9th

Leave 10.15 a.m.    Return 2.30p.m.


Wednesday 7th

Leave 10.15 a.m.    Return 2.30 p.m.


Friday 20th

Leave 10.15 a.m.    Return 2.30 p.m.


Wednesday 9th

Leave 10.30 a.m.    Return 3.00 p.m.


Wednesday 6th

Leave 10.15 a.m.     Return 2.30 p.m.


Wednesday 3rd

Leave 10.15 a.m.     Return 2.30 p.m.


Wednesday 15th

Leave 10.15 a.m.     Return 2.30 p.m.





Wednesday  17th

Leave 10.15 a.m.     Return 2.30 p.m.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

The Friends of Hilbre
We welcome new members to our group.
If you would like to join us please email the Membership Secretary for an Application Form 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.


This newsletter is available by e-mail only.
To receive an electronic copy by e-mail (Adobe Reader required) please contact:

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.