At the mouth of the Dee Estuary, between the North Wales Coast and the Wirral, lies a fascinating island, or rather group of three islands, Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre, which can be reached on foot at low tide.
Separated from the mainland about 10,000 years ago, the islands, or Hilbre at least, was inhabited at various times. There was a monastic cell on the island for 400 years until dissolution in 1538, and in more recent times it was leased and then owned by the Trustees of the Port of Liverpool.
In 1945 the islands came under the ownership of Hoylake Council, and then the Wirral Borough Council. Hilbre is now maintained as a nature reserve. There are still two private houses on the island, but they are not permanently occupied.
Since I first visited over 25 years ago I have always wanted to stop on Hilbre at high tide, and yesterday I finally made it. I was alone, the weather forecast was reasonably good, the early afternoon high tide made it possible to go out in the morning and return in late afternoon, and it seemed a perfect place to clear my mind from current stresses in my life.
So carrying almost as much food as if I was setting out for Antarctica, with newspapers and a book in case of boredom, appropriate clothing in case of bad weather, there is nowhere on the island to shelter other than the toilets, I set off on the two mile walk across the Dee Estuary.
It was a most delightful experience. Peace, calm, the seals bobbing in the waves, only a short light shower, and not a trace of boredom, I was rather sad to leave. On the way back I thoroughly enjoyed the view of the birds on Middle Eye, which I unfortunately disturbed, and then of others feeding on the mud flats, who took precious little notice of me or even of walkers coming out from the shore accompanied by dogs.
It was a fantastic day, one that will remain in my memory for a long time. Before too long I hope to do it again.
I do rather like islands. In the past two years I have visited Madeira, Cabo Verde, St Helena of course, and a few islands in Oslo Fjord whose names I cannot instantly recall. Come to think of it I have hardly been anywhere else in that time. Obviously I am in a rut! Time perhaps to head once more for the continent, and I can think of two or three islands off the coasts of France that I would dearly like to explore.