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Top tips for visiting Hilbre Island

I’ve posted a few pictures from Hilbre Island during lockdown and had a few questions from people about the island. I thought, why not write a blog post to give you my top tips for visiting Hilbre Island safely.

What is the best route to take when walking to Hilbre Island?

The Local coastguard, Wirral council and the RNLI recommend anyone wanting to walk out to Hilbre should start at West Kirby and go via Little & Middle eye.

I usually start at the end of the Prom at Riversdale Road, though you can park in the car park behind Morrisons and walk straight out to Little eye. It’s easy to spot, just look for the small lump of rock straight out in front of you.

Once you reach Little eye turn right and follow the rocky bank to Middle Eye the 2nd of the islands. There is a path that goes over Middle-Eye and a track that goes round the Wirral side of the island. Once you get to the other side there is group of rocks to cross to Hilbre. Once on the main island take the main road/track on the left over the top and enjoy the view. No visit should miss out on Old Lifeboat Station at the far end. A sandstone shell that’s worth the walk all on its own.

Weather Station on Hilbre Island
Weather Station on Hilbre

What is the best time to walk out to Hilbre Island?

The best time depends on what you’d like to see and how fast you are at walking. To give yourself as much time as possible I’d advise walking out about 4 hours after High tide. This will let you see the island with some water around it but you’ll have plenty of time to walk out and get back again before the next high tide.

How far is it to walk to Hilbre Island?

The journey is approximately 2 miles from West Kirby. The route crosses the sandy beach then rock to the island. You’re best wearing walking boots or wellingtons though trainers will be fine as long as you don’t mind them getting wet. There is always water sitting on the sand at some point in your journey.

How long does it take to walk to Hilbre?

At a brisk pace it can take 30 minutes but most people will take about an hour to enjoy the route across the sands and longer if you’re group walks slower. So to walk out, have some time on the island and walk back you really need to set off from West Kirby at least 5 hours before high tide.

Can I walk from Hoylake to Hilbre Island?

Not without getting your feet wet and possibly getting stuck in the shifting sands. It’s always best to walk the recommended route from West Kirby to Little Eye, then Middle-Eye to Hilbre. The RNLI warn people not to walk from Hoylake to Hilbre so its best to go from West Kirby instead.

Hilbre Island from Hoylake at Sunset
Hilbre from the direction of Hoylake at Sunset

What are the Tide Times for Hilbre Island?

You can find the latest tide times for Hilbre Island here.

Can I stay on Hilbre Island when the tide comes is in?

In most cases Yes. It’s always best to check with the Lifeguards in the area to be sure as there though, there are occasions when the island is closed to the public.

You cannot camp on Hilbre Island or Middle-Eye. You are only allowed to stay on the island over a high tide during the day.

If you’re wanting to spend high tide on the island set off from West Kirby at least 3 hours before High Tide and expect to remain on the island for up to 6 hours.

How long before high tide does Hilbre get cut off from the mainland?

Remember it takes at least 30 minutes to walk out to Hilbre. There is a small but deep channel that cuts Hilbre off from Middle-eye, and therefore the mainland, about 2 hours either side of High tide.

When high tide is 4pm, Hilbre Island will be cut off at 2pm so you need to have set off from West Kirby by 1pm to give yourself enough time to reach the island.

If I get to Middle Eye but can’t cross to Hilbre as the tide has come in what should I do?

In this situation you’ve probably just missed the crossing. Unfortunately you’ll have to stay on Middle Eye until the tide retreats (about 4-5 hours).

Do not try and walk back to West Kirby; the tide will cut you off before you’re able to get back.

RNLI Lifeguards near Hilbre Island
Lifeguard looking after walkers heading to Hilbre

How will I know it’s safe to walk back from Hilbre Island to West Kirby?

Once you can cross from Hilbre Island to Middle-eye without getting your feet wet! The route back to West Kirby via Little-eye will be safe to take back at this point.

Do not try to walk straight to West Kirby as the channels will still be full of water. To be extra safe I stay on Hilbre Island until 3 hours after High Tide. Of course if someone from the mainland arrives in the opposite direction, you know it’s safe to walk back.

At Low tide can I walk on the sand round Hilbre and it’s islands?

The local advice is no. The route along the sandbank from Hilbre to Little eye is pretty safe but either side are channels of water and shifting/sinking sands. Always stick to the approved route and on the islands themselves.

I’ve seen signs about cliffs and dangerous edges, is it safe to walk around on Hilbre?

Hilbre Island (and middle Eye) are sandstone rocky outcrops in the middle of the Dee Estuary, as such they have over time eroded into the sea leaving crumbling cliffs on the far sides of the islands. As long as you keep away from these edges and stick to the paths you should be fine.

Are there toilets on the island?

Yes, though I can’t guarantee they will always be open!

You can find the toilet block on the main island. Follow the main path up and over the island to the round glass ended “lighthouse” building then turn right, The toilet block is the small building straight ahead.

Is there a cafe/shop on the island?

No, the nearest shops are in West Kirby so bring any food/drink you need with you. Please make sure you take any rubbish with you to the mainland when you return.

Is Hilbre Island still closed?

No, Hilbre Island is open again to visitors who want to walk out following COVID-19 restrictions. Please bear in mind that in these times it’s really important you stick to the advised route and check the tide times. No one wants to have to call out the Lifeboat because they didn’t know where they should be walking and when the tide comes in.

Can I purchase one of your photographs of Hilbre Island to remember our walk?

Yes of course, if you’d like to purchase one of my Hilbre Photographs please click here for details.

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