Hilbre Islands, Wirral: Visitors hoping to glimpse grey seals will find only a few stragglers. The rest are off to their breeding grounds
The Hilbre Islands may be small but they demand attention. The diminutive archipelago encompassing Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre (pronounced locally like a mound of soft French cheese) sits a mile or so from the shore of West Kirby and Red Rocks. But anyone wishing to visit must pay attention to the tide and the route. The islands are accessible when the tide is out, but you must take care to avoid the treacherous mud and follow the trail to stop at each island in turn.
Plenty of visitors are ahead of me on the walk today, the rippled sienna sands are covered in myriad boot marks and pawprints. I get a face full of drizzle on the way out – Talacre across the Dee estuary is obscured by cloud. Fortunately, it’s easing off by the time I reach Middle Eye and, curled in close to the layers of red Bunter sandstone, I get my binoculars out for a glimpse of the grey seals.