This was a walk taken from Jen Darling's 'More Pub Walks in Cheshire and Wirral'. Five of us - me, Cary, Jeanette, Paul and Laura assembled in Hale for a ride in P&J's Espace, to Royden Park (SJ 246 858) at Frankby near Hoylake.
It was a lovely, cloudless day. Soon after our 10am departure following an hour's drive, we passed a very active riding school where there were signposts to the 'Nose Bag Cafe'. Unable to resist the temptation, we sought out the refreshments from the café, which turned out to be the Larton Café.
(NB - for a slideshow, just click on an image and then scroll through the pictures.)
Various paths, mainly beside fields of crops such as broad beans, took us all the way to Hoylake.
En route, we passed China Plate Farm.
The coat of arms, the date of 1753, and the initials TIE appear on a plaque on the farmhouse, the plaque appearing to comprise a china plate.
Further on, after crossing several stiles, we discovered that not all of them were in current use.
Next to Kings Gap, in Hoylake, the Green Lodge Hotel could be worth a visit on a day when the weather was not so clement.
Kings Gap, to the right of the hotel, was apparently the route taken by the Royal escort for the purpose of boarding ships when Hoylake was a port from which armies sailed to Ireland.
In bygone days, when a giant sandbank created a deep water anchorage for sea going vessels, Hoylake was used by armies, such as the army of 10,000 men who in 1690 sailed to win the Battle of the Boyne under the command of William III - an event often blamed for the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland.
Our route turned left, passing impressive houses on the right, including this old lighthouse that has been incorporated into a private residence, and the prestigious Royal Liverpool Golf Course on the left, before reaching the beach.
The sands here are extensive. We went over to Hilbre Point for a look at Red Rocks, which appear below as a black smudge in the middle distance.
Here are the rest of the team on Hilbre Point.
Hilbre Island looked a long way off, but it was just 2 km across the firm sands left by the receding tide.
The sand was beautifully textured in places.
The next picture was taken as we were getting close to the island.
There were some puddles to negotiate. Cary paddled, the rest of us jumped.
Once on the island it's a short walk past fading Thrift and vibrant Bird's-foot Trefoil (amongst numerous wild flowers) to a sheltered picnic spot at the far end of the island in view of the inquisitive seal population. There were slightly hazy views to the skyscrapers of Liverpool in one direction, and the mountains of North Wales in the other direction.
The remains of a building and a boat ramp indicate that this may once, a long time ago, have been a lifeboat station.
We strolled back past the red rocks of Hilbre Island.
Hilbre Island does in fact incorporate a series of islands. We took a direct line to West Kirby, via the next island, imaginatively named 'Little Hilbre Island' - in view across a sandy causeway.
The walk along South Parade in West Kirby could have been varied by walking around the Marine Lake, but we were glad to be out of the stiff breeze, and most of us appreciated an ice cream.
We continued along the coast by way of a lovely woodland path, The Wirral Way, that follows the course of a disused railway. Calm, warm, green and very lush in here.
Eventually we turned away from the coast to return to our starting point via the pretty village of Caldy, reached via a lovely sandstone track bordered by a high wall.
There's a war memorial next to the church, and an impressive old house the other side of the church.
The remainder of the route took us along pleasant bridleways through mixed woodland and past impressive 'footballers' mansions'. My companions for the day kindly posed for me in the sun dappled light of Stapledon Wood, from where easy paths led back to Royden Park via a short break to finish our provisions and for Jeanette to receive a back massage.
Here's our route (click on the map for a bigger version). It was a shade over 20 km, with 150 metres ascent, taking us well under six hours, including breaks.
A lovely day out. Thanks for your company, folks. There will be a short walk around Styal next Friday, but I won't be organising one the following Friday.