Desperately seeking the sea

Marine Lake, West Kirby, WirralThe Marine Lake, West Kirby, Wirral

I had all sorts of plans for yesterday, all of them involving sitting at my computer writing, but it was a glorious day out there and I couldn’t resist it.  The weather forecast said we’d be back to rain from today, so I reckoned there’d be plenty of opportunity to get some work done while that was happening.  I really could feel spring in the air yesterday, despite the continuing chilliness, and it lifted my heart.

I’ve had a yearning to spend some time by the sea lately. I’ve never lived anywhere that’s so close to the sea while at the same time having gone so long without actually seeing it.  It’s out there somewhere, but this is a coastline of very flat beaches and shallow water and estuaries, and when the tide’s out it’s really out – you can’t even see where the water is.  I was going to go out for the day whatever, so I didn’t bother checking the tide tables before I went, and of course all I saw when I got to West Kirby was miles of empty sand.

When we first moved here I wondered why they’d built a marine lake at West Kirby – it’s basically a very large, fenced-off piece of sea with a path round it. It seemed perverse to me to make an enclosure for the sea when you could be out in the whole airy expanse of it.  I assumed it must be for safety reasons and that perhaps there were dangerous currents and tides.   Now I totally understand – it’s the only way there is of keeping some water at hand so that people can windsurf or sail, because for most hours of the day that would be impossible otherwise.

The Marine Lake does make for some interesting photo opportunities – it can look almost as if people are walking on water from a distance, as in the picture at the beginning of this post.  It works best when there’s only one or two and it was a busy day for promenaders, and I’ve got some closer shots that show just how many people were having a stroll round it.  Doesn’t look nearly so mysterious from this angle, does it? – who says the camera never lies!

Marine Lake, West Kirby, Wirral

Marine Lake, West Kirby, Wirral

The upside of the tide being out is that I was able – for the first time – to walk out to one of the Hilbre Islands. At low tide these three small islands become accessible to walkers.  I’ve thought about doing this before, but you’re supposed to check when high water is, and then set out at least three hours after it and come back at least three hours before it, with extra time for higher tides and some weather conditons.  All very sensible, but it begins to feel as if it needs a lot of planning and of course that’s not what I did at all.  I couldn’t see the notice board with the tide information on it, although I found it when I got back, and I hadn’t intended to walk out there without knowing what was what, but there were plenty of other people walking to and fro and the sea was nowhere in sight.  I thought I’d just walk a little way.  And then I thought I’d just walk a little bit further.  And then I thought I might as well just go for it, so I did, while keeping a slightly nervous eye out to make sure I wasn’t the only person still left out there.  This is probably how people end up needing to be rescued.

Hilbre Islands, West Kirby, WirralLittle Eye Island, Hilbre Islands, seen faintly in the distance

Walking to Hilbre, West Kirby, WirralWalking towards Little Eye, Hilbre Islands, West Kirby, Wirral

It felt wonderful being out in this huge expanse of sand and sky with the sun – albeit winter-weak – shining dazzlingly over it all.

Beach, West Kirby, Wirral

The smallest of the islands is very small indeed – not much more than a large rock – and there wasn’t a lot to see.  There were quite a few rockpools but not the kind that have much in the way of marine life in them.  I liked the way the sun was shining through the water onto these shells, though.  (And incidentally, the Lensbaby worked surprisingly well here.  I didn’t think it would, but it’s really helped concentrate attention on the central shells.)

Shells

I also liked these sand ripples.

Sand ripples

This is the view looking back from the island towards West Kirby.

View of West Kirby from Little Eye, Hilbre Islands

And finally, on the way back I saw this rather unusual reflection.  It’s actually the houses on the shoreline, but they were still some way off and I still don’t understand why they were reflecting in a puddle this far out.

Reflection, West Kirby