After a long time of “One day I’ll have to go there” I finally managed to visit the three tidal islands lying at the mouth of the Dee Estuary, the border between England and Wales at this point. Hilbre Island is the largest island of this group and lies about 2 miles offshore from West Kirby (Wirral), with Middle Eye and Little Eye being the smaller ones. All three islands are formed of red sandstone and can only be reached on foot via a certain route at low tide. Little Eye and Middle Eye are both unpopulated, but Hilbre Island has a few houses.
It is believed that Hilbre Island has been occupied on and off since the Stone Age. Its name probably derives from the dedication of a medieval chapel, which was built on the island, to St. Hildeburgh, an Anglo-Saxon holy woman living on the island in the 7th century as an anchorite.
The islands have quite an interesting history. Some think that there was already a hermitage or place of pilgrimage prior to the Norman invasion on Hilbre. The islands ‘changed hands’ quite a few times from a Welsh lord, to an abbey in Normandy who passed it on to an abbey in Chester. After finally being disregarded as a sanctuary it even had a small factory to refine rock salt and a beer house or inn. Hilbre Island Lighthouse was established in 1927 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Authority to whom the islands belonged at the time. Finally the islands were sold to Hoylake Council, passing it to Wirral Borough Council on its formation.
The walk to the islands is very popular with locals and tourists especially throughout the summer months. To keep a bit of privacy for the houses you can only access certain parts of the island.
I will try to go back during the winter months with hopefully less people there as it does get quite busy.