It has been a very cold week, with freezing conditions around the clock. Today, warm air is said to be coming northwards, driving sleet and rain before it. It had started to hail as I set out this morning. We had tentatively planned to go to Hoylake and walk around the north-west corner of Wirral at Red Rocks, ending up at West Kirby, but that seemed foolhardy in those conditions. We decided to go to Gilroy Pool instead, so set off from Hoylake up New Hall Lane. To our surprise, there is an new attraction along there, Whitegate Animal Sanctuary.
There were no animals to be seen, just empty huts and kennels. They seem to specialise in ex-farm animals, and there are posters strung along the fences, giving the names and histories of some of their charges. Pumba and Portia the pigs are ex-pets that grew too large, Bob and Ben the sheep were the surplus third lambs of triplets, while Bobby the goat was an unwanted male kid from a dairy farm. They must all have been taken inside in this severe weather, and the only thing to see in the empty paddock was this group of Toadstools.
As we walked along, the path got icier, and we finally gave up when the slippery surface left no bare patches to pick a way through.
There is also a path alongside Hoylake station car park which runs past the golf course to West Kirby, but that looked treacherous too, so we took the next train to West Kirby, arriving just after 12. In the station yard, three miserable pigeons huddled against the wall. Not quite Three French Hens or even Two Turtle Doves.
After a pit stop in Morrisons we found it had it started to rain. We were looking for a lunch spot, but there is no shelter in Sandlea Park so we walked along to Victoria Gardens which has little wooden gazebos. Quite a few birds had decided it was a good place, too. There was a Blackbird in and out of the shrubbery, two Redwings on the lawn, two Pied Wagtails on the path, a Crow, and was that a Wren diving for cover? On the way there we had spotted what looked like some people heading out to Hilbre. Hardier than us!
All along the South Parade there were Mermaid’s Purses in the road. There must have been a recent very high tide to have washed them up onto the road. The short-stay car park has a sign saying “Parking at your own risk, liable to tidal flooding”. The new flood defences are definitely needed. The Marine Lake was showing white caps on the waves, but there was still one brave soul windsurfing. There was a single Redshank and about a dozen Black-headed Gulls on the pontoons near the watersports centre. One Gull had its black head coming in, which I claim as my first sign of spring.
No more Sunday walks until 22nd January, and here’s Merseyrail’s spectacular Christmas greeting sign.
Public transport details: West Kirby train from Central 10.35, arriving Hoylake 11.03. Returned from West Kirby at 2.31, arriving Liverpool Central 3.10.