Last night I lobbed my trainers over the back fence because they definitely couldn’t come in the house with that much sand and sea water on them. I shouldn’t treat them so flippantly after they helped me have a simply amazing evening but they’re filthy and I was surprisingly exhausted. It was only two miles out and back for the easy run, and with some of the runners’ children coming along too, the pace was very easy. But running on wet sand nearly all the way does give your legs an extra work out.
This was Pensby Runners’ (now resumed) annual trip to the seaside.
The Hilbre Islands, off West Kirby in Wirral, are a mini archipelago in the Dee Estuary. There are three islands that you can walk (or run) to when the tide is out: the first tiny ‘Little Eye’ stands alone, just over half a mile from the shore; the ‘Middle Eye’ is out further to the right; and alongside this is the final main Hilbre Island. I think they missed a trick by not calling it the ‘Third Eye’ but never mind. There used to be a Life Guard station on there but all three islands are now a protected nature reserve.
The evening began a bit breezy, as we all assembled on the West Kirby prom. Nigel was taking the register of who was going out, just to try and make sure no-one was going to be left stranded out there. The sun was shining again though, on my second coastal excursion of the week, and as Ian blew his PE teacher whistle, sending off the runners doing a longer route, the remainder got ready for our run with the giddy excitement of school children.
I had taken a small flannel in my belt to wipe my feet dry after the dip in the sea off the final island. Jo had laughed at me when I said that, and now I knew why. It wasn’t just compact wet sand we were going on, but also the many, many puddles of seawater that still remained. After the first shoddy attempts to jump over or go around them, I resigned myself to having soggy feet and ploughed through.
The islands are beautiful, with an other-worldly feel where the water has rubbed away at the rocks. Even if you’re not a runner, they are a lovely place to walk and explore. There were a few walkers about yesterday evening, looking a bit bemused by the sight of so many people splashing past in trainers. Alongside our club, there were at least two other groups of runners that I spotted. Despite the popularity of the evening though, it never felt crowded. Our lot regrouped at the far end of the main island, for photos and the piece de resistance of the evening.
I’m not a very confident swimmer so I wasn’t sure about getting in the sea, but as nearly everyone else was peeling off their shoes, or just going in with their trainers on, I did too. It was gorgeous, not even cold, and there was a nice wide sandy shelf beneath my feet so I could just bob up and down in the waves. I felt like one of the local seals that are frequently spotted (just not this evening). Except I was just a bit flappier and less graceful. It was brilliant though, I loved it.
My little flannel did come in use in the end, as it was marginally easier to pull a wet sock over a dry foot than a wet foot (I did perform an empirical experiment). And then we all set off at a trot back to the mainland. One of our member’s husband runs the Marigolds Fish and Chip shop, which is famous in West Kirby, and possibly all of Wirral. And nearly all of us had put in our orders earlier. We sat in a local park chomping on the food hungrily, as by this time I was famished, and we enjoyed the last of the rays of the evening sun.
It was the end of a perfect evening. Just need to clean those shoes now.