Postcards - July 2003

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Hilbre Island
I took a trip with a few friends to West Kirby on the Wirral from where we walked across the sands to visit Hilbre Island. There are actually three Islands - Hilbre, Little Hilbre (Also known as Middle Eye) and Little Eye - located in the Dee Estuary, and they are a nature reserve, an important stopping-off point for migratory birds as well as providing a roost site for waders which spend winter in the Dee Estuary. Grey seals swim around the island, and they seemed to be watching us on the island with interest but unfortunately they didn't come close enough for a photo!

Left: An aerial shot taken when I flew over last year. No chance to walk to the islands at this state of the tide!
Right: The Islands (Little Hilbre on the left and Hilbre on the right), taken about halfway from West Kirby.
Left: A view across the Dee to Point of Ayr, taken from Little Hilbre.
Middle: The gap between Little Hilbre and Hilbre is filled with slippery seaweed-covered rocks.
Right: This stone building is the remains of a lifeboat station.
Left: Other buildings on the island include two private residences - here's one.
Middle and right: There are many interesting rock formations in the Bunter sandstone which forms the islands.
Left: The Little Eye is a tiny desolate outcrop of rock. You can see Hilbre Island about a mile away in this picture.
Right: Time to head for the mainland - It's strange to think that three hours later this was all water (See the aerial photo above).
23rd July 2003

The Plant 150
An open weekend was held at the Wabtec Rail works at Doncaster to celebrate 150 years of the site, popularly known as "The Plant". Here are a few of the exhibits.

Left: The "Flying Badger" looks good in its GNER livery.
Right: Another electric, from a previous generation, is E5001.
Two diesel locos.
And here's two steam locos. They've obviously been very busy polishing Mallard!
There were other things to see besides locomotives. Here's an "artistic" view of the wheel shop, and an antique fire engine.
26th July 2003

The Bird in Hand
A railtour run by the Branch Line Society to a few unusual locations in North West England.
Here's our train during a break at Preston.
Left: The end of the line at Wapping Sidings, Liverpool. This route is used nowadays for reversing freight trains.
Right: The Network Rail limit on the Cowley Hill branch in St. Helens is marked by this gate, so that's as far as our train could go. We were reputedly the first passenger train along this line since the 1960s when services ran through to Rainford.
The tour also ran to Blackpool North, which still has plenty of semaphore signals.
27th July 2003

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