Wirral Walks - Caldy Hill in Spring

Caldy Hill (260ft high) sits on the west coast of Britain, on the Wirral peninsula, between the villages of West Kirby and Caldy.

The following photographs were all taken on 17th March, 2010, during a walk around Stapledon Woods on Caldy Hill. Spring was only just beginning to re-awaken in the woods, which are home to a wide variety of wildlife, deciduous and evergreen trees, gorse and heather. This woodland was given to the people of West Kirby by science-fiction writer, William Olaf Stapledon, who lived in Caldy.

The whole area covers 250 acres, 13 of these being owned by the National Trust, and includes Newton Common and Stapledon Woods.

Winding Paths of Stapledon Woods

Walking around Caldy Hill can be tricky, and stout footwear is advisable. If you wander off the main tracks, be aware that there are hidden drops and fissures in the hillside, and also the undergrowth is dense and thorny. Stick to the paths, and visitors should be fine.

Winding paths go off in all directions. These vary from the hard, red sandstone paths which are often laced with thick tree roots, to soft and springy - sometimes marshy - soil tracks through the lower levels of the hillside.

There a numerous benches set at strategic points so visitors can enjoy panoramic views over the mouth of the River Dee, looking across to the Flintshire hills in Wales or out past the three little islands of Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre to the mouth of the River Mersey and the Irish Sea.

The Dee Estuary attracts thousands of migrating seabirds in spring and autumn, but the woods on Caldy Hill are home all year round to many birds and other wildlife.

Woodland paths snake over autumn leaves and rock.
Woodland paths snake over autumn leaves and rock.
Tree root thread round rock along steep and rugged paths.
Tree root thread round rock along steep and rugged paths.
WIrral greetings cards & a huge range of gifts at Spooky Cute Designs.
WIrral greetings cards & a huge range of gifts at Spooky Cute Designs.
A verdant gown of ivy.
A verdant gown of ivy.
Ruins Metropolis
Ruins Metropolis

A trip to her local New Age store brings Tracy into conflict with the notorious Caldy Hill fae. This story features in Ruins Metropolis, an anthology published by Hadley Rille Books in June 2008.

 

Faerie Folks in Old Oaks!

Caldy Hill boasts numerous species of tree, not least the mighty English oak.

Greeks, Romans, Celts, Slavs and Teutonic tribes venerated the oak tree above all others, being sacred to Zeus, Jupiter, Dagda, Perun and Thor.  Ancient Druids practised their rites in groves of oak trees (and some modern ones still do!)  Some people believe that carrying a piece of oak in your pocket will bring good luck.

One of the most enduring of beliefs is that the oak tree can be a magical gateway into other dimensions, such as Tir-na-nOg or the realm of the Lords and Ladies, or faerie folk.  If an oak tree grew beside a dark woodland pond then the likelihood of this being true was believed to increase.  And on Caldy Hill you will find a dark, very still pond (in wetter months, anyway - it tends to dry out in the height of summer) surrounded by a natural grove of oaks.

Could Caldy Hill be home to faerie folk?  Well, the realms of possibility are said to be endless...

 

Wildlife on Caldy Hill

Tangled undergrowth is home to birds, lizards, mice and toads.
Tangled undergrowth is home to birds, lizards, mice and toads.

Many birds make their home on Caldy Hill.  Jays, robins, wrens, thrush, mistlethrush, blackbirds, kestrals, bullfinch, goldfinch, bluetits, cuckoo, woodpecker and more.

Tree species include oak, ash, holly, birch, sycamore, elm and chestnut.

Foxes, lizards, adders and grass snakes, frogs, common and natterjack toads also live here. 

Queen bee emerging from her winter hibernation.
Queen bee emerging from her winter hibernation.
An old stone gatepost stands beside a woodland path.
An old stone gatepost stands beside a woodland path.
Gorse blooms yellow beside the red sandstone trail.
Gorse blooms yellow beside the red sandstone trail.
Waiting for spring to re-green the trees.
Waiting for spring to re-green the trees.
Narrow rocky trail leading to the summit of Caldy Hill.
Narrow rocky trail leading to the summit of Caldy Hill.

The Summit of Caldy Hill

The stone plinth displays a bronze map of Wirral.
The stone plinth displays a bronze map of Wirral.
View from Caldy Hill - overlooking West Kirby and the Dee Estuary where Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre Island are cut off from the Wirral mainland by swift tides.
View from Caldy Hill - overlooking West Kirby and the Dee Estuary where Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre Island are cut off from the Wirral mainland by swift tides.
Heather grows freely on Caldy Hill's summit, giving a home to lizards and snakes.
Heather grows freely on Caldy Hill's summit, giving a home to lizards and snakes.
A young oak clings to last year's leaves.
A young oak clings to last year's leaves.
Lichens cling to a stately silver birch.
Lichens cling to a stately silver birch.
A marriage of root and rock.
A marriage of root and rock.

© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray

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Comments 4 comments

Michael Shane profile image

Michael Shane 6 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

I felt like I was there for a momment! Lovely hub!


AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England. Author

Thank you, Michael; I'm glad you enjoyed the photos.


Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 6 years ago from Michigan

Great article very informative.


AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England. Author

Glad you enjoyed it; thanks for dropping by.

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