Tuppence a bag…

There’s a terrific documentary on Vimeo made by an RSPB intern (view here). It includes some spectacular footage of birds at Hoylake, which is an internationally significant site for wildlife and habitat… protected by Natura 2000 designations including SSSI, pSPA and RAMSAR. Any disruptive, regular or organised activity on the beach must be licensed and approved by Natural England, and is subject to the Habitats Regulations.

Let’s just translate that into plain English.

When your kids stick a plastic spade into the sand, they are, technically, breaking the law (don’t worry, they won’t be hauled off to Belmarsh… we’re just trying to get your attention. But it’s true.)

And as for feeding the birds, Mary Poppins stylee, you’ll go straight to the Tower for the chop… this is not Trafalgar Square…

In any case, the birds certainly don’t need us.

But we need the birds, and this it is a serious point. The North Wirral foreshore, and Hoylake in particular, is very important indeed. And it’s getting more important by the day.

This is a good thing. It’s a very, very big selling point for Hoylake; which is so much more than just another ‘average’ amenity beach.

So it was really good to meet with regional representatives of RSPB yesterday and to hear them being so positive about the Beacon project.

With over 1.2 million members, their voice carries weight.

Hoylake is ‘the new Parkgate’ for twitchers, and it is showing. Some days, upwards of 200 birding folk descend on Hoylake from across the region to set up their scopes, notepads, cameras and stools, and, well, just watch, as flocks numbering as many as 20,000 weave their way across the landscape. Stunning stuff. Watch the video.

But, where do these twitchers go when they are cold and dog tired and hungry and need a pee? There’s no loos. No café. Short of an unlikely trek to The Parade, there’s nowhere to simply sit and chat and get warm.

And its not just the twitchers. It’s the sandyachters. The horseriders, the kiters and the ramblers. And, er, the visitors… in and out without so much as a hello. Not very hospitable, is it?

And we’re talking all year round… because Hoylake is never going to be a kiss me quick destination for wannabe lobsters with hankies on heads and a sneaky Fosters six pack under the deckchair, who mysteriously time travel from the 70s whenever there’s a front-pageworthy ‘scorcher’.

Imagine the boost to the local economy if we can make The Beacon happen; if we recognise and make the most of what we have – it’s jobs, money and opportunities for future generations we’re talking about.

Whatever The Beacon is, it will need to cater to these groups. Muddy boots welcome; along with telescopes on a balcony for the kids to practise being proper twitchers. And webcams broadcasting live sandyachting action from just above the wheels of the buggies.

It will introduce future generations to the true potential of a natural, ever changing beach in the most spectacular, memorable ways.

While, despite the bitter hoolie blowing up outside, the grown ups can wrap their lips round a proper cappucino and think, with a justified smugness, ‘This is why I love Hoylake’, before popping in to the cinema to see a special one-off sing-a-long screening of Mary Poppins on the big screen.

Oh go on…

Exciting stuff.

1 Comment

David Heron

January 24, 2015 at 8:04 am - Reply

Excited to read about the plans for Hoylake. I’d certainly support the development (speaking as a local resident). Totally agree with your assessment of the poor welcome visitors receive on the promenade at present. Don’t forget to mention the most regular visitors…….dog walkers. Your architect needs to consider that revenue stream too and design in a warm and sheltered area to enjoy a coffee with a dog under the table.

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