Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Long way up

It's a fair old climb down to the bird sanctuary and the West Lighthouse on Rathlin from the top.  They've done a great job in making it as accessible as possible - the first part is a sloped path but then you've got a few steps to negotiate:

The view from the bottom.  It took 5 years to build the lighthouse, from 1912-1917 at a cost of £400,000 - apparently that equates to something like £17million in today's money.  Transporting the materials to the location was no mean feat in itself - it's over 4 miles from the harbour.  All done using horse, cart and manual labour.

Beside the lamp is a small platform which we were able to get out onto.  Unfortunately the weather was starting to close in so visibility wasn't great.  On a good day you should be able to see the island of Inishtrahull just off Malin Head to the west and Islay to the North.

Looking west, towards the Antrim Coast, Giant's Causeway and Portrush

Inside the lighthouse was interesting - small enough, naturally, but surprisingly cosy.  The keepers used to stay for 2-3 years at a time.  Lighthouse relief day was once every two weeks, when supplies and ordered goods were delivered.  I think the last keeper left in 1983, by which time everything had been automated.

The sleeping quarters.  You'd need to be happy with your own company in this job, methinks.  A love of literature would also come in handy...
There's been a bit of a run on lighthouses lately - Mr Karlsvig over there in Norway has a few great snaps of ones around his neck of the woods and some wise words as well.  They're all a wee bit different, these houses with light.

...or a love of writing. 


  1. A very fine set of snaps, and a post I have totally missed for some odd reason. Seems like I need to go through your things done the last couple of months to make sure I have seen everything, mate.
    Ever so often I need to bring up the very convenient Google Maps and street view function of the thing, and this time we are talking Rathlin Island, and a very nice place it seems to be. Small, but nice enough. I have not covered the entire thing yet, but that will be done a bit later, as soon as my last film is out of it's last wash.
    I just got words that I will not be leaving for work until Friday morning, which should give me a chance to get a few more frames scanned before I head off to Lerwick, Shetland and then further out at sea from that point. We will most likely see where we end up this time, and you will know where to read all about it I guess...
    The West Lighthouse looks like a fortress from the wartimes by the look of things, but then again you would like these buildings to be strong enough to withstand anything thrown against them. And as you say, as most lighthouses it would be a place to really get the time to sort out your thoughts, and even get them onto a piece of paper if that was a call you got.

    1. Thanks Roy appreciate the comments.

      So Google Maps did Rathlin? I'm impressed. There's not much to map there in the way of roads and stuff. I must go take a look myself, just to satisfy my curiosity, you know.

      Given the pace of today's life there's bound to be a demand for lighthouse keeper positions, should there ever be a need again. They would be good places to get some head-space, should it be required. And yup, I know where to look for updates from the middle of the North Sea, inbetween fixing pistons and engines and feeding pigeons and what have you :)