With a few hours to spare this afternoon I headed for Blackwall in London to pay a fleeting visit to London’s only (proper) lighthouse. The Thames is littered with various light structures to enable good navigation along the winding river, but there is only one true brick lighthouse along its banks (unless you go as far as Gravesend). So, of course, I had to see it. And here it is!
The area was originally used for training new lighthouse keepers and the current lighthouse/structure was built in 1863-4. The lighthouse has never been used for navigational purposes, but continued to be used for training purposes until 1988.
Lightships were also repaired alongside the dock here until 1988. Although this has now been moved to Harwich, I was pleased to see two light vessels there today (you can see pictures of these in my photo section).
The whole area is now mainly used for arts and cultural activities, which is lovely, but there is a strange sort of musical(?) exhibition taking place inside the lighthouse. I was able to climb the steps of the lighthouse to the lamp room, but was a bit put off by the weird and daunting sounds coming through speakers in the room!
So, I’m at that really exciting stage of my tour-planning where I’m going to stay, trawling through Google Maps and various other websites to develop some form of comprehensible list of reasonably-priced campsites and the occasional cheap B&B to fulfil my sleeping needs while I’m away. Fun times indeed!
As part of this mass research activity, I am happy to accept any recommendations you may have and wish to share. The only requirements I have is that they are based near the coast of mainland UK, accept tents (for campsites), and don’t cost the earth to stay for one night. I am also hoping to avoid chain-campsites (if that’s what they are called) where possible.
Additionally, please also let me know if you’ve had a disastrous experience at any coastal campsite or B&B so I know where not to go! If you wish to, then do share any interesting stories/experiences you may have from coastal trips or holidays!
Cape Wrath lighthouse sits nice and quietly by itself on the most north-westerly point of mainland UK. It contains the Ozone Cafe, which seats just 8 people and is separated from the nearest village by the Kyle of Durness and 11 miles of uninhabited land used by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force as a military bombardment range.
The journey to reach Cape Wrath involved two stages: firstly, taking a small boat (they call it a ferry, but a ferry seats more than eight people, surely!) from Durness Village across the Kyle of Durness, which takes around 15 minutes. On the other side a minibus is available for the 40 minute ride to the lighthouse across the miltary range.
If you have the the list of around 200 lighthouses on mainland UK you will understand why I am hesitant to take a large part of a whole day of my trip to visit just this single lighthouse. However, looking at some of the images of the landscape, the prospect of seeing some of Britain’s highest cliffs, Common Seals and a range of other wildlife, you can forgive me for being tempted.
So, I am asking for your thoughts. Should I head for Wrath or should I not? You decide!
If you’ve already visited the about the tour section then you will know just how strange I am. If not, then allow me to explain.
From Saturday 12th May to Sunday 10th June 2012, I will be driving my small (but extremely beautifully formed) car to the furthest points of mainland UK to visit what Wikipedia so eloquently describes as:
‘A tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways.’
In other words, I will be looking at lighthouses!
I’m not doing this for money and I certainly don’t want the fame that will inevitably come! I’m just a regular (and sometimes odd) girl with an idea for an exciting adventure. So, please do revisit this blog regularly (particularly in May and June to make sure I haven’t been swept off a cliff or something equally disastrous hasn’t befallen me, please!) and I hope you enjoy!