Day 25: Hale to Hilbre Island

What can I say about today except it’s been weird and not entirely pleasing.

For some reason I left the B&B in an uneasy mood this morning without knowing why. Now I’m not trying to say I’m psychic or anything, but I may be able to predict when something bad is going to happen. I was on my way to the first stop at Hale, near Liverpool Airport, this morning on the M57 and suddenly the car starting shaking like crazy as I drove. I pulled over onto the hard shoulder and got out to check the tyres and saw that one of my rear tyres had completely burst. I then contacted my breakdown company and a guy (who struggled to find me as I originally gave the wrong junction number) came out and changed it. I had also managed to lose my hubcap somewhere along the way. It’s all fixed now though and we were able to carry on with our journey, just a little later than planned.

Hale is a little village that, in my opinion, is a bit too close to the airport. There aren’t planes flying dangerously low overhead or anything, but I can’t imagine the people of Hale were particularly happy about the airport’s creation. The lighthouse there (pictured) is at the end of a lane (Lighthouse Lane, in fact). It’s fairly standard lighthouse fare in my opinion.

My second stop was the Waterways Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port where the old lighthouse is still very much standing. It doesn’t look particularly “lighthousey”, but I bought a milkshake from the cafe there, which was nice. I saw it as a recovery treat following the trauma of the tyre incident.

The next six lighthouses I went in search of were all fairly close together in the Birkenhead/Wallasey area. The small and intriguing structure (I think it’s actually a replica) at Woodside ferry terminal in Birkenhead was rather nice and they had a few other items on display there so I grabbed a few shots of them too.

New Brighton is a lighthouse that can be approached at low tide and I had previously considered visiting in the past whilst I was in Liverpool for work (I decided against it then as more sleep was the preferable option). It had just started to rain when I arrived there so it wasn’t an amazing experience. The lighthouse, as I keep reporting from these parts, is looking rather weathered now.

I then bypassed two of the lighthouses (one in Wallasey and the other in Leasowe) partly by accident. The former lighthouse in Hoylake is now a private residence and the lamp has been removed from the top, so it’s essentially just a tall, round tower now. I managed to park outside and get a sneaky picture nonetheless.

It had really started to rain and I had concerns about arriving at the campsite in time when I got to West Kirby. From here, at low tide, you can walk out to Hilbre Island (which some crazy people were doing). I, however, stayed on the safe confines of the promenade.

I think, on my way back to the M53, I caught a glimpse of the old lighthouse at Leasowe. It was a big old tower in the beach area anyway, but I had decided by this point to head back inland for the evening. This also meant missing the lighthouse in Wallasey, but some sacrifices just need to be made. These smaller lighthouses along the edges of rivers etc. aren’t the most fascinating, so I am happy to skip them every now and then if it means making it to some of the bigger ones.

After losing some time due to the tyre incident this morning I wasn’t sure that I’d still be on track to head for Wales tomorrow, but I am pleased to report that my first stop in the morning will indeed by my first Welsh lighthouse! Yippee! 🙂

Day 24: Walney Island to Lytham St Anne’s (sort of)

Yep, it’s another sort of. Again, I will explain shortly.

Phew, what a day. I’ve basically been circling Morcambe Bay all day. Not always entirely successfully, but I gave it a good bash.

Walney Island was my first stop of the day and I only managed to see the lighthouse from a distance. This was mainly due to the fact that it’s within the grounds of a nature reserve and it was likely that I was going to have to pay to reach it. I ain’t interested in any of that paying business!

Today’s second stop was Rampside, which is the other side of the river from the Walney Island lighthouse. It’s a bit of an odd one, this. It basically looks like a really tall rectangular structure with a pointy roof (imagine a typical house as a child would draw it, but with the main body  being stretched vertically). Different, but in a good way, of course.

The lighthouse at Ulverston is majestically wonderful! It’s on top of a hill overlooking the town and looks absolutely stunning. I decided against walking up as it looked pretty steep!

Morecambe was my next stop and a very non-Jubilee infested place, apparently! The lighthouse is on the end of the town’s Stone Jetty, which was quite nice and the weather was rather pleasant for a stroll. This was also where I fulfilled my long-lasting craving for a pot of tea!

Just down the road is Heysham where there are two lighthouses. I managed to see one of them, which is next to the P&O ferry terminal. The other was not accessible or visible and, I believe, it’s in the grounds of a nuclear power plant. Wasn’t keen on that, so I forgot about that one.

Glasson Dock was also unsuccessful, unfortunately. It is locked (and tucked away, it seems) in a working site, so although I attempted to view it from a number of angles, I just could not spot it. Boo hiss!

Plover Scar is one of those structures that you can access at low tide apparently, but there was no direct road to the beach, so I decided to be content to view it from afar. Can you sense how bothered I was about these smaller guiding lights in harbours and stuff?!

Having said that, I absolutely adored my next stop, Fleetwood. In Fleetwood they love their fishermen and, therefore, their lighthouses. The structures are beautiful (pictured is the taller light which is a little further inland). The whole town has a lovely feel about it. They have lots of memorials to fishermen who lost their lives through their work and I caught sight of a memorial park as I was leaving. I’d love to go back their for another, longer visit in the future. They also have trams!

My final stop of the day was Lytham. Now, the reason I used ‘sort of’ in the title of this post is because I’m going to need to check my research again. I went for a wander and found the building that is apparently now topped by the old lighthouse that used to be on the sand dunes, but I’ve also read a piece about the design of the building, which mentions nothing about the lighthouse. Might need to check my sources again.

So, aside from all of that, the most dramatic event today was narrowly escaping getting 3 points on my licence! I arrived here in Lytham St Anne’s and went to turn into the road I’m staying on and, just as I turned I realised that it said no entry. It just so happened that there was a policeman nearby who came over. He had obviously seen that I was trying to correct my error so he said that he wouldn’t give me a ticket this time, but not to do it again. Oopsy!

Due to these here bank holidays I wasn’t able to find a campsite with space for a small one tonight, so I’m in a B&B. I’m pleased really as I have had a few cold and uncomfortable nights sleep in the tent recently, so I’ll be revived and ready for my (probably) last day of this month-long tour in England. Bring on Wales! 🙂

Day 23: Maryport to Hodbarrow Point

I woke up in a grumpy mood for the third day in a row today. Turns out camping isn’t comfortable for a few days, then it is and then it isn’t again. Not sure what that’s all about.

So anyway, I left the campsite feeling rubbish and cold. This continued at Maryport where I was blown about looking at the lighthouse (an odd thing) on the end of the pier.

If the wind wasn’t bad enough, I then got to Whitehaven where, apparently, they were having a big old fair/carnival for the Jubilee. So, there I was weaving in and out of the revellers in my hunt for the four, yes four, lighthouses (including the one pictured, which I think looks like it belongs in a circus). They were fairly easy to find, being nicely positioned on the end of each pier.

While I was in Whitehaven I had a glance towards St Bees (just to the south) in the hope that I would have an amazingly clear view of the lighthouse on the headland, but no such luck. The reason I was, in fact, hoping for this was because I knew that to see it properly it was going to involve a walk (and a long one at that).

However, as only a lighthouse-obsessive does, I braved it, not knowing exactly how far it would be. It was somewhat steep to begin with as expected when you walk from a beach to a cliff top. After that it was mainly plain sailing with some good views. What worked in my favour this time though was that I could actually see the lighthouse from about two miles away so that spurred me on. As my avid followers may remember there have been a couple of cases where I have attempted to approach a lighthouse on foot and given up due to the lack of signs of said lighthouse after a certain distance. The lighthouse itself was somewhat unimpressive and, as is common in these parts, a bit rusty. It was worth it for the walk though, which also managed to shake my bad mood. Double success!

After a long walk I was ready for a fair old drive to Haverigg, which is where I now write to you from. I am currently walking back down the sea wall-esque feature from Hodbarrow Point lighthouse. Now, if I thought some of the others I’d seen today looked a bit weathered, then this one is going for full on erosion. It’s rusty and some of the glass panels have smashed. Needless to say, this one is no longer in operation. What surprised me though was that they had a display panel nearby telling you about the lighthouse and showing a picture of it looking somewhat chirpier in the not-so-distant past. Very odd!

Oops, should probably look where I’m going. Nearly stepped in a massive puddle.

Until tomorrow, my friends! 🙂

Day 22: Killantringan to Silloth

Firstly, apologies, I managed to miss a lighthouse in my post yesterday. Turnberry lighthouse was a minor failure as I was only able to see it from a distance in the end (I don’t like golf clubs, they tend to come between me and lighthouses a little too often). In an attempt to see it I did a small amount of rock climbing across a beach only to realise that I’d need to do some fairly dangerous additional rock climbing to get anywhere near it. It’s always good to get a bit of exercise though! In the end I just settled for seeing it from a distance from the main road. The most exciting part about that though, was seeing a hare dashing across the road (I got a picture of it in action)!

Anyway, on to today. I stopped at Killantringan lighthouse first thing this morning. It was here that I realised how frequently I managed to only half read signs. There was a nice sign saying ‘Killantringan lighthouse’ near the entrance and I thought ‘oh, that’s lovely’. It was only as I was leaving that I read the second part, which said ‘the grounds are private property’. This was after I’d driven in and parked up, of course. Oh well, no one said anything and I didn’t hurt anyone!

I then drove to the northern point of the final “sticky out bit” of Scottish land to Corsewall Point. Fortunately I did read the signs this time and they told me that visitors were welcome (see, I read to good stuff) and so I visited! The lighthouse itself wasn’t actually open, but I had a bit of a wander around and took some pictures, of course. My last three Scottish lighthouses were all fairly standard style for Scotland.

My final lighthouse in Scotland came in the form of Mull of Galloway. Now this lighthouse was open and I received a certificate for climbing the 115 steps to the top (Ardnamurchan has 152, not that I’m comparing or anything)! Some great views from the top and even though I was told to mind my head as I stepped out onto the balcony I still managed to hit it (I always do that). It’s been rather windy today so I didn’t stay out there long. Anyway, with my certificate and free lighthouse bookmarks in tow, I bid a sad farewell to Scotland. It had been the part of the trip I’d most been looking forward to and it had definitely lived up to my expectations. Although I moaned about the roads and it was a long, long way to drive along the west coast, you can clearly see the change in scenery as soon as you’re back in England. I was welcomed back by the M9, so I suppose I shouldn’t have expected much. I met and saw a lot of people who were enjoying the coast just as much as I was and it’s great that Scotland has managed to maintain its own beauty and character. I absolutely loved it, even some of the single-track roads (just some, mind)!

So now I’m in Cumbria, Silloth to be more precise. It’s windy and the “lighthouse” here (pictured) differs slightly from those I saw earlier in the day. There is another similar structure here, which I will attempt to see on my way back to the campsite this evening.

The next few days are likely to bring a lot of more neglected lighthouses, something I found was the case in north west England during my research. I shall keep you posted! 🙂

Day 21: Ardrossan to Portpatrick

Well, it’s been a busy town-hopping day with a brilliant end.

I began today’s journey in Ardrossan where the lighthouse is tucked away behind railings next to a ferry terminal. Nothing too special about that, except it looks a bit neglected in comparison to some of those owned by either the Northern Lighthouse Board or Trinity House.

My second stop was Troon. Troon was fine in itself, again nothing amazing, but I had a horrific experience. I’d just got out of my car to look at a lighthouse and happened to look back at it and saw that there was a bird stuck in the grill at the front with its wings spread. I decided to mull over what to do about it while I went to see the lighthouse. When I returned I knew that what was needed was something to furk (my favourite Isle of Wight word) it out with. A tent peg would be perfectly, surely, and it was. The only problem was that when it fell out it fell onto its back with its wings still spread and it’s little legs stuck up in the air. That made me feel really quite ill, so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to go back and move it from where it had fallen in front of my tyre. So, you can guess the rest. I don’t feel good about it, but there is a certain type of bird that seems to like flying straight in front of the car and away really quickly. I cannot be held responsible for his lack of timing.

Anyway, I then entered a town with the most confusing roads ever: Ayr. I have no idea how anyone actually gets anywhere around it. I happened upon a car park that was going to charge me £3 so I moved on and, really luckily, found a free car park. It was a bit of a walk to the lighthouses there, but it was mostly alongside the river, so rather pleasant.

Girvan was my next stop. Girvan confused me a bit as there was a weird thing on the end of one of the piers that I imagine was once something important for guiding boats using light (who knows?). I’d read that there were two and there was a building in the harbour that had a tower that looked like it might have been a lighthouse. It may have been a good guess or may be completely wrong!

I then happened upon a lighthouse at the side of the road in Cairnryan, which runs alongside Loch Ryan. I wasn’t able to get close, but it’s a lovely place. This also reminds me that I happened upon two more lighthouses that weren’t on my list yesterday (love it when that happens – my usually response is ‘oh, hello you!’).

A short time later I arrived at my final destination of the day, Portpatrick. I managed to find the campsite on my third attempt and also found reception at the campsite on my third attempt (didn’t do very well there). I have an amazing view of Dunskey Castle from my tent and I went on a mini Famous Five-style exploration of it this evening. It was fascinating. It’s just a ruin now, but the moss that’s growing inside gives it a greenish light in places. Stunning! The village/town itself is also wonderful. The lighthouse (pictured) seems to face the village instead of the sea, but it’s beautiful. A really great place that falls into my handful of places I would love to come back to. One of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, in my opinion.

Only three more lighthouses remain before I bid a fond farewell to Scotland. More on this tomorrow! 🙂