uklighthousetour

One crazy lady and a bizarre obsession = an ongoing tour of the best lighthouses the UK has to offer

Gadding about in Galloway

It was going to be difficult to beat the success of Saturday’s Hestan Island visit Saturday’s Hestan Island visit, but we had a very good go yesterday anyway.

After a two-hour drive over to the Rhins of Galloway we met up with John, Steve and Lianne at Port Logan. The little harbour lighthouse at Port Logan had alluded me on previous visits to the area. Somehow I’d not known about it and, with it being so easy to get to it seemed rather odd that I’d still not made it there.

Port Logan lighthouse

It’s a lovely little tower, dating back to 1818, although obviously no longer in use. The original report proposing the introduction of a lighthouse as part of a new harbour here was drawn up by John Rennie. It’s possible to access both the ground and first floors as well as the attached little out-house type room which looks like it contained a bath! From the first floor you can look up and see the inside of the old lantern area. Originally the lantern would have been accessed by ladder from the first floor. It was nice to wander around and the kids enjoyed going in and out too, sheltering from the wind that had picked up overnight.

Looking up to the lantern in Port Logan lighthouse

Bob had taken along his drone and this was his first opportunity to experiment with using it around lighthouses. Of course they are an excellent feature for drone images.

A drone’s eye view of Port Logan lighthouse

Leaving my parents and the kids to play on the beach the rest of us set off for an attempt to visit Crammag Head lighthouse. Steve and Lianne had visited last year, although found it was not the most pleasant of experiences as it involved crossing a field of cows. I think we were all expecting the same again yesterday, but we thought we had to try it as it was one that John and I had both been keen to get a closer view of – having previously settled for a view from the road.

After a brief chat with the people staying at the holiday accommodation at the nearby farm we set off towards the gate and were very pleased to discover two empty fields with no cows to contend with. Aside from a muddy section the walk was easy and it was such a fantastic feeling to see the top of the tower emerge over the hill. I am particularly fond of this type of lighthouse and it was wonderful to see a new one of these close up. John clearly shared my joy by giving the lighthouse a hug alongside me. It’s almost as if the weather knew what a happy moment it was as it sent in blue sky shortly after we‘d arrived.

Crammag Head lighthouse

While there we saw the base of the old lighthouse, which made a perfect take-off and landing pad for Bob’s drone. We took a stroll down to the old landing area for the lighthouse, which we assumed must have – at some point – featured a derrick for bringing materials etc. in as it was nowhere near sea level.

The base of the former lighthouse at Crammag Head with the modern light behind

I’d always associated this lighthouse with cows, but the visit yesterday changed my mind entirely. It’s a relatively new tower, although a lighthouse has stood here since 1913, having been replaced in December 2009.

Crammag Head from the sky

We stopped back in Port Logan briefly to pick up the others we set off for the Mull of Galloway for lunch. My plans for a nice picnic were perhaps a little unrealistic as the wind was a bit “fresh”. It was 8 years ago I last visited the Mull of Galloway lighthouse and that was on my original tour. I managed a tour of the tower that time. Due to the pandemic, the lighthouse is closed this season, but that didn’t seem to have put people off. It was the opposite end of the scale to Crammag Head where we were alone.

Mull of Galloway lighthouse

While walking around the lighthouse complex I mentioned to John that Mull of Galloway wasn’t one of my favourite lighthouses and he asked if it was because you could “just drive up to it and wander around” – clearly he’d paid attention while reading yesterday’s blog post! I suppose I’ve spent a lot of time visiting more remote lighthouses and I have grown to love not seeing lots of people at these places. It somehow makes the visit feel more personal and special when you are the only ones around.

Looking up to Mull of Galloway lighthouse from the foghorn

On my previous visit I’d not paid much attention to the foghorn, apart from seeing it from the top of the lighthouse. I received a message from Bob to say that our son wanted to go down to the foghorn so we set off to join them. There are a fair amount of steps down to it, but it’s worth it for the views. Foghorns are really starting to grow on me and one day it would be great to go back there to hear it being sounded.

Mull of Galloway foghorn

All in all it was a great day with Crammag Head being the real highlight. I’ve missed the lighthouses in recent months and it’s great to be getting back to them again. 🙂

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A paddle to Hestan Island

This post feels like it’s been such a long time coming. After months of no new lighthouses, no travelling and cancelled trips today was the day I’d been waiting for.

We had originally booked 10 days in Shetland over this period, but with the ferry journeys cancelled for us we decided to chance it and book a week’s stay at a cottage near Lockerbie with a good cancellation policy. Thankfully restrictions were lifted enough to enable the trip to happen.

One of the key lighthouses I wanted to get to while in Dumfries and Galloway was on Hestan Island. Hestan Island is accessible at low tide from Almorness Point and so, in preparation for the trip, I looked at the days with the lowest tide during our stay in the area, which happened to be the first morning when it would be 0.93 metres at 10.18am. This meant an early start, meeting at 8.15am to allow us to begin our walk, returning from the island at the lowest tide.

The forecast was looking grim to say the least with heavy rain on the agenda, but we must always continue when the opportunity is there. The opportunity was even more appealing as we were to be joined by my wonderful lighthouse partner in crime, John, and a couple of lighthouse friends who share our enjoyment of islands and lighthouse, Steve and Lianne. There was no way this could be missed.

As we approached Palnackie, just to the north of Almorness Point the rain stopped and the cloud began to look like it was clearing. We parked up, met the others and all set off (with my dad along too) in our waterproofs. It turned out the waterproofs weren’t needed as the grey clouds continued to clear and the sun and blue sky even came out at a few points.

Part of the first section of the track

The walk to the sea was great. A clear track all the way and interesting enough to make it feel like it wasn’t onerous. It became muddier towards the end, evidence of the recent heavy rainfall.

Our first view of the lighthouse, which can just about be seen in the far distance

We arrived at the coast, a nice beach, and caught our first glimpse of the lighthouse in the distance. Changing into our wellies, applying Skin So Soft to put the flies off and removing a layer of clothing, we then set off from the beach across the, sometimes sticky, sand to reach the “wet” section. I say the wet section as it is never fully clear of water.

Enjoying time with friends

Thankfully Bob had visited last year and knew the best place to cross the water. After giving us instructions to walk sideways, facing the current, if we felt it was getting too strong we set off. Never before have I paddled in water that deep to see a lighthouse, but it was great fun. The water level was higher than we had expected, although we crossed around 45 minutes before low tide. We put this down to the amount of rain we’d had overnight and that morning. The pebble section beyond it was harder to walk on, but we were rewarded with some fantastic views of the island ahead of us.

Paddling to the island

There is a holiday home on the island and the owners were clearly there as their dog jumped around barking in welcome at us. Once on the island we set off to the right of the house and up toward the high point. I’m not really a fan of walking uphill and John echoed my thoughts when he said “Is he [Bob] taking us to the high point?” He was, but it turned out that was the most direct route to the lighthouse. I must also give him extra credit as the views from the top were stunning, especially down towards the lighthouse and then back across the way we had come.

Looking back from the island

Of course, after we’d reached the highest point we then had to go back down the other side and, throwing our hoods up to avoid the circling gulls doing their business on our hair, we set off straight for the lighthouse.

The rather grubby lighthouse

The lighthouse is a flat-pack (or IKEA) style, but what is worthy of note is that it is a three tier flat-pack and these are fairly rare – the only others that we could remember between us being on Hoo Stack and Shillay in the Monach Isles. This one is not pretty-looking and is quite dirty. As we approached we spotted the lack of a door. It would have been rude not to have stepped inside and so we did. The hatch up to the next level of the tower was sadly padlocked so we had to settle for viewing the ground floor level only, but we had made it and all thoroughly enjoyed the walk there. I think the lack of lighthouse visits in recent months added to this enjoyment and we were all relieved that we could be back out there and doing something we love.

Hestan Island lighthouse

I still strongly feel, and I said this today, that I often enjoy the journey getting to these flat-pack lighthouses more than I do the bigger lights. Their remote and challenging locations often make for some much more memorable moments, especially compared to driving to a car park next to a lighthouse wall and wandering around for a while.

Being up against the tide meant we couldn’t stay long so we began our return journey. We were all expecting the tide to have dropped further on the way back, but there appeared to be little change apart from the final section where we now had to move fast to avoid getting stuck in the sand.

Celebrating with Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers for a moment we enjoyed the views back to the island before continuing our walk back.

Looking back towards the island

These few hours going to and from Hestan Island were fantastic and sharing it with some brilliant friends and family made for a very special occasion. I will remember it for a long time to come and it was a perfect way to start a rather late bagging season this year. 🙂

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