uklighthousetour

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

Learning to (re)love a good old British holiday

durdle_doorThis picture, taken with my good friend Liz at Durdle Door in Dorset (when I had blonde hair and glases), is – in my opinion – the epitome of all that is great about holidaying on the Great British coast (allow me to explain). It is a far cry from your typical summer holiday snap – there is no blazing sun to speak of, no brightly-coloured cocktails and certainly no hint of painful sunburn – as we have now come to know them.

However, I’d like you to cast your mind back to your childhood holidays, which (if you’re from a happy working-class family like me) you’ll remember fondly as a time to have fun away from home with no three-hour wait at an airport, no need for passports or security checks and the ability to speak to new people without having to learn a new language (not that I would ever encourage children to speak to strangers, but you get my point).

I recently read (with some irritation) a free weekly women’s magazine, the theme of which was travel. This issue was packed with pictures of idyllic far-off lands, relaxing spas and long-stretches of white sandy beaches. Now, I’m not opposed to a bit of long-distance travel – far from it – but what I am opposed to is that this magazine featured absolutely no UK-based holiday destinations.

Some people may find the British habit of self-deprecation endearing, but (in my opinion) we have no reason at all to be ashamed of our country as a place to spend a long weekend or a full blown holiday. So, I’m in favour of no more: ‘We’re off on holiday next week?’, ‘Going anywhere nice?’, ‘Oh, just a week in Cornwall’. Did you know that, in the far west of Cornwall, the sea turns turquoise in the sun and the sand is (would you believe it) white?! You may also be interested to know that Spurn Point on the Yorkshire coast is a sand spit stretching for more than 3 miles as a result of longshore drift (you don’t get those everywhere, you know), and those fortunate enough to visit the Scottish Highlands in January may encounter the beauty of the Northern Lights! See, intriguing, isn’t it?

During my research of the UK coastline I found some more fascinating statistics, for example, did you know that the UK coastline (including islands) is three and a half times longer than the coast of Spain and more than five times longer than that of France. Also, the UK is made up of more than 1000 islands and, wherever we are in the country, we are never more than a 2-hour drive from the coastline.

One of my hopes for my impending trip is that it will provide a glimpse of what it means to get back to and enjoy the true beauty of this island we live on. So, the weather may not always be great and it may not, in fact, be the cheapest country to travel in, but it has its own unique charm, breathtaking scenery and some simply fantastic fish and chips! I shall keep you posted on my journey and I hope it goes some way towards encouraging you to make your next holiday a Great British one! 🙂

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A short trip to Trinity Buoy Wharf

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!

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Accommodation ideas?!

Hi all!

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!

Thanks

Sarah 🙂

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To Wrath or not to Wrath?!

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!

Sarah 🙂

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A crazy idea, but a good one!

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!

Sarah 🙂

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