Those who have seen some of my earlier posts (or even looked at the list of months that I have added posts on here) will know that , for me, there is such a thing as “lighthouse-bagging season”. Of course it’s possible to enjoy them just as much in winter, but the dark mornings and evenings aren’t conducive to a good bagging day.
Whenever the clocks change I’m glad of the lighter evenings and how much more of a day you get to enjoy the outdoors. So it’s no surprise that a few weekends ago we set off to visit a total of 10 new lighthouses and a revisit to a few others too. Due to a review of lighthouses we conducted over the winter, we were able to find some more to keep us going (more on this and the definition of ‘lighthouse’ in a future post).
So, that weekend the stretch we covered was on the north east coast between Nairn and Gourdon, just to the south of Inverbervie. Our first stop was Nairn East Pier where I got my feet wet. The design of the pier (which is narrower at the end) means that every now and then a larger wave washes over the top, which is exactly what happened as I approached. It would have happened on the way back too had I not been more prepared for it by then. The lighthouse itself has your typical lighthouse base, but is now topped with a “light on a stick” as I refer to them. I’ve not been able to find out any of the history of the lighthouse itself. The pier that it sits on offers some great views across one of the town’s sandy beaches to the east and towards the Black Isle to the north west.
Our next stop was the small town of Burghead where the sturdy-based lighthouse sits on the North Pier. The small lamp looks tiny in comparison to the big, white base. I was nicely surprised to see a squat little structure that also meets my requirements right at the end of the pier. It’s essentially just a cupboard with a light in it. It’s a great short stroll along the pier and a sample of the fantastic rock that adorns this coastline can be seen at the entrance.
There isn’t a huge amount to be said about the lighthouse on Lossiemouth south pier, except that it gets less and less interesting the further up it you look. It sits on a concrete base with a metal base to the main structure. Out of this metal comes an arrangement not dissimilar to an electricity pylon with a balcony on top. On top of that are a few contraptions on a post including the light. There are some lighthouses that just don’t inspire you (even I will admit that) and this is certainly one of them!
The little gold lighthouse on the end of the breakwater at Findochty had a bit more character to it – partly because of it’s colour. There’s not a lot to it, just a lamp room with a door that sits at the top of a spiral staircase. Having done some research into this, now disused, structure I discovered that it is usually painted gold for the summer months and white for the winter. The minutes of the local Community Council meetings towards the end of last year suggest that the intention was that it would be painted white, as per this schedule, at some point, but clearly that hadn’t happened, so I suspect it will remain gold for now. I quite like it that colour – it makes it more memorable. We also spotted a dolphin out to sea just before we left, which is always nice.
Portsoy is a very pretty little village which sits between the neighbouring villages of Cullen and Whitehills (both of which I visited on day 13 of my original lighthouse tour). While it shares some similarities with the two, Portsoy seems to have its own little charm. The small, white lamp room of the lighthouse sits on top of a private building. It’s possible to get views of the structure from a range of angles though thanks to the cosy little harbour. A beautiful, artistic metal dolphin sits across the other side of the harbour, which adds to the picturesque scene.
I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to our final stop for the day, Peterhead. My main memory of it last time was my stay at the campsite and the creepy old men who were also staying there when they only lived a few miles along the road. This time though we were searching the more built-up harbour area for a couple of, what I thought would be, less obvious lighthouses. We were just about to enter the pier that reaches out to the north of the harbour, heading towards the lighthouse near its end when we spotted a lighthouse just at the side of the road. Unlike many of the others we’d seen that day, this looked like a “proper” lighthouse with the stone base and lamp room integrated. After stopping for pictures we continued along the pier and through the various fishing-related buildings to where we were expecting a lighthouse to be. There was, it turned out, nothing to be seen there (apart from a view across to the second lighthouse) and further research has explained the relocation of the north harbour lighthouse. In April 2015 an application was submitted to Aberdeenshire Council to make alterations to the harbour at Peterhead, including the dismantling and re-erection of the lighthouse to its new location. The application states that: “It was proposed the lighthouse would have the masonry moved on a block by block basis after each block had been marked and recorded for position and then erected in the new location.” The application then goes on to say that the lighthouse had already been removed by the point the application was submitted without authorisation. It is noted in the document that the new/proposed location of the lighthouse would make it more accessible for the public, which it certainly is. I would have been quite happy to not have had to go searching around the numerous fishy buildings there and seen fish guts being dumped!
The second lighthouse in Peterhead harbour was much easier to find, being located just in front of the Peterhead Port Authority building. It’s basically the twin of the relocated structure, but isn’t looking quite as rejuvenated as it’s partner (presumably they gave the north harbour lighthouse a bit of a clean when the moved it!)
Our weekend of bagging new lighthouse continued, but more on that in the next post. 🙂