There aren’t a lot of places where you can see multiple lighthouses in one view. It’s possible to see a number of lighthouses in quite a short space of time, but not often you can get a picture of more than one or two at a time. This is what, for me, makes the Calf of Man a little bit more special.
In my last post, I said that my next lighthouse trip would be in Wales, but we made a fairly last minute decision to spend a few days on the Isle of Man. So, last week we spent some time on this island (more on the main island to follow in a separate post) and were fortunate enough to get over to the Calf of Man with Isle of Man Diving Charters on our first day there. We were lucky as high winds were predicted for the following two days and the boatman wasn’t even entertaining the thought of going out then. It was an early start for the three of us, but we arrived a little early and waiting around for quite some time before anyone else arrived. We were told the boat would be leaving at 8.30am so to be there at 8.15. We arrived at about 8.10 and saw no one for at least 20 minutes when others turned up and the boatman eventually arrived. This was our first experience of the Isle of Man’s laid-back attitude. If we hadn’t been so worried that it had been cancelled and we would miss the chance to go, we may have appreciated this apparent cultural phenomenon a little more.
The journey over to the Calf went well and once we’d set foot on dry land at Cow Harbour we set off towards the lighthouses, which happen to be in fairly close proximity to the island’s high point, so we were both happy. It was a nice walk along and we passed the house which contains accommodation for visitors and the wardens.
Not only does the island have three lighthouses, none of which are operational, but Chicken Rock lighthouse also sits a mile off of the island. This was the first of the lighthouses we spotted. There’s something very special about a rock lighthouse, they never disappoint. It wasn’t long after seeing Chicken Rock that the other three came into view.
The two similar-looking lighthouses on the island were build in 1818 by Robert Stevenson & Co. to work as a pair, guiding ships away from the dangerous Chicken Rock. In 1875, however, a lighthouse was built on Chicken Rock itself and the two lighthouses were decommissioned. The fourth lighthouse was built on the island in 1968 by the Northern Lighthouse Board and the lightkeepers lived in the lighthouse building until automation took place in 1995. This lighthouse was finally discontinued in 2007 when the Chicken Rock lighthouse was upgraded. The buildings of the original 1818 towers are still fairly intact (particularly the lower), although the glass of the lamp rooms has cracked in various places. The buildings within the 1968 lighthouse compound is, as Bob said, “very 1960s” and has quite a unique look about it, with the short octagonal tower perched on top of the building. It was quite interesting to see the old fog horn station near the lower lighthouse with, what looked like, an orchestra of trumpets sticking out of it.
After seeing all of the lighthouses as close as I could, my main aim then was to get a picture of the four lighthouses all at the same time and, fortunately, this meant heading to the island high point. We wandered on up and had lunch at the top, while Seumas had fun “walking” around the high point and finding what we thought was a wildlife camera, which clicked while he was standing in front of it. So, somewhere out there it’s likely that there is a picture of a small boy walking towards the camera on the high point of the Calf of Man! I imagine they’re not used to seeing that!
When we left the high point we headed back towards the lighthouses via a different route, which allowed us to get the ideal picture (see top of post).
In the lead-up to the boat trip and on the day itself we spoke to the boatman about possibly sailing around the Calf of Man and getting a bit closer to Chicken Rock lighthouse (if you don’t ask, you don’t get). When he came to pick us up from the Calf, he still didn’t sound entirely sure, but said we’d give it a go. I’m pleased we did as we managed to get nice and close, while also getting some views of the coastline around the Calf of Man and views of the three lighthouses from the sea. We were really grateful to him for getting us around there. I think the others on the boat enjoyed it too, even if it wasn’t what they’d expected to be doing. An added bonus all round!
It was a great half-day and once we’d arrived back on the mainland we went to a tea room with views across Calf Sound to the Calf of Man. More on the mainland of the Isle of Man coming soon 🙂