The Great Manx Lighthouse Extravaganza – part two

Day two of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers event on the Isle of Man was all about the island’s little lights, and most importantly two new ones for me. These were to be found in Laxey. I’d visited on a previous occasion, but hadn’t been down to the harbour. It turns out I’d missed a real treat last time as the harbour here is wonderful. Before arriving at the piers though we were delighted to see replicas of the lighthouses in Laxey on the village’s new bridge. This bridge was built following the collapse of its predecessor in December 2015 followed a period of torrential rain and flooding. The collapse resulted in a double-decker bus ending up in the river. This new bridge was built to withstand the extra strain caused by flooding in the future. It’s a really lovely spot, with very picturesque views looking both out towards the harbour entrance and back inland too.

One of the replica lighthouses on the new Laxey bridge

Further on we arrived at the first of the two lighthouses, the pier light. In its own wonderful little way it has great character about it, and I am really rather fond of these little dumpy lights that are unique to the Isle of Man – or certainly I’ve not seen any exactly like them before elsewhere.

Laxey Pier Lighthouse

As at Point of Ayre yesterday, I had to get a picture of the others in the group hugging the lighthouse. However, this time I had the opposite problem to yesterday when I didn’t have enough people. Today I had a lot around so there was no need for the spreading out of arms. It was, as always, just a bit of fun.

The group “measuring” Laxey pier lighthouse

Though the little lighthouse on the breakwater in Laxey looks fairly close, just like those in Ramsey, it involves quite a walk to get to it and today’s was far more of a challenging walk than we’d had the day before getting between the two Ramsey lights. Firstly we needed to head back to the new bridge and from here cross the river and this was where it got a bit tiring. There are a series of steps, of very varying heights, contouring up the side of the hill. Some of these steps were almost too high for my little legs to manage and by the time I got to the top I think we were all glad of the break.

The view of Laxey harbour on the way to the breakwater light

A short walk from here though rewarded us with some glorious views looking down on the harbour entrance, Laxey beach and the coastline beyond. It was such a wonderful spot and you can see why they have put a bench up there as it would be an excellent place to spend some time just enjoying the view and taking it all in, all along this short grassy section.

The view from above Laxey harbour

What goes up must come down they say, and so it was to get onto Laxey breakwater. A track leading down, again contouring, with a handrail on one side was ready and waiting for our descent to the bottom where the entrance to the breakwater. We were immediately greeted by a duck and we let him wander past before proceeding to the light.

The welcome party on Laxey breakwater

They really are such sweet towers. At one point I stood in the doorway, which had a rather ginormous step up to it. The door, however, was less than ginormous with John referring to it as a ‘Sarah-sized lighthouse’. I’m not sure I could live in it for any length of time, but I’d give it a go. Although it was a fairly windy day, it was still quite calm, but I imagine it’s entirely different during wild weather from the west with waves breaking over the breakwater and pier. Today though it was fantastic. Just milling around at a lighthouse with friends is a great feeling. We are all there for the same reason and just enjoying taking in the scenery.

The Laxey breakwater light

A member of the group pointed out Snaefell, the highest hill on the Isle of Man, in the distance which gives a good idea of just how clear it was.

Laxey harbour as seen from the breakwater with Snaefell visible above the pier

It was time to head back up the hill to the coach as Peel was beckoning for the afternoon. We had plenty of time in Peel so very few of the group were in a hurry to see the lighthouses immediately here and lunch took priority. With full bellies – as the portions were huge, but excellent – we eventually set off in the direction of Peel Castle and the lighthouses. These two are significantly easier to get to simply by walking along the short pier and the large breakwater opposite the castle.

The breakwater and Castle Jetty lighthouses in Peel

The Castle Jetty Lighthouse is very similar to those in Laxey and, in fact, really interesting colours with very pale beige to match some of the other harbour buildings and then there are the green bands. It’s also the only lighthouse I’m aware of that has, what look like, traffic lights on it. The fellow ALK member I was with suggested that it is likely to be related to the tides and whether or not it is possible to gain access to the harbour. I’d noticed one or two others of these smaller harbour lights are showing signs of damage to the glass around the light which this one also has.

Peel Castle Jetty Lighthouse

The lighthouse on the end of the breakwater had been in view the whole time and it was time to head to it. Breakwater walks generally are longer, but in a way they are also better as you get so many different vantage points on the harbour, village or town as you walk along them. Peel breakwater was no exception.

Strangely this lighthouse, unlike in Ramsey and Laxey, was not a twin of the Castle Jetty light. It actually has a Cornish feel about it – a little like St Ives’ most modern harbour light without the gallery. It was a wonderful point for some gorgeous views across Peel, to the castle with the hills beyond, and far out to sea.

The view from the breakwater towards the castle and hills

I was keen to visit a locally-based ALK member and she suggested taking a look at the nearby cathedral after I left. Although it’s not lighthouse-related, I felt it worth including a few nice pictures here of the gardens surrounding the cathedral in Peel.

Plenty more to come tomorrow 🙂