From Tiree to ‘Skerryvore’ – Scotland”s Tallest Lighthouse!

Skerryvore looking forboding on a cloudy day – Photo by Susie Gamble

Our holiday this year took us again back to the Island of Tiree. One thing I had in mind before arriving was to visit the Skerryvore Lighthouse, situated some 12 miles south west of the Island, right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. We had previously visited the Skerryvore Museum on the island, at Hynish, and had been fascinated by the story it told. So we registered our interest with Tiree Sea Tours shortly after arrival, and in the intervening period made another visit along to the Museum where there is an extensive collection of memorabilia and many information boards, from which much information has been gleaned for this blog.

During the period 1786 to 1938 the Stevenson family were responsible for the desisgn and building of 156 lighthouses around the coast of Scotland, including the lamps and optics, the engine room, the buildings, buoys and beacons, the radios and piers. The need was great, during the survey period and the building stage from 1790 until Skerryvore’s completion in 1844, more than thirty vessels had floundered on and around this reef! The toll of ships lost down the years must have been very considerable. Allan Stevenson, uncle of the well known writer and poet Robert Louis Stevenson, was the engineer in charge, and Skerryvore took three years to complete. The left hand side of the map below shows its exact location. His nephew descsribed Skerryvore as ‘the noblest of all extant deep- sea lights’ and considered by many to be the world’s most elegant and perfect lighthouse!

Well it seemed as if the weather would prevent us from achieving our goal to visit, but on the last day of our holiday we received news that the 2.5 hours return trip was on. The sea was fairly calm as we left Scarinish and followed the coastline along to Hynish to view the Museum from the sea. We then headed out towards the lighthouse and encountered a small pod of dolphins who swam alongside, which was so amazing to see. Later as we approached Skerryvore we enclountered a heavy sea swell, which prevented us getting as close to the lighthouse as we would have liked. Somehow this seemed to add to the trip, as we experienced the wildness and isolation of the place, and witnessed the changing sea conditions. It also let us see just how difficult it must have been on many occasions to change the lighthouse keepers at the end of their tour of duty.

We now have company as a pod of dolphins join us!

Approaching Skerryvore we encounter a large sea swell, but there it was – SKERRYVORE !

Reflection: The lighthouse has now been in use for 179 years on one of the most dangerous and exposed reefs to be found anywhere in the world, and one can only marvel at the skill, ingenuity and bravery of the men who designed and built it, and it is said, ‘with no loss of life‘! Four thousand three hundred blocks of rose coloured granite were used in its construction, it stands 156 ft tall with a diameter of 42 feet at the base and 16 feet at the top and weights 4,377 tonnes! This light has undoutedly saved many many lives, and we ‘take off our hats‘, to its designers, builders, and to the lighthouse keepers and maintenance engineers down through the years.

I bought this model of the lighthouse from ‘Tiree Sea Tours’ as a reminder of our exciting and memorable trip, and it currently has ‘pride of place’ on our mantlepiece. 🙂

The model also reminds me of another model lighthouse that I had many years ago. When I was in my twenties and thirties I was often asked to convey the Christian message to groups of children and young people, and it was always good to have an ‘object lesson’. So I had a cool 18″ tall lighthouse that lit up, that was very popular, and which I often used. Becoming a Jesus follower you see is all about heeding a warning light sent from heaven, telling us that humanity is in the dark and in great danger, and needs to steer a different course if they are to land safely on heaven’s shore, and avoid the wreckage of sin that the Bible names hell!

The warning LIGHT from heaven of course was JESUS. The Gospel of John starts with these words – ‘In the beginning was the Word, (Jesus) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.……. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world

Jesus said of Himself “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Yes there is a light that shines into the darkness of our all our hearts, (The true light that gives light to everyone) warning us to steer a different course, and it is the light of Christ. Remember, His name Jesus means Saviour, and no matter how undeserving we are or lost we might feel, if we come to Him he guarantees to save us from the consequences of our sin, made possible because of His substituitonary death on our behalf at Calvary, followed by His resurrection and ascension.

Skerryvore is the perfect illustration of that other light shining in the darkness – Jesus. He is the firm foundation on which we can build our lives, a rock sure and steadfast. When we come to Him His Word becomes a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Why not come?

Here is a video of that trip we made to Skerryvore, which I hope you enjoy

A Sea Trip to Skerryvore Lighthouse

Have a great summer if you are here in Europe, but be blessed wherever you are, and remember Jesus, the Light of the World!


South to Scotland’s Most Southerly Point!

We had planned to be on the Ayrshire Coast for the weekend, but due to unforseen circumstances we ended up in the town of Stranraer instead. Stranraer is considered the main gateway to Northern Ireland, and is famous for its ‘P&O’ and ‘Stena’ ferry terminals nearby. That has been our reasons for visiting the town in the past, but this time we had other ideas!

We found accommodation at the ‘Neptune Rest Guest House’, which was next to the shoreline and ideally suited for a gentle stroll along the promenade. We received a typically warm Scottish welcome, and found the place to be comfortable, clean and we enjoyed a more than ample breakfast. The location was also perfect for our plan to visit the Logan Botanical Garden and the Mull of Galloway!

Logan Botanical Garden

We arrived at the garden early in the day and enjoyed the peace and quiet of this ever so beautiful place, with its walled and wooded gardens and conservatory. So few people around at this time, and so the birds and fowl were easily spotted and kept up their song thoughout our stay. Far too many photos to show but here is a selection.

Logan Botanical Garden

The conservatory was smaller than expected but still well worth a visit. >

Logan Conservatory

We so loved this Garden, and wonder why we took so long to discover it? But soon it was time to move on through various picturesque villages to a wilder and more rugged country at the most southerly tip of the Mull, and indeed Scotland!

Drumore and the Most Southerly Point of Scotland

As we made our way back to Stranraer in late afternoon I made a quick stop to see the Kirkmadrine Stones, whilst Muriel relaxed in the car. This was a quiet, deserted, dramatic and atmospheric place. Let these few pictures tell their own story.

Visiting the Kirkmadrine Stones

Reflections: We visited a few more places during our visit but, all being well, these will form part of a later blog. Sometimes when you have to change plans quickly you feel a bit apprehensive, but on this occasion it all turned out better than we had imagined.

The beauty, and peace and quiet of the gardens contrasted so sharply with the wild landscape and the rugged coastline, the waves surging against the steep cliffs and the majestic views across the Irish Sea. And then the visit to the Kirkmadrine Stones just seemed to perfectly finish the day.

On reflection I thought that the day for many of us, was like a metaphor of life itself. The garden representing carefree years full of life, excitement, plans and expectations, and the wild and exposed headland and surging waves representing years that see storms, tragedies and dangers coming from unexpected directions, and then the Kirkmadrine Stones representing us fading into old age and eventually to life’s end.

However as I stood quietly on top of that small hill and looked and read these ancient stones (some dating back to 500-600 AD) I thought of those who had lived, and worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ in that little Church building, and who died and were buried there. Then my eye caught the inscription on the tall stone shown above. It was a quotation from the book of Revelation, spoken by Jesus after His resurrection. it reads “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” These words of Jesus transformed the scene before my eyes. For the truth of the words promised to his followers in John 11.25,26 have been demonstrated not only in the resurrection of Lazarus, but ultimately vindicated in Jesus’ own resurrection.

Christians all around the world celebrate Easter, and we do as well. We humble ourselves to consider Christ’s death on a cruel cross, his burial in a borrowed tomb, sealed with a heavy stone, and greatly rejoice at his amazing resurrection. We then apply that truth again to ourselves just as countless millions have done down the years, the Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me’!

I was reminded of that as I turned to come down the hill and took a last look back at the cross. Yes, in spite of indifference, and opposition to the good news of Jesus ‘the Cross is still there after all these years‘ and Jesus still invites us to come for forgiveness and to find new life through repentence and faith in His finished work. It took us a longtime to discover the wonder of the Logan Botanic Garden, and it takes some folks a longtime to discover the unsurpassable beauty of Jesus and His love. But it’s still not too late, so why not come this Easter?

Wherever you are, I wish you God’s blessing this Easter


PS: If you think Easter is too good to be true try listening to Pastor Colin Adams on the subject – it’s just 5.50 minutes in length.