Lighthouse Tour of England 2012

Group photo at the Pendeen Lighthouse




Our first tour stop was at the Royal Crescent in the city of Bath. Built in the 18th century it is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the United Kingdom.




Our first lighthouse at Avonmouth pier required us to don visi-jackets and hard hats. Bill looked especially smart in his hat, Skip waved from the top and Ken & Dianne were just plain fashionable




The 1908 Avonmouth North Pier light is located at the end of a pier on the northeast side of the mouth of the River Avon. This was one of the few lighthouses we actually climbed.




The Avonmouth Harbor lock was one of many we saw on the tour made necessary by the extreme tidal range of the Severn estuary, which is at the mouth of four major rivers (Severn, Wye, Usk & Avon). The tidal range was reported to us as being the second highest in the world, after the Bay of Fundy.




The Roman Baths complex is a site of historical interest in the city of Bath. The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. However, we were warned not to touch the water because the water is considered unsafe partly due to its having passed through the still-functioning original lead pipes.




The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, commonly known as Bath Abbey provided us a wonderful landmark to keep from getting lost while wandering around the town.




An unexpected opportunity to climb the Blacknore Lighthouse was provided by Bill Shier, who helped set up the trust that saved the lighthouse.




A special treat was a chance to meet Julia Elton, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County of Somerset. Here Ms. Elton, a lens expert, explained to Darlene & Ken the nature of the Blacknore lighthouse's unique biform dioptic lens.




Mary Lee and Glen watched as Darlene attempted to photograph an unusual angle of the opening to the Blacknore Lighthouse lantern room!




Phil displays his Dexter Mill t-shirt for the first of many times, trying to win a contest back home. Never heard if he did. Ken, Roger & Skip joined in for support.




The unusually designed Portishead (Battery Point) Lighthouse was repainted in 2012 just in time for our visit.




At the end of our first full day we were able to tour the John Sebastian Lightship and some stayed behind for the cocktail hour.




On the second day, our English tour guide, Jake Simpkin, was joined by our driver Jerry. Jake's knowledge, attention to detail and good humor along with Jerry's driving skills resulted in a great tour.




An early morning walk through a hay field was required to view the Berkeley Pill Range lights.




The range lights at Berkeley Pill were built in 1937 to replace earlier wooden masts, which mark the entrance to the Little Avon where it meets the River Severn.




While the crew's quarters and engine room of the Lightship Sula have been converted into alternative therapy rooms by Jan and Agnes van der Elsen, they have retained and restored the deck, original light, fog horn and most of the ships fittings. We had a great tour and were even able to climb into the lantern room.




Steve and Nancy pose with the Clifton suspension bridge in the back ground. Designed by Isambard Brunel, the bridge was competed in 1864 and still meets the demands of daily commuter traffic of 12,000 cars a day.




Joe, Nancy & Bob relax after our visit to the Chedworth Roman Villa.




We were greeted at Burnham on Sea by Chris Nicholson, author of The Rock Lighthouses of Britain, who gave us a history of the many lights in this area.




Burnham on Sea was the site of a number of structures used as lighthouses including the Burnham on Sea high light, Old Tower and St Andrews Church.




The Burnham on Sea low light with its nine legs, two lights and red stripe resembles something out of Star Wars. Here you can see both the low and high lights.




Fortunately it was low tide at Burnham on Sea as Phil & Tom did some directing. It was a nice hike uphill through the sand to get back to the bus.




Jake proves that a tour guide's job is never done as he cleaned the beach mud and sand from our shoes after our hike to the Burnham on Sea low light.




Two of the regional foods we sampled were a cream tea (which included tea, a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam) and the Cornish pasty filled with beef, diced potato, yellow turnip and onion. This baked delight is the national dish of Cornwall.




We missed royalty by just a few days as Princess Anne attended the 150th celebration of the Watchet Harbor Lighthouse less than a week after we stopped by.




While some climbed to Dunster Castle, others remained in town to contribute to the local economy.




The Tors Hotel in Lynmouth provided wonderful panoramic views of the harbor below.




The Tors Hotel had some wonderful food, including duck breast, pork belly, lemon coconut tart and toffee waffle cheesecake.




Most of us took the boat ride for a view of Foreland Point lighthouse, but later in the day Glen, Steve, Dick and Jake hiked the several miles to get an up close view.




Foreland Point Lighthouse was built in 1900 to assist vessels passing through the Bristol Channel.




Peggy & Bill aboard Matthew's boat on our way to Foreland Point.




Steve, Pat & Ron pose in front of the Lynmouth Pier light.




The Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway is a unique water-powered funicular railway joining the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth.




In Ilfracombe we visited the Chapel of St Nicholas which from the Middle Ages maintained a light to guide shipping into the harbor.




With our trip to Lundy Island cancelled, the boats headed for a view of Bull Point Lighthouse.




The current Bull Point Lighthouse is relatively new having been built in 1974. The old lighthouse keepers' cottages are now being let out to tourists as self-catering holiday rentals.




Joe and Ann managed to keep warm and dry during the rough ride out to Bull Point.




After we transferred to a smaller bus, we still had a hike up hill to view Hartland Point Lighthouse.




Hartland point marks the western limit (on the English side) of the Bristol Channel with the Atlantic Ocean continuing to the west. The views from above the lighthouse were spectacular and we were even able to get distant views of two of the lights on Lundy Island that we missed the day before.




Skip & Jake enjoying the beautiful weather at Hartland Point that followed our stormy day in Ilfracombe.




Hartland Point lighthouse has been sold by Trinity House (for 500,000 GBP) so access was not permitted.




Bude provided a couple of interesting signs - One indicating that the Post Office also sold pasties (maybe the US Postal Service could learn something from this) and another one indicating that sailings to Lundy were on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturdays and some other days! I guess we should have booked our trip on one of the "other" days.




Pat & Dianne were able to find ice cream at virtually every stop on the tour.




A minor change in the itinerary gave us the opportunity to visit the Trevose Head Lighthouse with its 1st Order 3 Panel Catadioptric lens.




Our "free" day turned into multiple lighthouse expeditions with our first stop at the Godrevy Lighthouse, the lighthouse that is said to have inspired Virginia Woolf to write To the Lighthouse.




We encountered numerous ruins of Cornish tin mines including this stack located near the site of the Godrevy lighthouse.




After dropping off part of the group in Penzance, the bus was rerouted through the very narrow streets of the town of Marazion. We were never sure how our driver, Jerry, managed to get past this bus!




The twin towers of the Lizard Lighthouse are a great sight. Unfortunately one of them had the dreaded scaffolding surrounding it.




While in St Ives many in the group walked into town to view the two lights on Smeaton's Pier.




It was a beautiful day when we boarded the Scillonian III for our ride to Hugh Town on St Mary's Island, Scilly Isles.




The ferry ride to St Mary's offered a view of ten different lighthouses, including this great water view of the Tater Du Lighthouse.




Our best views of Wolf Rock came on the ferry ride to St Mary's.




Two of the lights we viewed from the Scilly Isles ferry were Penzance Pier and Peninnis Head.




The harbor at Hugh Town was very busy with private and commercial boat traffic.




Here the group is loading up for our ride to Round Island and Tresco.




The Round Island Lighthouse, also called the "hump lighthouse," was built in 1887.
The island has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its importance for breeding seabirds.




Here the group begins the trek to the New Inn on Tresco. This is where the term a "Jake mile" was created as our tour guide's estimate of distance became very suspect.




Our "Jake mile" walk was rewarded with a lunch of fish, chips & mushy peas at the New Inn.




The return ride from Tresco was like being in a life boat as we were joined by a significant number of "non-tour" individuals.




One of the highlights of the tour was the trip out to Bishop Rock. Along the way the boat captain piloted us to up close views of the local gray seals.




Built in 1680, the St Agnes Lighthouse was the second to be built in Cornwall (after the Lizard). The lens has been removed, but the lighthouse still serves as a daymark for shipping.




The weather really cooperated as we approached the Bishop Rock Lighthouse.




Like many of the "rock" lighthouses in Britain, the lantern room and lens of Bishop Rock are somewhat hidden by the helicopter pad and its supporting structure.




The two sides of a sign at a local pub in Hugh Town, The Bishop & Wolf, provided an interesting way of looking at the two nearby lighthouses of Wolf and Bishop Rock.




Joe explains to Jake and Dick how he plans to stuff all of his souvenirs into his luggage.




Every morning we were reminded about the extreme tidal range in the local harbor.




While visiting the Scilly Isles we encountered Patricia, the Trinity House flagship which carries passengers while performing her normal duties including maintenance of navigational buoys and refueling offshore lighthouses.




While waiting for the ferry to return to Penzance even the guys went shopping!




Upon arriving in Marazion to visit St Michael's Mount, we found ourselves in the middle of a triathlon. Here Ann gets directions as to where she can change into her swimsuit!




St Michael's Mount is a rocky island crowned by a medieval church and castle - with the oldest buildings dating from the 12th century. It is still home to the St Aubyn family. We arrived in time to hike out to it at low tide.




Dianne, Pat and Mary Lee pose in front of what once was the St Michael's Mount dairy.




While Land's End has become more like a commercial amusement park, it still provides the best land view of the Longships Lighthouse.




One of the interesting features of the many washrooms we encountered was this all-in-one hand washing gadget.




The nicely maintained Pendeen Lighthouse retains it original first order lens.




Lunches on our own allowed us to discover many eclectic "take aways." Here Bob & Lois relax for lunch in Penzance.




Our tour of Plymouth included a stop at the "Mayflower Steps" in the Barbican area of Plymouth from which the Pilgrim Fathers are believed to have left England in 1620. A plaque nearby commemorates the passengers that were on board the Mayflower.




Dick, Glen and Steve prepared for our trip to the Eddystone with fish & chips and a pasty from a local take away.




After looking at Boat 1 - Lois made the wise decision to stay behind. This allowed Jake to join Boat 2 where his new friend made a similar judicious choice not to venture out into the darkening skies.




The beginning of the ride to the Eddystone provided a great view of Smeaton's Tower and the Plymouth waterfront.




While inside Plymouth harbor, the weather was fairly calm as we passed the Plymouth Breakwater light.




The trip to the Eddystone Lighthouse was one for the highlight reel. Boat 1 people got soaked, Boat 2 people were not much better off and all of this led Jake to declare that "you lighthouse people are truly mad!"




After 14 miles of wind, waves and rain we arrived at one of the world's most famous lighthouses. We all came away with a greater appreciation for what it took to construct a lighthouse on these reefs so far from shore.




Other sites along the way to and from the Eddystone included a submarine, the Queen Anne's Battery Rear Range light, the Plymouth Harbor fog signal building and some friendly seals.




Every morning began with a full English breakfast made up of items viewed here - and more!




After seeing the "stub" of Smeaton's tower we were able to visit and climb the reconstructed tower on the Plymouth waterfront.




We took some time off from "lighthousing" to explore Lydford Gorge, the deepest gorge in Southwest England. Here Mary & Phil carefully walk along a slippery edge of one of the many gullies.




The Exeter Cathedral, built in the 1400's, was badly damaged in an air raid in 1942. The restored building is still a thing of wonder!




Our group received a private tour of Exeter Cathedral where we learned a great deal about its history and construction.




Having suffered enough at the hands of 25 "mad" wickies, our guide, Jake, bid us a fond farewell in Exeter - leaving us in the capable hands of our bus driver, Jerry, and the less capable hands of backup guide - Skip!




Some agreed upon changes in the itinerary took us to Portland Bill Lighthouse on the last day of our tour. While the grounds were open, the tower was closed due to an inspection being carried out by Trinity House.




The Portland Bill low and high lights wrapped up our lighthouses for the tour during which we traveled 2,048 miles (on land and sea), while visiting 46 lights (according to Darlene, our official statistician).




As usual, it was the camaraderie of the group that made the trip a huge success!



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