Windows in Time

By ColourWeaver

Dunnet Head Light House

Dunnet Head Light House is the most northerly point in the mainland of the United Kingdom!

Standing only 20 metres high but I OS metres above sea level, Dunnet Head Lighthouse marks the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland being some 2.35 miles north of John O'Groats. Only 6.75 miles across the Pentland Firth lies the nearest point of the Orkney Islands. The lighthouse was designed by Robert Stevenson and was built in 1831.

Erosion of the rock on which the original fog signal stood (built in 1899), made it necessary to abandon it and to establish another fog signal nearer the lighthouse, A third fog signal was established in 1952, but this was discontinued in 1987.

A Principal Lightkeeper and two Assistants, with their families, lived at Dunnet Head until the light became automated in 1989.

Lightkeeping was a remote, lonely and hard existence. At night the Keeper was required to keep a watch in the lightroom to ensure that the light flashed correctly to character. During daytime keepers were engaged in cleaning, painting if necessary, and generally keeping the premises clean and tidy.

The original lens has been replaced with a lamp array. Now when daylight falls and rises between set levels, a light sensor automatically switches the light on and off. The light is monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board's headquarters in Edinburgh. Maintenance is carried out once a year when the Board's technicians visit the light.

Following the automation of the lighthouse the former keepers' cottages and outbuildings were sold and are now in private ownership.

From Dunnet Head looking towards the Orkney Isles to the east you can see the island of Stroma. Its lighthouse is on the north west side of the island where four of five tides can meet and make a deep roaring gulf. Further to the east there is the island of Muckle Skerry with the Pentland Skerries lighthouse easily distinguished by its two tall towers, one being the lighthouse; the other now the platform for the fog horn.

(Taken from the information board erected by the Northern Lighthouse Board)

In the sea mist of the blue haze you can just make out Westlee Moor Island, part of the Orkneys closet to the Mainland Britain.

Farewell Orkneys, until next time...

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