Advent: December 18th

I said I’d show you the stunning vista the Hebridean sheep from yesterday’s post have.

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Holyhead Mountain, the beautiful heathland of The Range, the bird rich cliffs and shore and the Irish Sea stretching out to the horizon. The ferries pass along here on their way to and from Dublin several times a day. I like this place best in late afternoon when the sunlight shimmers and glitters on a thousand-thousand wavelets and the blue-grey of the ocean sparkles until it bleeds into the grey-blue mirror of the skies…

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South Stack lighthouse guards this entrance of the hazardous shipping route towards Liverpool docks. Before the beacons here were built, many ships foundered and sank with great loss of life, both human and animal, as well as great wealth (in the case of the tragic clipper The Royal Charter which sank with millions of pounds of gold on board as well as horrific loss of life within miles of home after returning from Australia). In many cases these ships were wrecked within a few metres of shore having been pounded onto the treacherous rocks lining the coast but with little hope of rescue for the hapless passengers, particularly for women aboard hampered by the huge amounts of cloth in they clothing and children too small to survive the immersion in freezing cold merciless surf.

I walked over the old bridge to the lighthouse as a child (actually I was carried and I was terrified, the “new” bridge is much more solid feeling to walk over!). With its boiling chasm of waters beneath it is easy to see how little chance passengers on a wrecked ship have to survive, even in relatively calm conditions let alone in the kind of storms the Atlantic can throw at the west coast of the UK.

South Stack Lighthouse was built just over 200 years ago to aid ships to navigate these waters along with the other beacons further in towards England. Now automated by Trinity House, it continues to aid seafarers safe passage and partly because of that perhaps, is one of the most beautiful buildings I know.

 

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