Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Climbing Ailsa - 3

From the trolley engine house I followed the overgrown rail line to the lighthouse enclosure. You can just barely see the rail line as it curves to the left in the lower right of the photo.

The outer buildings in the lighthouse enclosure were a sad sight. Built in the 1880s, they were derelict and open.

The inner buildings of the enclosure were ship-shape: freshly painted and locked up tight.  Although the tower was surprisingly short, about 36 feet, its light can be seen for 17 miles.

Here you can see the solar panels that power the light. If you want to read an interesting account of what it was like to be a keeper on this once rat-infested island, see Peter Hill's book Stargazing.

On the hillside behind the light I found the path that climbs to the castle. The castle lies at an elevation of 400 feet, and halfway up I turned to look back to the lighthouse. From a distance it made quite a picturesque sight, the dereliction almost invisible.

Although it was only a 400 foot climb, because of the heat I had to rest a few times. But they were short rests. I needed to rush. I only had a few hours, and after exploring the castle I wanted to climb to the top of the island (about 1100 feet). As I followed the path upwards the little castle soon appeared against the skyline. Next time we'll step into the castle to see what it looks like.

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