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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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I was very pleased to note all the islands engaging in a blogging frenzy this weekend, particularly Orkney. What I did miss was a reference to North Ronaldsay's efforts to get its Dennis Head Lighthouse restored to a semblance of its former glory. So, I'll pick up the can - it doesn't appear that anyone from North Ron is blogging on here, I think.

Like with so many islands in Orkney, I have fond memories of North Ronaldsay, having spend one afternoon plus one weekend on it two years ago. I had intended to take the early Friday ferry at the tim e, but when I turned up on the quayside in Kirkwall, the boat had left. Its scheduled departure time, 9 am, was still 45 minutes away, but the skipper decided he could leave as he wasn't expecting anything or anybody else. To jollification with the timetable. So I had to fly. Ach, £12 return is probably even cheaper than the ferry fare.

To return to the subject of my entry: Dennis Head Lighthouse was built in 1788 on the eastern tip of North Ron. It was decommissioned 20 years later, after its unblinking light was found to be confused with a ship's light. I believe that 3 ships stranded near the tower on one occasion. The whale-oil lights were replaced with a stone ball, and another blinking lighthouse was erected half a mile to the north in the 1840s. This one is still in working order to this day.

The islanders want to restore the Dennis Head light (of 1788) to its former glory. A modern metal spiral staircase will be installed, and access given to the top of the tower. The keeper's cottages will be rebuilt and turned into period style self catering units. At present, the wee house is a ruin and the tower a guano filled shell. North Ronaldsay doesn't just want to restore the tower, the islanders also want to reinvigorate their aging and dwindling population. Cost of the project: £1.7 million.

North Ronaldsay is a singular island, where a 7 ft high wall runs along the entire foreshore. Sheep graze on the seaward side of the wall - on seaweed. They often meet groups of seals in the tidal area. The island gives a slightly delapidated appearance, due to the many abandoned buildings. I think it deserves a chance.

For fairness' sake, last Friday's programme also featured a magnificent former town hall in the Scottish Borders, which would look great if restored to its former glory. There was also a church in Cromarty, on the Black Isle north of Inverness, which had lain idle for about 8 years. It suffered badly from water ingress, but on restoration could become a new focal point for the community.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 11:55


Perhaps North Ronaldsay should be left to sheep and seals? If I were to move there, I would probably only add to the decrepitude and emphasize the aging population (though part of the 1.7 million pounds could reinvigorate me, eh?!). ## On a totally different subject (and on a serious note): there has been no posting or any other sign from Annie Beag for months. I guess I get attached to bloggers/the various sites - some more than others, obviously -, and I am worried about Annie Beag's silence. Hope she is fine. If anyone knows her personally, do say hello and give my best wishes to her. Thanks.

mjc from NM,USA

We won the Scottish bit of Restoration "Village"!! Hip, hip, Harray! A ruckle o' stanes full of guano, on a wee island with a wee population of 60 folk, won...............the doings of humans are beyond me.

Flying Cat from doing the jubilation jig

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