Shetland: walk to the lighthouse

I walked over to the distant headland, called Whites Ness. It was a long walk.

The walk round the peninsula of Whites Ness is way-marked.

OS Maps: lighthouse, Vaila Sound

When I reached the end of the peninsula, I saw that there was a lighthouse marked on the map.

I wondered if it were really there. Would it be a real lighthouse, or maybe simply a buoy off the rocks?

The path was not very well marked, and seemed to be mainly uphill. I was a good way through what was already quite a long walk. And I had to walk back. But I kept on going. It seemed an unlikely location for a lighthouse. Of course I had in my mind those lighthouses I have seen, built by the Stevenson family in the 18th Century, red and white striped, towering over cliffs.

Here there were relatively mild rocks, smooth grass and a few sheep.

But then, against all expectation, there was the lighthouse. I was delighted. There was no-one around to whom I could exclaim: Look! Look! There really is a lighthouse.

It was not a lighthouse like the one in your head. It looked a bit like a prop from a Dr Who episode of the 1960s, or perhaps some construction which had been assembled from assorted parts of IKEA flat-packs. But it was a lighthouse, beyond all doubt. I sat down and drew it.

It was hard to find somewhere to sit down so that I could be sure that my art supplies were not going to take an impromptu roll down the slope and into the sea. There were a selection of rocks, none at quite the right angle. I chose the safest, and drew my picture.

Then I packed up my things and started on the long trek back.

That evening a friend produced a useful coastal navigation guide, which informed me that this lighthouse was: “Fl.WRG8s16m9-6M”. We decoded this as: Flashing, White Red and Green, with an 8 second repeat, 16 metres above sea level, visible 6-9 nautical miles out at sea, on a good day. Anyone who is more familiar with the notation, please correct me if I have this wrong. I also found a map online.

5 thoughts on “Shetland: walk to the lighthouse”

  1. Hello Sarah – thank you so much! I was thrilled to find this lighthouse way out there on its own, and there was no-one with whom I could celebrate it. So I’m delighted to discover another lighthouse-appreciator. Thank you for your comment. Your website is amazing! What a wonderful project.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jane, I’ve just come across this post. It’s absolutely fantastic and I love the sketch of the lighthouse. I am quite a fan of this type of lighthouse and I was so pleased to see you happily describe it as a lighthouse (so many say these aren’t “proper” lighthouses)! I also love the IKEA mention. I have called them ‘flat-pack’ lighthouses for a number of years and I know a couple of others call them IKEA boxes. Thanks so much for posting this great write-up and pictures. Sarah Kerr

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jane, what a fantastic time you’ve had in Shetland’s and I loved this discovery of the lighthouse. How rewarding 🙂 …. thanks again for all the lovely water colours and for sharing then with us. Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Paul! I’m so glad you enjoyed the pictures and stories. I’m back in London now, so the next episodes will be urban! Hope you and your family are well.


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