Sunday, November 11, 2007

I can see for miles and miles

"The Eiffel tower and the Taj Mahal are mine to see on clear days
You thought that I would need a crystal ball to see right through the haze"

The Who

Winter arrived in Scotland today with a blast of cold, clear Arctic air. The distant coast of Ireland could be seen from the Ayrshire coast, behind the great bulk of Ailsa Craig, which rises like a sentinel at the entrance to the Firth of Clyde.

Ailsa Craig is also known as Paddy's Milestone as it is half way between Belfast and Glasgow. This was a boat journey taken by many Irish people who sought work in Scotland following the potato famine.

It is the plug of a huge volcano that was active about 500 million years ago. The ash and lava of its cone have been eroded away by glaciers during successive Ice Ages.

In 1772 Thomas Pennant visited Ailsa Craig during a spell of calm, hot weather while he was en route from Brodick to Campbeltown. He wrote "and what is wonderful, throstles (thrushes) exerted the same melody in this scene of horror as they do in the groves of Hertfordshire".

Every four seconds a flash of white light, quite insignificant against the sunset, betrayed the position of the Ailsa lighthouse. It was built in 1886 by Thomas and David A Stevenson.