Saturday, April 24, 2010

Oa what a beautiful morning, Oa what a beautiful day!

We drove off the ferry and parked a short way along the broad sweep of Traigh Gheighsgeir, the white sand beach on Port Ellen's NW shore.

We were on the water by 10:07. In the background the White Hart Hotel reminded me of an incident when we were unable to purchase an Islay Malt in a licensed premises on the island!

No sooner were we on the water than a downpour of cold sleety rain fell from a darkening sky. The forecast wall to wall winter sun bore little relationship to the actual weather here on the Oa!

Our first way point was the Carraig Fhada lighthouse which guards the entrance to Kilnaughton Bay. As you can probably tell from the architecture, this is not a Stevenson lighthouse. It was built by David Hamilton and Son in 1832. It was taken over by the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1924. From the SE, the correct approach shows a white sector which is flanked by red and green sectors. The light flashes every 3 seconds.

Beyond the light, headland after headland disappeared into the greyness of the day and towards the Mull of Oa.

The Laird of Islay, Walter Campbell commissioned the lighthouse in 1832 in memory of his wife, Lady Eleanor Charteris, who died that year when she was only 36.

Walter had this poem about Eleanor inscribed in a large plaque above the lighthouse door:

Ye who mid storms and tempests stray in
dangers midnight hour.
Behold where shines this friendly ray and
hail its guardian tower.

Tis but faint emblem of her light my fond
and faithful guide.
Whose sweet example meekin bright led
through this worlds eventful tide my happy course aright.

And still my guiding star she lives in realms
of bliss above.
Still to my heart blest influence gives and
prompts to deeds of love.

Tis she that bids me on the steep kindle this
beacons flame.
To light the wanderer o`er the deep who safe
shall bless her name.

So may sweet virtue lead your way that
when life`s voyage is o`er.
Secure like her with her you may attain the
heavenly shore.

We were quite anxious not to encounter storms and tempests on our trip round the Oa!