“The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live” Richard Jefferies
It’s a good time in life. We are fortunately not sick by the Covid 19 virus and gratefully we have all we need to have a good life. So, we thought today morning, that we must re-savour some moments of our past and nourish our heart and minds with some beautiful memories of our travels. On many of these journeys we have found ourselves driving long distances and travelling miles to see lighthouses because I always find them intriguing. When I was 8 years old, I travelled on a long trip to Gujarat with my parents. Faintly, I remember we had gone to places such as Okha & Dwarka and somewhere there I must have seen the first glimpses of a lighthouse. Those childhood memories resided within me and when we started travelling in earnest around 10 years ago, we made it a point to visit as many lighthouses we could.
Over the years we visited and photographed lighthouses from Canada to Thailand and from Scotland to New Zealand and soaked in the serene atmospheres within which they are built. There are 3 specific things that make us find these lighthouses very appealing. The first is their remoteness that brings in solitude. The roads that lead to them are usually isolated with hardly any human or vehicular traffic around them. Then it’s the silence around them. A peaceful calmness that is interrupted by the noise of the waves gushing into the shores and the excited birds chirping and yelling at the sight of abundant food. And after these mellifluous intervals, silence engulfs the zone again.
Silence! It’s so surprising that when the soul is at peace no words are needed from the outside. You just have to close your eyes and hear yourself breathe. The intoxication of the fresh air, the dramatic humming of the water and the gentle caress of the ocean breeze. The mellow sunshine on the skin and the soothing views of the landscapes around. It’s music. It’s art. It’s poetry. Its love. It’s a fertile awakening that is so addicting! I never want to be cured of it!
And, lastly, lighthouses themselves are a symbol of what we should all be. Sturdy and robust, a beacon of hope for many intrepid travellers; always doing their job in the face of adversity.
Before the development of clearly defined ports, mariners were guided by fires built on hilltops. Since elevating the fire would improve the visibility, placing the fire on a platform became a practice that led to the development of the lighthouse. Once widely used, the number of operational lighthouses today has declined due to the expense of maintenance. They have become uneconomical since the advent of cheaper and often much more effective electronic navigational systems. However, the ones that are still standing are beautiful in their own way as they gracefully age, their beauty seems eternal.
Oban, is a small town in Scotland from where we took a ferry to the Isle of Mull. From the deck of our boat we saw this beautiful lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. It was freezing cold and cloudy that morning and we remember standing on the deck of the ship struggling to take this picture.
From Dublin we went to Dun Laoghaire where we saw this beautiful lighthouse. The sunsets and sunrises add to the beauty of these and it is truly a great photography experience to shoot these is the golden hours.
Dun Laoghaire, Ireland
And then as we drove around southern Ireland and the Ring of Kerry, to Killerney and through the entire coast of Ireland. Here we came across this one in the middle of a violent sea scape. We spent almost an hour soaking in the drama of this scene. With the tripod and the ND 10 filter, we tried to capture the motion in its slowest form, but the wind made this one a tough one to capture.
New Zealand has some amazing lighthouse scenery. On its north-eastern front is the East Cape lighthouse. It is remotely situated and has some 400 steps that need to be climbed onto. We had to coax and bribe our kids to climb these and they did it eventually. At the top we found the most stunning scenes around this beautiful light house. It bought us to a standstill and we all felt a lot of calm in this one. We spent a couple of hours here just sitting on the edge and looking at the Ocean.
Another wonderful experience was at the Nugget Point Light house in Otago peninsula in southern NZ. This one is in absolute wilderness and has a truly isolated ocean drive to help you reach there. Perched at the top of a hill, it overlooks a stunning vista of the ocean that surrounds it by 270 degrees and has the entire coastline bejewelled in some amazing rock formations.
One of the memorable lighthouses was this one at the top of a big mountain placed in the heart of southern NZ near Dunedin. The Royal Albatross centre where this one is located is a great place to view the little blue penguins at sunset when they walk into the shore from the ocean. The scenic ocean city drive to this centre was one amazing experience etched in our memory.
In Thailand there is a little place called Khao Lak where we had this lighthouse to ourselves as we stayed two minutes from it. We could shoot this one at sunrise and sunset and in fast and slow shutter speeds allowing us to capture its beauty and essence in these pixels.
On one of our recent trips to Split in Croatia we saw these boats, parked together awaiting their next journey. In the backdrop was a beautiful sunset and somewhere in between these two was a lovely little lighthouse.
Portugal presents some stunning seascapes and lighthouses fencing them. From Porto we drove about 30 minutes to see the sunrise at this beautiful lighthouse. Nestled in the middle of the ocean this one has a long ramp that leads to it. We walked all the way to the base of it and saw the sunrise bringing in a beautiful new day.
In Sintra we visited a stunning lighthouse, the Cabo Da Roca. The lighthouse is situated on top of the mountain, in a cape which forms the westernmost point of mainland Portugal, of continental Europe, and of the Eurasian landmass. It was good feeling to glance at the horizon knowing very well that the next available continent is on the other side of the Atlantic.
On our drive to the Algarve region of Portugal we visited the Lighthouse of Cao De Sao Vicente located at the traditional land’s end of Europe, the extreme south-westernmost point on the continent. This is one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe (the most powerful being Phare du Creach on the French island of Ushant, off the coast of Brittany); its two 1,000 W lamps can be seen as far as 60 km (37 mi) away. While it was fascinating to see this one, the ocean scape around it took our breath away and for once we concentrated more on the waves and cliffs and less on the lighthouse that was pretty crowded with tourists.
In Kusadasi (Turkey), Galle (Sri Lanka) and Vancouver (Canada) we were able to see the light houses within a few minutes from our stay as some of them were perched on the promenade that borders the cities.
Over the years our driving holidays have allowed us to experience various mountain ranges and rivers; seascapes and beaches along with a lot of wilderness and urban landscapes. Amongst all these travel escapades, the lighthouses have stood strong in our memory and beckon us. Someday we will take a trip to an island country and live a few weeks next to a stunning lighthouse. In hope of those days, we wait to get through this lockdown.