So recently my lovely husband posted a photo of Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse and mentioned that it was haunted! When I read that, my first reaction was ‘no it’s not!’. My second reaction was that I thought I’d written to you all about it, but I can’t find that blog. I think I missed that one out, so what a good opportunity to remedy that one!
I love lighthouses. There’s something extremely romantic about the windswept coastline, ships struggling to get in through the treacherous reef, and the lighthouse saving their skin. Gibb’s lighthouse is really huge; in fact, one hundred and seventeen feet from the base to the light. That’s eight floors equalling one hundred and eighty-five steps. Don’t worry, if you visit and you’re not very fit, there’s plenty of resting platforms between flights. There’s also lots of reading material, so even if you’re not interested you can pretend to read, everything, while you get your breath back. It’s much easier going back down, a deserved reward for making it all the way up.
The lighthouse is situated at the ‘hook’ end of the island, in Southampton Parish. I’ll pop a photo of the map in for you to check that out. They began construction in 1844, and it first lit up the night sky two years later in May 1846. It was originally put in place because there had been numerous wrecks off the coastline where the reef goes out sixteen miles. From what I’ve read steel wasn’t able to be bent then, so it’s one of the few lighthouses made completely of cast iron. From what I could see, is also wooden at the very top. When it started operating the light was run on kerosene, but that was later changed to electricity in 1952. They kept kerosene available though until the mid 1960’s because of frequent power cuts. We still have power cuts now in Bermuda, but usually with the high winds during tropical depressions and hurricanes. The light is one thousand Watts, and shines forty miles out to sea, flashing once every ten seconds, and making a complete rotation every fifty seconds. Planes flying in can spot it up to one hundred and twenty miles away, if they’re travelling at ten thousand feet. On a clear night we can see it from the other end of the Island, which is about twenty miles away.
So if you visit keep in mind that the lighthouse is closed for February each year. There is a restaurant and a gift shop attached which close quite early so best to go for lunch or afternoon tea if you want a meal. There is a small charge to go up the lighthouse, and it’s a self-directed tour. Buy the tickets at the gift shop. Climb up the lighthouse to the very top, then try to be brave enough to go up the little ladder to the viewing platform outside. You will be rewarded by a three hundred and sixty degree view of Bermuda, which is stunning. My lovely husband wasn’t too keen to climb the rickety ladder, but I’m like a mountain goat, so it’s no trouble for me. I don’t think I’d like to be out there on a windy day though!
Now I hear you thinking, ‘what about the haunted bit?’ Hmmm. Well the story goes that the lighthouse keeper (don’t ask me when, but it hasn’t had one for a while, because it’s now fully automated, and electronically controlled) went up the light house to check on the light with his dog. The dog kept growling and growling at something down the stairs, and sure enough the lighthouse keeper thought he heard footsteps. It’s quite echoey in there, so it would be hard to mistake those. He was expectant to meet someone on the stairs, but even though his dog was quite agitated, didn’t. When he got back down to the bottom again, he realised that he had indeed locked the door. So, the visitor either had their own key, which was impossible because there was only one, or it was his over-active imagination in the dead of night. But the dog thought otherwise.
I’ll leave you to ponder that mystery!
More soon – Sally
Here are the references I used to help me get my facts right, and you can look these up to if you would like:
P.S. There’s still no sign of George, but a few Jamaican anole’s have been about, so fingers crossed he’s okay!
Lighthouses are indeed (or seem to be) romantic places.
A wee bit of trivia that as a writer and connoisseur of lighhouses you may already know: the family Robert Louis Stevenson came from (his Stevenson uncles I think), designed and built all the lighthouses around the coast of Scotland.
Enjoying your blog and photos, feel I’m beginning to know Bermuda a little bit!
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Ah but to know the real Bermuda, you may have to come and visit Dianne!
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