The Old Light is an icon of Lundy: in lesser places “photo opportunities” are signposted, but no such tackiness is necessary on the Island as a whole, and certainly this particular landmark screams the need for a picture. I am, of course, particularly attached as I lived here for all my time on the Island. Walks back home after working in the Marisco Tavern could be breathtaking, either because of the harsh westerlies that punched the breath from your lungs. Or the thick fog that confused your every step. But more often than not, it was the breathtaking beauty of standing here on a moonlit night, the sea flat, seeing the distant lights of the mainland, with a feeling that you were the only one in the world. Certainly, the most fortunate.
And then in the daytime, the sheer beauty of this granite monument to 19th Century architecture forcefully grabs all the light and energy of the sun, and becomes the ultimate lighthouse, as it demands all attention, all the while shouting its very existence.. No photograph can do justice to the thousands of colours that shoot from the stone in the finest of detail. You need to see it.
It was the fact that Lundy has always provided hazardous sailing: and for the ports of Bristol, Bideford and Barnstaple, navigating past Lundy was unavoidable. There are hundreds of wrecks that surround the Island, and at a time that the aforementioned ports were at their zenith, the Island and its waters was a major obstacle.
Built in 1819, the lighthouse immediately showed its weakness. The light was just too high, and in the mists and storms, the light was not visible. Countless efforts were made to improve its performance: the actual light was dropped firstly to about two-thirds height, an finally to ground level. In 1869 , the effort was bolstered by the building of the Battery, but the solution was obvious. In 1897, the North and South Lights were built and the Old Light was decommissioned.
The North Light as viewed from the sea