Go Golf Cart!

In order to avoid walking a lot, we had made arrangements to rent a golf cart for three of our days on Scilly.  Unfortunately, we did not have a place to charge the battery at the bed and breakfast so that meant we had to take the cart back to Scilly Carts every evening by 5:30.  OK, it’s doable and it means we can get around the island without walking as much.  We thought.

At our breakfast this morning, a boatman came in to tell us what boats were running today.  Everything is dependent on the weather and tides and such.  So some cruises around the islands or even to neighboring islands are not always possible.  Today he said there was a 10:15 cruise out to the Western Isles and to Bishop’s Lighthouse.  That had been one of my places I’d marked that we wanted to visit.   So we’ll have to get to the quay and get tickets.  But first, we have to go pick up our golf cart

Bishops lighthouse

Bishops lighthouse



The golf cart people told me that we needed to be there well before 10 or they would give away our golf cart if they had a lot of people wanting them.  So we called and said we were on the way.  Looks to be about a mile from the BnB and we had to stop and ask for directions once.  Not sure how long it would take me to walk a mile so we left shortly after 9.  Down the hill, through the town, along the beach, back up another hill, down another hill, and there we were!  Lots of carts.  We both signed up to drive, paid our money, and he assured us that the charge on our battery would last approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes OR we could drive about 21 miles.  Since there are only 7 miles of road on St. Mary’s we could circle the island 3 times.  The biggest problem with the golf carts is finding a place to park.  There is no parking on the High Street.  You can’t park on the pavement and you can’t take the cart off the pavement onto any of the foot paths or dirt/gravel roads.  OK, we’ll manage.  He did show us some photos of people who have managed to park in ways to get themselves towed, such as up against the ATM machine so that no one could get to it, in the middle of a restaurant path so no one could pass, and so forth.  You can’t drive on the quay with them either as people don’t realize how fast they can back up and more than one person has ended up buying a golf cart after they’ve backed it into the harbor.

We drove back into Hugh Town and parked at the first beach where there was a car in front of us parking.  We checked with them to make sure it was OK to leave the cart there and then headed for the quay to get our tickets for Bishop’s Lighthouse

bishops lighthouse

bishops lighthouse



Not quite a full boat but enough that once we sat down on the right hand side of the boat (we were on the left last night for the gig races and thought we’d change to the right side today – mistake!), we wouldn’t be able to move back and forth to the other side.   The boat goes over to St. Agnes first and drops off some people going to the beach and such.  They all have beach umbrellas and chairs and buckets and all kinds of stuff for their day in the sand.  Then we head on out to the Western Isles to see seals and anything else and Bishop’s Lighthouse.

Realized we were on the wrong side again because the wheel is more towards the left on these boats so the skipper is looking to the left to find things.  He found a sunfish swimming near the surface.  I love sunfish!!!   They are so bizarre and I’ve only ever seen one in Dubai in the aquarium.  I so wanted to see it but there were too many people blocking my view.   The sunfish didn’t hang around long and then he spotted another one.  But again, I couldn’t get a view.  dang it.

He pulled up alongside some rocks where there were seals in the water and again they were on the left side and we were on the right side.  pooey.  But he did turn the boat several times for us to be able to see the seals and also a floating raft of shags (a lot of birds in the water together making it look almost solid).  Then we are passing out of the relative calm of being inside the Isles and out into the actual Atlantic

View from ancient ruins

View from ancient ruins


.  The waves are definitely more choppy and it’s more windy and rougher riding.

Had we been out there too much longer, there might have been a few seasick people but it was a relative short trip.  You can see Bishop’s Lighthouse standing on the horizon and as you get close, it gets bigger and taller and bigger and taller.
Here is an entry from the Internet  http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses/lighthouse_list/bishop_rock.html

“”     HistoryBishop Rock Lighthouse stands on a rock ledge 46m long by 16m wide, 4 miles west of the Scilly Isles. The rocks rise sheer from a depth of 45m and are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean making this one of the most hazardous and difficult sites for the building of a lighthouse.

The rocks around the Scilly Isles caused the wreck of many ships over the years including the loss of Sir Cloudesley Shovel’s squadron of the British Fleet in 1707 in which 2,000 men died. The Elder Brethren of Trinity House decided that the lighting of the Scilly Isles, which at that time consisted of only the old lighthouse at St

Halangy Ancient ruins

Halangy Ancient ruins


. Agnes, was inadequate, and resolved to build a lighthouse on the most westerly danger, the Bishop Rock.

James Walker, Engineer in Chief to Trinity House, was against building a solid granite tower arguing that the rock ledge was too small and the elements too powerful, being exposed as it was to the full force of the Atlantic ocean. Walker demonstrated that the wind pressures at times exceeded 7,000 lb per sq.ft, and as many as 30 gales a year were not unusual in the area.

Thus in 1847, it was decided to erect a screw-pile lighthouse at a cost of £12,000. The first task was to sink cast iron legs into the solid granite, braced and stayed with wrought iron rods. The designer maintained that the waves would be able to roll freely among the piles instead of being obstructed by the solid mass of masonry tower. When work was suspended at the end of 1849 the building was complete all but the installation of the lighting apparatus. Before it could be completed the following season, a heavy gale swept away the whole structure on the evening of 5th February 1850.

Undismayed by the failure of the first lighthouse, James Walker once again turned to the idea of a granite tower based upon Smeaton’s Eddystone

Bant's carn burial chamber

Bant’s carn burial chamber


. After surveying the site, he finally chose a small but solid mass giving room for a base 10m in diameter. The surface waves constantly swept over the site, and indeed the lowest blocks had to be laid a third of a metre beneath low water mark. A heavy coffer dam was erected around the site and the water within pumped out, so that the masons might be able to work on a dry rock face. Each granite block, weighing from one to two tons, was set into its preselected position, and each course dovetailed and keyed into position at the sides, top and the bottom thus forming an immovable mass. The workmen were housed on a small nearby uninhabited islet, where living quarters and workshops were erected. The men were carried to and from the site as the weather permitted. Working spells were brief, as well as being few and far between, and after seven years labour the tower was finally completed. All the granite was despatched from the mainland to the island depot where it was shaped and numbered before being sent to the rock. In all the 35 m tower contained 2,500 tons of dressed granite and cost £34,560. The light was first exhibited on 1st September 1858. During one particularly powerful storm, waves rolled up on the side of the lighthouse and tore away the 550lb fog bell from its fastenings on the gallery.

In 1881 Sir James Douglass made a detailed inspection of the tower and reported extensive damage and weakness in the structure. It was decided to strengthen the tower and at the same time to increase the elevation of the light by 12m. The plans, though quite complex in nature essentially entailed the building of a new lighthouse around the old one, completely encasing it. The real weakness was the foundation and this Douglass proposed to strengthen and enlarge with massive blocks of granite sunk into the rock and held there by heavy bolts. It was an enormous cylindrical base, providing the lighthouse with an excellent buffer onto which the force of the waves could be spent before hitting the tower itself. The masonry casing, averaging a metre in thickness, was carried up as far as the new masonry required for the increased height of the light. The weight of the additional granite was 3,200 tons, making a total weight of 5,700 tons. Work was completed in October 1887 at a cost of £66,000.

Bishop Rock was converted to automatic operation during 1991 with the last keepers leaving the lighthouse on 21 December 1992.

The fog signal was discontinued on 13 June 2007.”””Our skipper told us that during rough seas, the water will wash over the top of the lighthouse.  amazing.  What’s great is we recognized the lighthouse!!!  We’ve seen it many times on BBC One during their open sequences where they have some fashion of a big O.  This is the lighthouse where the helicopter lands on it and takes off again.  sooooo cool.

There didn’t seem to really be a way to get into the lighthouse except climbing up a vertical ladder on the side to the door which had to be at least 20-30 feet up the side.  Lighthouses are just amazing and I am so glad we got to go see this one.

Back to St. Mary’s and we stopped for lunch and then made our reservation for dinner at Mr. B’s, a steakhouse in town.  Then back to our Scilly Cart and we were away for the north end of the island.  We’ve been told that the Isles of Scilly have the most burial cairns than anywhere else so we’re off to see some.   We have the map from the cart company and it shows how to get there which basically means go to the end of the road, park on the side off the road, and walk.  Can’t get lost.

Following the instructions we drove past a duck pond, past several lovely looking craft shops and came to the Coast Guard Tower on top of the hill at the north end of the island.  Here was a place to park so we did and walked to where we thought the path would be.  We made one slight error and ended up walking across the golf course for a bit before we decided we had missed a turn.   Yep, we had and once we followed it, came right out at the burial chamber and the ancient village ruins.

Two kids had claimed the burial chamber as their play area for the afternoon.   We were trying to get some photos without them in the middle of the chamber.  The small girl went over to her grandmother and started crying that we were taking her chamber.  Luckily grandma knew just how to calm her down and we thanked her for letting us see “her chamber” and everyone was happy again.  Then we went down the hill to see the ancient village ruins.  very good sites and just incredible views out to sea.  We could recognize Tresco from where we stood and later learned that the other large island we were looking at was Samson.  Just magnificent scenery.

Back to our cart and we continued on around the road.  There was also a standing stone somewhere but I was pretty beat on my knees and so we just drove around the island and learned where everything was located.  Finally I get dropped off at our BnB and just have to navigate up the stairs rather than the hill as well and poor hubby has to go drop off the golf cart on his own and walk back by himself.  What a man!

Rest and relax time with the feet up then over to Mr. B’s for dinner.  What an odd place.  Our hostess at our BnB said it had just opened not long before and had been a variety of different eateries prior to Mr. B’s.  It’s odd in that you walk down to the cellar level to get to the bar and entrance.  They are happy to serve you a drink there and you wait for your table.  When your table is ready, you walk upstairs to street level again (but inside the restaurant) and carry your drink with you.  As my knees are really unhappy by now, they had to carry my drink for me so I could haul myself up the stairs.

Mr. B’s had some good steak but the sides that went with it were pretty miserable.  Who serves mashed potatoes with absolutely no seasoning and no butter and no anything?  Maybe that’s typical British but not from any mash we have had before here in England.  hmmm.  When we were finished, we had to go back downstairs to the cellar/bar and then climb back upstairs to leave.   Seemed a bit pretentious and oddly inefficient to me.     There was a street level door but it wasn’t being used.

So back up the hill, back up the stairs, and to our room for another good night’s sleep.  We are not in a sea view room because I asked too late so we don’t have much of a view.  The neighbors are quite yacky until about 9 p.m and then it gets blessedly quiet.  Never heard a noise all night and the windows were always open.   We are supposed to be able to see lovely stars and the Milky Way from here but the cloud cover never lifted the whole time we were on Scilly.  We saw one star one night and about 20 stars another night and that was it.


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