A fun sea adventure

Alex Swailes and other Rotarians at the Longstone Lighthouse.
Alex Swailes and other Rotarians at the Longstone Lighthouse.

Morpeth Rotary Club

WHEN 20 club members arrived at Seahouses on a wet and windy Wednesday for a visit to the Longstone Lighthouse, the weather was almost as bad as the night of the great rescue.

They had hoped that the large breakers sweeping into the harbour would mean the boat would be cancelled but instead, the passengers were encouraged to go carefully down the steps and board.

The boat, which was not covered over, was reasonably steady until beyond the harbour wall. It then began to jump around with passengers staggering from side to side and great waves splashing over.

The organiser of the trip was the Morpeth Gadgie, Alex Swailes, who kept morale up by singing Northumbrian songs. The group had an exhilarating ride to the Farnes, where skipper George Shiel and his mate were congratulated for getting them there without loss of life.

Getting off the boat was equally interesting and George went ahead to sprinkle the slippery rocks with sand. It is a wild and exciting place with wonderful views in every direction.

The lighthouse was built in 1826 and is famous for the night when Grace Darling, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, helped her dad to rescue survivors of the wreck of the steamship Forfarshire in 1838.

George has exclusive rights to land on the Longstone and was able to give a guided tour of the lighthouse.

Visitors could climb to the top and look out of the window from where Grace had seen that the ship had run aground.

The family kitchen and bathroom are still in use. Photos were taken of the rocks, the seals and the waves lashing the island, then it was time to go.

The seals surrounded the boat looking hopefully for fish and then they set off, taking the route that Grace and her dad had taken. Looking ahead, the view was of the wonders of the Northumbrian coastline with the outline of Bamburgh Castle and Dunstanburgh.

Thankfully, the wind had dropped a little and there was no need for Alex to sing.

As well as club meetings on Tuesday evenings at Morpeth Golf Club and visits, members also take part in a number of social events.

The next one is the annual bowls competition at Whalton Village Hall on November 7.