Sumburgh Head opening for 2015 season with a blast from the past
by Kirsty Halcrow -
Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve will open its doors for an extended visitor season on Wednesday 1 April. To mark the occasion, the recently restored forghorn will sound its distinctive seven second blast every 90 seconds from 12noon.
The foghorn was sounded for the first time in almost 30 years in February, following extensive restoration of the horn itself, and the engines which generate the air pressure required to make the sound. It is a sound many will remember from their childhood.
The Lighthouse Buildings will open from 11.00am where visitors can purchase their season tickets for entry into the Engine Room, Smiddy and Marine Life Centre. Here they will take an interesting and interactive journey through the history of Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Keepers and their families, and the extensive array of flora and fauna to be found on and around the cliffs at the Head. The season ticket allows unlimited entry for the full summer season.
Opening hours and dates have been extended this year from 11.00am to 5.30pm daily from 1 April to 30 September. Additional late night openings will be announced during the summer through the website at www.sumburghhead.com and through the Facebook page.
Tours inside the Lighthouse Tower will also be available during this summer, with access being granted by the Northern Lighthouse Board who still maintain the tower as an operating Lighthouse. Visitors will have a chance to climb the spiral stair inside the tower and view the powerful mechanism which turns the mighty Fresnel lens, which stands over eight feet high.
A range of events will be held at Sumburgh Head during the summer, including talks and presentations from the Artists-in-residence, nature drawing classes during the Shetland Nature Festival and Anniversary talks by Chris Dyer as we approach the 75th anniversary of the Radar Hut thwarting the German air raid on Scapa Flow on 8 Aptil 1940.
Sumburgh Head staff will work alongside colleagues from RSPB Scotland to deliver informative tours on the wildlife, focussing on the Puffins, Fulmars, Guillemots and other feathered favourites. Activity sheets for younger visitors can be downloaded from the website prior to visiting, or picked up in the Gift Shop.