Crystal Clear Lundy Light

Posted on December 5, 2016


“Light years from here, We’re going to burn up in the atmosphere. It’s crystal clear, We’re coming swinging on a chandelier.” Lieutenant J. H. Dathan, HMS Montagu 1906 * (see below).

We were all prepared for a stormy visit to the island on the the last trip of the year. Late November last year was wet, wet, wet and with this in mind a week long stay at Tibbetts should yield at least a few good days to get out and explore the north end. To the delight of everyone a high pressure system dominated the weather for our stay; providing clear blue skies by day and diamond sparkling starry nights.

Lucky, lucky, lucky? Maybe, but this trip cancels out our February trip when we were blown off the island by storm Imogen, full chronicle here.

Here’s some of the first edit, please view on a big screen where you can click on the pic and make it bic.

  1. View from the back seat.


2. Supplies.


3. Old light sunset from Tibbetts.


4. Tibbetts sunrise.


5. Lundy village and farm.


6. Bye DaveO.


7. Inside the Lookout.


8. Sunrise over the gate.


9. Tibbetts sunrise November 30th 2016.


10. Visitor.


11. Mornin’.


12. Highland cattle on the doorstep.


13. Two minute beach clean, Landing beach.


14. Sunset glow.


15. North end.


16. No signal: Bliss.


17. Old light sunset.


18. Old light sunset 2.


19. Candle holder.


20. Foggy Thursday.


21. Foggy Thursday 2.


22. Old light, Thursday 1st December 2016.


23. Old light coast.


24. Montagu Steps.


25. Dreamy crystal gin palace; Tibbetts.



* HMS Montagu was a Royal Navy (pre-dreadnought) steamship; a battleship with a crew of 720 officers and men. Costing over £1m and built in Devonport it was launched in 1901 and wrecked off  Lundy just five years later. Its demise was a  comedy catastrophe on the Titanic scale: In May 1906 in thick fog, she was wrecked on the south-west corner of the island, on Shutter Rock, fortunately without loss of life. The wrecking of one of its newest & costliest battleships was a big blow to the Royal Navy, as it entered the early stages of a naval arms race with Germany.

At 0200 hours on 30 May 1906 during radio communication trials carried out in thick fog, Montagu was steaming at high speed up the Bristol Channel when she ran aground. The force of impact was so great that her foremast was raked forward. The ship settled hard aground, with many holes in her hull, the worst of which was a 91-foot (28 m) long gash in her starboard side.

A pilot cutter cruising in the vicinity of Lundy had encountered Montagu a short time earlier and the battleship had stopped engines, come abreast, and hailed from the bridge requesting a distance and bearing for Hartland Point. Though the cutter supplied these accurately, the voice from the battleships bridge replied that they must be wrong and that the pilot cutter must have lost her bearings. As Montagu restarted her engines and began to move ahead, the cutter shouted back that on her present course Montagu would be on Shutter Rock within ten minutes, and a short time later the sound of the battleship running aground carried through the fog. Um, told you.

The battleships captain, believing Montagu was aground at Hartland Point, sent a party on a rowing boat to the north, instructing them to contact the Hartland Point Lighthouse. They instead got to the North light on Lundy, where officers asked the lighthouse keeper to inform the British Admiralty that they were aground south of Hartland Point. An argument ensued with the keeper over where they were until he pointed out he knew what lighthouse he kept.

The court martial was a typical posh boy whitewash and blamed the wreck on the thick fog and faulty navigation equipment although her commanding officer, Thomas B. S. Adair, and navigating officer, Lieutenant J. H. Dathan, were severely reprimanded and “dismissed the ship” (sic), with Dathan losing two years’ seniority. Wow.

The ‘salvage’ attempts continued in a similar vein of comedy and ineptitude; there didnt seem to be an expertise of how to re-floating such a big ship. Her sister ship, Duncan, ran aground trying to help during the episode, however,  the ship was lightened by the removal some weight. Her 12-inch (305 mm) and 6-inch (152 mm) guns, heavy machinery, parts of her boilers, heavy fittings, and some of her bow armour was taken off but by 1907, Montagu was in such bad shape that any hope of salvaging her was abandoned. The Western Marine Salvage Company of Penzance completed break up of the wreck for scrap metal over the next 15 years.

Although diving clubs still visit the site of Montagus wreck, all that remains there is armour plate plus a few live 12-inch shells on the sea bed. Four wooden panels from the captain’s cabin are displayed in the Ilfracombe museum.

The Montagu Steps, which subsequently appeared on OS maps, were constructed adjacent to the wreck during the salvage.

Canon 5d mk3 w/ EF 24-70mm f2.8 L ll, 15mm f2.8 fisheye & 100mm f2

Other Lundy trips this year:

Posted in: Lundy