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Issue 81 - Light on the Land

Scotland Magazine Issue 81
June 2015

 

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Light on the Land

Keith Fergus and the many facets of Turnberry

Occupying a spectacular position above Turnberry Point, on the beautiful yet under-rated Ayrshire Coast, the whitewashed walls of Turnberry Lighthouse can be seen for many miles.

Over the centuries, Bristo Rock, just off the shore at Turnberry, had seen its fair share of shipwrecks and, because of the ruggedness of the Ayrshire coastline, a lighthouse was required.

Building on Bristo Rock was deemed unsafe and so Turnberry Lighthouse was erected in 1873 on Turnberry Point to the plans of pioneering lighthouse designer Thomas Stevenson (father of the author Robert Louis Stevenson). It was built on the site of the former Turnberry Castle, the remains of which can still be seen.

Robert the Bruce’s father owned Turnberry Castle and some sources contend that it was the birthplace of the future king in 1274 and it is thought that he spent his childhood here.

Turnberry Lighthouse also stands guard over Turnberry Golf Course, which has borne witness to some of the Open Golf Championships most memorable moments, not least the 1977 ‘Duel in the Sun’ between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.

Beyond Turnberry rises the distinctive lump of Ailsa Craig. It climbs sharply to over 1,100ft in height, and has a diameter of around one mile. The island is renowned worldwide for its quality of granite used in the production of curling stones. Quarrying has now ceased but pieces of granite are still taken from the island to be used for curling stones, the manufacture of which takes place in the Ayrshire village of Mauchline.