By Sharma Krauskopf
This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.
The sun is shining brilliantly on the waters of Loch Ryan as I peek out the B & B window. It really did not seem possible this is Scotland in October since the weather has been fair. Yesterday a representative of the publisher of my book on Scottish Lighthouses, Robert Blackwell, and I visited all the lighthouses south of Stranraer. Today we are heading into Northern Galloway to find a boat to Ailsa Craig lighthouses and then on to inspect Turnberry lighthouse. Visiting Turnberry Golf Course for shortbread and coffee has been a tradition with me ever since my first visit to Stranraer four years ago. This is the first time I will attempt to get close to the lighthouse. (Graphic on the left showing Ailsa Craig on the horizon and Turnberry Lighthouse and Golf Course is by Robert Watson, via Wikimedia) The lighthouse lies behind the golf course. I have always been afraid I would be kicked off of the golf course trying to get to it. I am more positive this time about inspecting the lighthouse since I have permission from the Northern Lighthouse Board to visit the station.
Coffee and Shortbread at Turnberry
Driving north discussing the beautiful weather, I study the map endeavoring to figure out how you navigate through Turnberry Golf Course to the Lighthouse. There is a small road shown on the map but it goes directly through the course. After much discussion we decide we will just have to ask and hope someone will grant permission for us to visit the lighthouse. I had not thought to get written permission to visit the light so they will just have to believe us.
Finding no access to Ailsa Craig at Girvan since the tourist season is over, I cheerfully announce, "Well, that will give us more time to have coffee and shortbread at Turnberry."
Turnberry Golf Course is an elegant and beautiful place. I do not play golf but I might just take it up to wander around the beautiful grounds of Turnberry. The hotel facility is magnificent. The second you enter you sense you should be wearing an evening gown instead of jeans and a sweatshirt. Never having been shy, we stroll in. My last visit I had purchased a beautiful shirt for half price at the gift shop so first we check to see if they have any bargains. But, alas not this time. The sweatshirt I want is $80! So much for that, we head for the dining room. Three sides of the dining room are windows looking out over the golf course to the sea, Ailsa Craig, and Isle of Arran in the distance. I always select a table that allows me to face the lighthouse. It is so stunning with the green links in front of it. As we enter, Rob overhears someone remark they have just gotten Michael Douglas's autograph along with two other stars. We start watching everyone who comes in hoping to see someone famous. The week before a celebrity/pro tournament had been held at St. Andrews. The participants must be making the rounds of the great Scottish courses. No wonder we saw three helicopters sitting at the edge of the course as we drove up.
We order coffee and the shortbread while we still discuss how to get out to the lighthouse. We have not seen the road marked on the map. When the waiter brings our order, I finally get enough nerve to tell him I have permission to visit the lighthouse but we not know how to get to it. Without delay he gives directions and reminds us the lighthouse building is closed. We assure him we only want to get near to take pictures. I am amazed how easy it is to achieve something dreamed about for years.
After we finish our coffee and biscuits I use all of my will power in avoid the gift shop. It easier since we are off to the lighthouse. The road is not easy to find. Once we find it is just a short drive to the car park. Now, we must walk across the golf course to reach the lighthouse. Boosting our courage we begin the frightening traverse. It does not help to know the golfers hitting balls toward us are pros or celebrities. We manage without injury to reach a small modern building standing just outside the lighthouse gate. What is this building? Seeing a golfer coming out with a pint of stout gave the answer. It is a bar so the golfers can get a drink on the back side of the course. Why not after all this is Turnberry!
Turnberry Lighthouse is beautifully set but sadly neglected. (Picture here is by Mary and Angus Hogg, via Wikimedia). Most windows are covered with boards. The piles of rubble surrounding the building, we guess must be coming from the inside through the windows left open. We can only imagine what condition the lighthouse's inside must be. A sad contrast to the elegant Golf Course and its buildings. Depressed I sit on the grass inside the keeper's walled garden where I can only see the lighthouse and hear the sea. Suddenly I find myself in peace and serenity forgetting the golf course with all of its riches. I watch the clouds drift by the tower and think of another time when I had a wine and cheese picnic with a special friend at a very remote lighthouse. Protected inside the garden Rob and I are alone with the beautiful lighthouse, the sea and the past.
Wanting to go into Ayr to see if we could find an Ordnance Survey map on the lighthouse I am consider buying in Northern Scotland we leave the tranquility of the garden. Once again we begin the life threatening walk across the golf course. Suddenly Rob draws my attention to someone who is driving a ball our way. Stopping we wait until the golfer is finished and before walking again. As the golfer approaches and greets us I have the feeling I've seen him before. I know he is a movie star. Rob agrees but we cannot remember his name. It was not until later that night that we realize the man who was so friendly was Morgan Freeman, a well-known actor. (Graphic of Morgan Freeman via Wikimedia). I do not know why it surprised me so much to see him, after all we were on the world famous Turnberry Golf Course.
The answer to why I was surprised is easy. For me Turnberry is not thought of as a golf course. In my mind it is only the home of the best coffee and shortbread in Southwest Scotland and the appalling place where a beautiful lighthouse is being allowed to die surrounded by opulence.
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