The highest point on the island is not a hilltop – even though Bermuda is a volcanic sea mountain – but a lighthouse!
Measuring 177 feet, the Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse sits on top of a 245 feet high hill, providing those adventurous enough to climb its 185 steps with breathtaking views of the island.
Located in Southampton parish, it is reportedly the world’s oldest cast iron lighthouse. Because steel was not yet available to be used for construction when it was built in 1846, it is also one of the few of its type still in service. The purpose of this lighthouse was to try and reduce the number of wreckage in the parishes waters: in the previous decade, 39 vessels crashed on the reefs that goes up top 16 miles out to sea at the western tip of the island.
The beam of a 1000-watt bulb can be seen by ships up to 40 miles out to sea, planes can spot it while flying at 10,000 feet and 120 miles away, and finally the light can be seen on the horizon 26 miles away. The lens – the same since 1904 – that contains the bulb does a revolution each 50 seconds, meaning the lighthouse emits a 2-second flash each 10 seconds. The light was first produced by four circular wicks in a burner, replaced by a five-wick one in 1904 before electricity took over in 1952.
The Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse is a must-see for many people at Trip Advisor where it figures in the top five of Bermuda attractions:
“If you have time for only one attraction in Bermuda besides the beaches, this has to be it. The reason? Others have said already: the views.”
Indeed, the views from the top of the lighthouse are just about the best you can get in Bermuda, except from a plane. A very narrow circular path at the top of the lighthouse gives you a 360o panoramic view of the whole of the island: the South Shore Park, the Royal Naval Dockyard, the city of Hamilton, the beautiful beaches of the parish of Southampton…
Those who can’t or don’t want to make it to the top, there is a spot where you can see the Great Sound on the way to the lighthouse,. It is called Queen’s View, after newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II stopped there in 1953.
The walk to the top of the hill can prove tiring for some, especially in the warm days of summer. Fortunately, there is a charming little tea-room at the bottom of the lighthouse where you can get your breath back before the ascent of the 185 steps. Or after, while you recovering from the breathtaking views and get ready to see more of our beautiful island.
Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, Southampton – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles ‘Things To Do’ in Bermuda series!
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