Dessie Robinson is a born story-teller, and his time spent as a warden on the Calf of Man was the basis for many a tale about people, places and things associated in one way or another with the history and natural history in and around the Calf.
With his ready wit and fund of stories, Dessie gave us a very entertaining afternoon which explored the wildlife of the Calf, particularly the birds and the work of the wardens in ringing and recording species, but showing how the Calf is also very much a built environment, with its extensive farmhouse and stone walls, and in particular the lighthouses. Manx lighthouses come under the Northern Lighthouse Board, and two lighthouses on the Calf date back to 1818 and the well-known Stevenson family, who also built the lighthouse at the Point of Ayre. The two lighthouses they built on the Calf of Man, one on a higher level than the other, line up to warn of the Chicken Rock, which Dessie also showed us, on which a lighthouse was built to replace the two on the Calf in 1875.
As well as Dessie’s work on the Calf, he had plenty of opportunity to ramble and to explore, so he showed us the mechanical gubbins which made the warden’s life possible on the Calf, but also signs of ‘lazy beds’ from earlier agriculture activity as well as some of the caves and inlets and rock formations around the five miles of the Calf’s coastline.
An excellent way to spend the afternoon, so grateful thanks to Dessie, who also brought along various books and artifacts to look at – gura mie mooar ayd, ghooinney!