New series of Lighthouses: Building The Impossible features Cornwall’s Wolf Rock

Saturday 30th April 2022 4:00 pm
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Picture shows presenter, engineer and adventurer Rob Bell
Picture shows presenter, engineer and adventurer Rob Bell (The Cornish Times )

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THE fascinating TV series Lighthouses: Building The Impossible is returning to Channel 5 for Series 2 this Friday, hosted by presenter, engineer and adventurer Rob Bell and episode 1 will feature one of the most remote lighthouses in the UK, The Wolf Rock – situated 8 miles off the Cornish coast.Readers of the Cornish Times/Post will remember that the novel recently featured in one of our competitions, Emma Stonex’s mystery novel The Lamplighters, took inspiration from the Wolf Rock lighthouse. 

Hosted by Rob Bell, this new series of Lighthouses: Building The Impossible is a three-part journey through Britain’s beautiful but treacherous coastline and uncovers the secrets of one of Britain’s most heroic feats of engineering – the rock lighthouse. From the awesome might of the North Atlantic to the tempestuous moods of the North Sea, Rob heads offshore in the wake of those who battled seemingly impossible odds to not only build, but to actually live and work in some of the most inhospitable environments on earth. Each episode is led by an iconic lighthouse that reveals tales of catastrophic shipwrecks, dramatic rescues and incredible feats of endurance and survival.   

With the Wolf Rock located eight miles off the Cornish coastline, Rob sees for himself why it was such a herculean struggle to build a stone tower here 160 years ago, fully exposed to the awesome power of the North Atlantic.We hear why The Wolf Rock was also the lighthouse keeper’s most dreaded tour of duty, with tales of its fearsome reputation from the brave men who used to live and work there. Rob demonstrates why simply getting on and off the rock would see keepers sometimes resign on the spot – with nothing more than a knotted rope between them and the Atlantic.At the base for Cornwall’s 21st century lighthouse keepers, Rob delves into the myriad stores of equipment and cutting-edge technology that are needed to keep a 160 year-old lighthouse running. And he sees how access to the Wolf Rock is arguably more hair-raising than ever – as it now involves landing a helicopter on top.

A Cornish adventure wouldn’t be complete without a treasure hunt, and Rob turns historical detective by joining diver and wreck hunter Ben Dunstan to identify a ship that was lost 150 years ago. Rob is amazed to see beautifully preserved artefacts from the wreck that bring its last voyage to life. To find out how tricky it is to avoid becoming one of Cornwall’s estimated 6,000 shipwrecks, Rob takes the wheel of a 93,000 tonne container ship – in Plymouth University’s stunningly realistic ship simulator. He finds out how to navigate using lighthouses when systems go down. Finally, to see why Wolf Rock itself posed such a sinister threat out in open sea, Rob reveals its dramatic birth in the heart of a volcano, at a time when dinosaurs still roamed Cornwall.

The Lighthouses: Building The Impossible series launches on Friday, April 19, at 9pm and continues at 9pm on the next two Friday nights.

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