Nearest Lighthouses UK and Ireland
Lighthouses may now be automated but they still provide a critically important service to shipping. Our Lighthouse category brings all Coast Radar’s listings related to lighthouses together, where most are positioned also in stunning and often rugged coastal landscapes.
Finding the best things to see and do on a day out with your family or friends is easy – simply explore the lighthouse links below, hit the jump to my location button or use the search bar to plan your next UK and Ireland activity.
- The most famous lighthouse in the British Isles is probably the Eddystone, built on a small and very dangerous rock 13 miles south west of Plymouth. There have been four separate lighthouses built here. The original tower, completed in 1698, was the first lighthouse to be built on a small rock in the open sea. The history is as follows:Winstanley’s Tower 1698 – 1703 Rudyerd’s Tower 1709 – 1755 Smeaton’s Tower 1759 – 1882 Douglass’s Tower – 1882 Onwards
- Peninnis Lighthouse on St Mary’s Island in the Scilly Isles is a small automatic lighthouse consisting of a metal tower, the upper part painted white and the lower part and cupola painted black. This lighthouse was established in 1911 when it superseded the lighthouse on St Agnes which had been in operation since 1680.
- Head Lighthouse is located on Hook Head at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, and it marks the eastern entrance to Waterford Harbour. This is thought to be one of the oldest lighthouses in the world with the current structure has stood for almost 800 years.
- There is a cliff top walk to the foreland along the path leading from the old inn near Countisbury. It is a very long and impressive route along the headland and thence skirting round the cliffs to the lighthouse. Here the rugged track stands some 150 metres above sea level and magnificent views can be had all round. Grass gives way to a well worn footpath along the very side of the sloping cliff itself, and after a walk of about two miles one has to start descending down these tracks to the lighthouse on the point, well below the crest of the headland. At times this walk is very hazardous but never really dangerous provided care is taken. The hardest part is the return journey back up the cliff and along the path – there is in fact a lighthouse service road a little further along the A39 which makes it an easy, but not quite so spectacular visit. Lynmouth Foreland Lighthouse was established by Trinity House in 1900 as a further aid to navigation in the Bristol Channel, 20 miles east of Bull Point. The station was electrified in 1975. The round white tower is 15 metres in height, set on the extremity of the headland 2 miles E.N.E. of Lynmouth. This lighthouse is NOT open to the public.
- Hartland Point Lighthouse gives a guide to vessels of all types approaching the Bristol Channel, the lighthouse was built by Trinity House in 1874 under the direction of Sir James Douglass. Hartland Point lighthouse, built on a large rock at the tip of the point, was threatened by the undermining action of the sea to such an extent that rock had to be broken from the cliff head behind the lighthouse to fall on the beach and form a barrier against the waves. Unfortunately this procedure had to be repeated at frequent intervals as the deposits were washed away whenever a North Westerly gale coincided with a high spring tide. Eventually it became necessary to construct a permanent barrier, and a sea wall 30 metres long and 6 metres high was built in 1925.
- Sark is the smallest of the Channel Islands, and, despite being Crown Property, is ruled by a Seigneur (feudal lord of manor). It is a mere 3 miles long and 2 miles wide, the north and south parts being almost separate islands joined only by a narrow strip of land. The white, octagonal tower of the lighthouse rises from the flat roofed service rooms and dwellings, the whole complex clinging to the steep face of the cliff which rises high above. The only means of access to the lighthouse is a flight of steps down from the top of the cliff. The buildings, which are made of stone and surrounded by a high retaining wall, are of the sort usually found at onshore stations however Sark is classed as a rock lighthouse. The main function of the station is to guide vessels, passing through the Channel Islands, away from the pinnacle of Blanchard Rock.
- Bishop Rock Lighthouse stands on a rock ledge 46m long by 16m wide, 4 miles west of the Scilly Isles. The rocks rise sheer from a depth of 45m and are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean making this one of the most hazardous and difficult sites for the building of a lighthouse. The rocks around the Scilly Isles caused the wreck of many ships over the years including the loss of Sir Cloudesley Shovel’s squadron of the British Fleet in 1707 in which 2,000 men died. The Elder Brethren of Trinity House decided that the lighting of the Scilly Isles, which at that time consisted of only the old lighthouse at St. Agnes, was inadequate, and resolved to build a lighthouse on the most westerly danger, the Bishop Rock.
- Nab Tower Lighthouse is responsible for guiding ships of all sizes and nationalities into the deep water channel for Portsmouth and Southampton. The story of its strange origin goes back half a century. In the early part of 1918 attacks by German U-boats on our merchant fleet caused the Admiralty so much anxiety that it was decided to take strong if unorthodox, counter measures and a startling plan was drawn up by “backroom” scientists. This was to sink a line of eight fort like towers (each costing £1 million) across the straits and to link them with steel boom nets, with the idea of closing the English Channel to enemy ships. About 3,000 civilian workmen were brought to a quiet backwater at Shoreham and work began almost at once on two of these towers – each 40 feet in diameter with latticed steelwork surrounding the 90-foot cylindrical steel tower and built on a hollow 80-foot thick concrete base designed to be flooded and sunk in about 20 fathoms. The vast honeycombed concrete base was shaped with pointed bows and stern for easy towing. One tower was completed when the war finished in November, and the other half finished giant was broken up for scrap. After much thought it was decided to use the solitary “white elephant” to replace the old Nab Light Vessel by sinking it at the eastern end of the Spithead approaches, also serving as an invaluable naval defence post, if required.
- The Island of Flatholm lies centrally in the busy shipping lanes where the Bristol Channel meets the Severn estuary. The need for a lighthouse on the island had been discussed for many years by leading shipmasters and by members of the Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol when, in 1733, John Elbridge, a senior member of the Society, forwarded a petition to Trinity House setting out the dangers to navigation and the general desire for a light on the island. However, Trinity House informed Elbridge that no application had been made to the Crown for a light and at the same time the Corporation took steps to ensure that no light was erected other than in their name.
- St. Bees Lighthouse, south of the harbours of Maryport, Workington and Whitehaven, sandy beaches and grassy foreshores give way to cliffs around St. Bees Head, a high promontory, which was a danger to small coastal vessels trading between the ports of Wales and the Solway Firth. In 1822, St. Bees’ tower was destroyed by fire and Trinity House decided to substitute the coal light for oil. St. Bees was the last coal-fired lighthouse in Britain.
- The Langness Lighthouse was established in 1880 at Dreswick Point on the eastern side. The lighthouse has a white tower 19 metres high and incorporates 77 steps to the top of the tower. Langness Lighthouse image: cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Phil Catterall – geograph.org.uk/p/490651
- Hilbre Island Lighthouse provides a port land mark for the Hilbre swash in the River Dee estuary. This small automatic lighthouse came under the full jurisdiction of Trinity House in 1973, before this it was operated by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Authority.