Find the nearest Lighthouses
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.
- Before the erection of a lighthouse at Cromer lights for the guidance of vessels were shown from the tower of the parish church, these were small, but served a useful purpose for many years. A number of ecclesiastical lights such as this were exhibited around the coast in medieval times. During the first twenty years following Charles II’s restoration in 1660 many proposals were put forward for lighthouses on all parts of the coast. One of the petitioners, Sir John Clayton, suggested no less than five lighthouses on four different sites – at the Farne Islands off Northumberland, Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, Foulness at Cromer and Corton near Lowestoft. Despite opposition to his schemes Sir John, together with a George Blake obtained a comprehensive patent in 1669 and at a cost of £3,000 erected towers at each of the four sites. The patent would last for 60 years and specified rates of dues to to be paid (voluntarily) by the owners of passing vessels. The present lighthouse, a white octagonal tower standing about ½ mile from the cliff edge, was built in 1833 and converted to electric operation in 1958. In June 1990 the station was converted to automatic operation and is now monitored from the Trinity House Operations Control Centre at Harwich.
- 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.
- Dungeness lies at the southernmost point of Kent and is an enormous flat of sand and shingle which has been a hazard to shipping for hundreds of years. Dungeness Lighthouse marks the end of the peninsula and is also an important way mark and reference for vessels navigating the Dover Straits.
- Start Point is one of the most exposed peninsulas on the English Coast, running sharply almost a mile into the sea on the South side of Start Bay near Dartmouth. The Lighthouse, sited at the very end of the headland, has guided vessels in passage along the English Channel for over 150 years. Lighthouse has a visitor centre.
- The rocks upon which the Skerries Lighthouse stands are at the end of a low tract of submerged land North-East of Holyhead which lies directly in the path of many of the major shipping lines from Liverpool and Ireland. The lighthouse gives a guide to passing shipping and a warning of the dangerous rocks.
- Needles Lighthouse is set in the western approaches to the Isle of Wight, the Needles form a narrow chalky peninsula which rises from jagged rocks to 120m cliffs. These rocks have always been a hazard to ships making their way up the Solent to Portsmouth and Southampton Water.
- 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.
- At the end of Berry Head, beyond the coastguard station, is the lighthouse, which forms part of the chain of south coast beacons. The lighthouse, which was built in 1906, was converted to unwatched acetylene operation in 1921 and modernised and converted to mains electricity in 1994. It came to be known as the smallest, highest and deepest light in the British Isles – the tower is diminutive, requiring no further elevation than that given by the headland itself, and the optic was originally turned by the action of a weight falling down a 45m deep shaft, now made redundant by a small motor.
- The Point of Ayre Lighthouse is an active 19th-century lighthouse that was first lit in 1818, making it the oldest operational lighthouse on the island. The lighthouse is located at the Point of Ayre at the north-eastern end of the Isle of Man and was designed and built by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of prolific writer and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. The point has shingle and gravel deposited by the strong currents, this changing landscape forced a smaller light commonly referred to as a ‘winkie’ had to be built 750 feet (230 m) to the seaward side of the main tower in 1899. This was then repositioned a further 250 feet (76 m) in the same direction and for the same reasons in 1950. The ‘winkie’ light was discontinued on 7 April 2010.
- The island of Anglesey, off the coast of North Wales, must be rounded by coastal shipping making the passage up or down the western seaboard, and as a consequence of its position in a busy seaway has several major lights. Skerries was built first, followed a century later by South Stack and Point Lynas, the latter after the wreck of the “Rothesay Castle” on Puffin Island at the entrance to the Menai Strait in 1830.