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.
- 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.
- Start Point Lighthouse was built by Robert Stevenson and completed on 2 October 1806. This was the first Scottish lighthouse to have a revolving light and since 1915 has exhibited distinctive black and white vertical stripes which are unique in Scotland. The light was automated in 1962 and is powered by a bank of solar panels.
- Two circular towers were built each with massive walls and a stone gallery. The eastern, or high lighthouse being 37 metres high and the western or low lighthouse 25 metres high. Placed 302 metres apart they provided leading lights to indicate safe passage past the sandbanks. The high light was painted with black and white stripes and the low light was white. In those days both towers showed a fixed light which was either red or white depending on the direction from which a vessel approached. The red sector marked the Nash Sands. The low light was abandoned early this century and the high light was modernised and painted white. In place of the fixed light a new first order catastrophic lens was installed which gives a white and red group flashing. Nash is one of those lighthouses scattered around our coast that has no claim to fame. For over 160 years its light has done its job as a sign to mariners to keep them clear of danger, its sole distinction is the discovery in 1977 of the tuberous thistle (Cirsium Tuberosum), a rare plant, which was found growing around the lighthouse. Lighthouse has a visitor centre although opening times are restricted.
- Bull Point lighthouse gives a guide to vessels navigating off the North Devon coast with a red sector light marking the Rockham Shoal and the Morte Stone. Bull Point Lighthouse gives a guide to vessels navigating off the North Devon Coast with a red sector light marking the Rockham Shoal and the Morte Stone off Morte Point. The light was first established in 1879 on the headland near the village of Mortehoe, North Devon, and operated without undue incident for 93 years, but on 18th September, 1972, the Principal Keeper reported ground movement in the area of the engine room and the passage leading to the lighthouse, and that 2″ fissures were opening up. In the early hours of Sunday morning, 24th September, 15 metres of the cliff face crashed into the sea and a further 15 metres subsided steeply causing deep fissures to open up inside the boundary wall. Walls cracked and the engine/fog signal station partly collapsed, leaving it in a dangerous condition and putting the fog signal out of action.
- Whitby Lighthouse protected the busy Whitby harbour. The harbour at Whitby is still the base for the town’s fishing fleet and it was from here that Captain Cook set out in the ENDEAVOUR on his voyage of discovery to Australia in 1768. With high cliffs and fine beaches extend to Ravenscar around Robin Hood’s Bay from Whitby and the area is popular with holiday-makers.
- The Old Beacon is a lighthouse located at Dennis Head, in the northeast of North Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands. The lighthouse was built in 1789 by Thomas Smith and he was helped by his stepson Robert Stevenson, the lighthouse is an unpainted stone cylindrical tower at a height of 21 metres (69 ft). In 1809 it was decided that the North Ronaldsay light was no longer required. The round stone tower was retained as a sea-mark, with the original beacon chamber at the top replaced by a vaulted roof, capped by a ball finial. The stone spiral staircase which once led to the beacon was demolished and the original keepers’ houses, although roofless but largely complete, survive below the tower. Just 43 years later in 1852, a new lighthouse was built just to the north.North Ronaldsay does have a current lighthouse.
- For over 80 years the small unmanned lighthouse at Bamburgh has given a guide to shipping in passage along the coast as well as to vessels in the waters around the Farne Islands. Bamburgh Lighthouse was built in 1910 and extensively modernized in 1975. The dangers of the North East coast have long since been noted, although no warnings or safety precautions were apparently employed until the late 18th century. The turbulence of the waters, however, can be matched by the turbulence of the area’s history. The Bamburgh area, and Bamburgh Castle, in particular, has played an important role in English history since the occupation of the site by the Romans. Only 20 miles from the border Bamburgh Castle was once captured by the Scots and has also been fought over by the Danes and the Kings of Mercia and Northumbria.
- Longships lighthouse is situated on on Carn Bras, the highest islet in the Longships group, at the tip of Cornwall and guides vessels through the extreme storms around the cliffs of Lands End. The original tower was built in 1795 but very high seas obscured its light and the present granite tower was built between 1869 and1873 to replace it.
- Lizard Lighthouse is a landfall and coastal mark giving a guide to vessels in passage along the English Channel and warning of the hazardous waters off Lizard Point. Many stories are told of the activities of wreckers around our coasts, most of which are grossly exaggerated, but small communities occasionally and sometimes officially benefited from the spoils of shipwrecks, and petitions for lighthouses were, in certain cases, rejected on the strength of local opinion; this was particularly true in the South West of England. The distinctive twin towers of the Lizard Lighthouse mark the most southerly point of mainland Britain. The coastline is particularly hazardous, and from early times the need for a beacon was obvious. Lighthouse has a visitor centre although opening times are restricted.
- Hurst Point Lighthouse guides vessels through the hazardous western approaches to the Solent, indicating the line of approach through the Needles Channel. Although it is said that a light was shown on Hurst Point as early as 1733, the first Trinity House record relates to a meeting of shipmasters and merchants in 1781 to approve the terms of a formal petition to Trinity House for lights in the neighbourhood of the Isle of Wight. As a result a patent was obtained in January 1782 which stated that “ships and vessels have been lost… and the lives, ships and goods of His Majesty’s subjects as well as the King’s Royal Navy continue to be exposed to the like calamities more especially in the night time and in hard southerly gales”. The patent directed that the lights should be “kept burning in the night season whereby seafaring men and mariners might take notice of and avoid dangers….. and ships and other vessels of war might safely cruise during the night season in the British Channel”. In 1785, negotiations with Tatnell fell through and Trinity House erected to the designs of R. Jupp three lighthouses at the Needles, St. Catherine’s Point and Hurst. The Hurst Tower, sited to the south west of the old Hurst Castle, was lit for the first time on 29th September 1786. In due course, however, shipping found that this light was obscured from certain directions and the Corporation constructed in 1812 an additional and higher light, both to remedy this defect and to give a guiding line to vessels. Extensive additions were made to the castle between 1865 and 1873 necessitating the repositioning of the lights. In 1866, a new lighthouse which was called the Low Light, was built to replace the old Hurst Tower. The new lighthouse consisted of a white circular granite tower with a red lantern. This light was replaced in 1911 with a new Low Lighthouse, a red square metal structure standing on a framework of steel joists attached to the wall of Hurst Castle. The 1812 High Lighthouse was also replaced in 1867 by the 26 metre tower which is still working today. A major modernisation of Hurst Point High Lighthouse was completed in July 1997. Prompted by the growth in volume and diversity of traffic using the Needles Channel and following extensive consultation with the marine community, high intensity projectors were installed on Hurst High Lighthouse. These are exhibited day and night to mark the channel between the Needles and the Shingles Bank.
- 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