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.
- Now just an empty shell not used since it was closed down October 1986. Spurn Head has had many lighthouses over the years with the first around 1427. The present abandoned lighthouse was built from 1893 TO 1895. It had the light removed and it was used as a store for explosives and later as a water tower. You can see the round perimeter wall surrounding the old keepers cottages and the base of the old lighthouse which had to be demolished.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Alderney Lighthouse was built in 1912 in order to act as a guide to passing shipping and to warn vessels of the treacherous waters around the Isle. It is sited on Quénard Point, to the north-east of the Island. The Alderney Race, a notorious strait of water between Alderney and Cap de la Hague in France includes the strongest tidal streams in Europe. These are caused by the tidal surge from the Atlantic building up in the cul de sac of the gulf of St Malo with the only escape in the north east corner between Alderney and Cap de la Hague. Water flows through at speed at high tide and is sucked back down through as the tide recedes. An uneven sea bed adds to the turbulance with a number of hazardous rocks located within a few miles of the lighthouse. Alderney has a visitor centre but opening is restricted.
- Bardsey Lighthouse stands on the southerly tip of the island and gives a guide to vessels in passage through St George’s Channel and the Irish Sea. The lighthouse tower is unusual in being square in plan. It is striped in red and white horizontal bands. The building was erected by Trinity House in 1821 at a cost of £5,470 12s 6d plus a further £2,950 16s 7d for the lantern. Leaving Strumble Head behind, vessels enter Cardigan Bay, where in the 1890s a lightship was stationed which is no longer in use. The next headland encountered is the Lleyn Peninsula of Caernavonshire with the small island of Bardsey separated from the mainland by the Bardsey Sound. The island, some 2 miles long by ½ mile wide, is surrounded by outcrops of sharp rocks. In the sixth century Bardsey was a refuge for the Celts who sought sanctuary from the bloodthirsty Saxons. Only the ruins of the Abbey of St. Mary remain, but the sanctity of its patron, St Dolmers, who died there in 612 made the Abbey famous all over Britain. The remains of many venerable monks were conveyed to the island to be buried, and acres of graves record tales of pious and laborious lives.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.