The coastline of Scotland is thousands of miles long and is home to stunning scenery and some beautiful lighthouses. They recall images of long journeys across vast seas, and of ships going through treacherous storms. Many of them are located on remote pieces of land. One can imagine the battle against all the odds and excellent craftsmanship that it would have taken to built them, back in the 19th century. Most lighthouses have been retired from duty in recent years. Their buildings have been transformed into museums or hotels and are popular sites for outdoor lovers and keen photographers. Explore these great Scottish coastal landmarks each with their own unique and breathtaking beauty.
Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, Outer Hebrides
At the far northern point of the Island of Lewis at the edge of the Outer Hebrides, you’ll find the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse (Scottish Gaelic: Rubha Robhanais). On a summer day when the sea is calm, the tremendous views of the ocean from the high cliffs will take your breath away. Around 3000 million years ago, the rocks that have created these cliffs were formed; they are some of the oldest in Europe. On a stormy day, however, this stretch of coastline is battered by waves and winds can reach up to 100 miles per hour – being it once rated as the windiest place in Britain.
The unpainted Butt of Lewis Lighthouse is made of red brick and was built in the 1860s. It was only in 1998 that the lighthouse was finally mechanized. Nowadays it’s a lot easier to reach the Butt of Lewis, but it has still kept its wild beauty.
Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Shetland
Perhaps the most known, and oldest lighthouse in Shetland, is Sumburgh Lighthouse. The lighthouse, positioned at the most southern point of mainland Shetland, rises above the steep Sumburgh Head cliffs and is visible from land and sea for miles around.
Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Center, and Nature Reserve are a prime attraction, providing not only panoramic views out over the cliffs but also an engaging and interactive experience for the whole family. The accommodation in the restored lighthouse keeper’s cottage is the perfect way to extend your Sumburgh Head visit for a few more days.
Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, Galloway
The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse stands on the southernmost edge of Scotland and rises to a height of 26m at the extremity of dramatic cliffs. The construction of the lighthouse started in 1828 and was completed in 1830. The Mull of Galloway is an unspoiled paradise for visitors seeking peace and tranquility. Here you can explore the exhibition of lighthouse history and walk the highly acclaimed Mull of Galloway Trail, a spectacular coastal trail. Don’t miss the climb (via 115 steps) to the top of the lighthouse and be rewarded with the best views of Scotland, Ireland, and the Island of Man.
Tarbat Ness Lighthouse, Moray
It is hard to find a more distinctive lighthouse than Tarbat Ness, its striking red and white bands are eye catching. The lighthouse that stands 53 meters above land beside the small village of Portmahomack was the first coastal lighthouse to have flashing lights. There are 203 steps to reach the top, making Tarbat Ness Lighthouse the third tallest in Scotland.
The Tarbat Peninsula, the most eastern point of the north of Scotland, offers excellent views throughout and great opportunities to spot dolphins and seals. There are lovely coastal walks at either end of the village, and fantastic rock pools can keep children amused for hours. Otters, seals and dolphins compete for your attention, and the sunsets may give an unforgettable end of a beautiful summer day
Bell Rock Lighthouse, Angus
The Bell Rock Lighthouse still stands after 200 years proudly flashing its warning light. This remarkable sight – a white stone tower of 35 meters high – stands eleven miles out to sea off the Scottish east coast. It is the oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse and only completely visible at low tide. The Bell Rock Lighthouse is a masterpiece of engineering and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. Bell Rock Lighthouse was lit on February 1st, 1811. It is a creation that was born out of a real labor of love, and until today it stands high as a reminder of man’s ability to create something beautiful.
Lismore Lighthouse, Argyll & Bute
Lismore Lighthouse, situated on the small island of Eilean Musdile off the coast of Lismore, is one of Scotland’s most scenic lighthouse. Thanks to its white facade, it is a striking landmark, particularly if you are on the Oban – Mull ferry, which passes at only a short distance from Lismore Lighthouse. In 1833, when the construction was completed, the light was ready to provide a safer passage of the busy waters around the Sound of Mull.
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, Highlands
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse stands majestically 55 meters above the sea, at the tip of the spectacular and dramatic Ardnamurchan Peninsula, mainland Britain’s most westerly point. A long, winding road travels along the Ardnamurchan Peninsula provides panoramas of the most arresting scenery. The long journey to reach Ardnamurchan Lighthouse is very much worth the effort. The beautiful views towards the islands of Rum, Eigg Mull and Skye are breathtaking. The lighthouse itself was built in 1849, using distinctive pink granite quarried from the Island of Mull, and was automated in 1988.
Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle of Skye
Neist Point is the most westerly point of Skye, renowned for its rock formations which closely resemble the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. On the extremity of Neist Point, quite literally on the edge of the cliff, stands Neist Point Lighthouse that can be reached taking a short walk (about one mile) down the steep steps. Whales and dolphins can regularly be spotted here while the views to the Outer Hebrides are spectacular. Neist Point Lighthouse was built in 1909 and became fully automated in 1990.