Tracking down inland lighthouses and some Welsh revisits

I was informed a few weeks ago by the wonderful and infamous Bob that a number of lighthouses exist on the edges of lochs in Scotland. Armed with this new information and his map software, we took advantage of the journey from Inverness to Fort William this weekend in preparation for the start of the Three Peaks Challange. We were joined on the trip by Darryl Campling who, I was pleased to find, was quite active in searching for the lighthouses. I do like welcoming new recruits!

The “pepper-pot” lighthouse at Fort Augustus

Our first stop was Fort Augustus where there is a lighthouse on the edge of Loch Ness. This lighthouse, often referred to as a “pepper-pot”, is in fact said to be the smallest lighthouse in the UK. In its beautiful setting it marks the entrance to the Caledonian Canal. Further along the canal at Corpach is a similar structure and a third can be found at Gairlochy. It was great to visit a new type of lighthouse that I had never even considered might exist before and I imagine that there may be more waiting to be found in Scotland. I look forward to “bagging” them too!

The Three Peaks Challenge went well and I was astounded by how Bob and Darryl managed to keep motivated enough to complete all three in such a short space of time. I had a chance to explore some great places while they were on the mountains, including Glencoe in Scotland with Bob’s parent and Llanberis in Wales.

South Stack lighthouse on the west coast of Anglesey

I was already aware that Bob had a day of surprises lined up for the Sunday and as I drove us away from Snowdonia National Park following his directions, it took me a little while to realise where we were headed. Once I had narrowed the destination down to Anglesey I got very excited about potentially visiting one of, in my opinion, the most beautiful lighthouses in the UK. During the month-long tour I had visited South Stack lighthouse on the west coast of Anglesey twice. The first time was in the evening after setting up camp at a site nearby. However, as I arrived a horrible sea mist had just set in and, contrary to what the crazy man running up and down the 412 steps down to the bridge to South Stack Island had said, the mist only got worse with no sign of it clearing. I revisited again the following morning, this time in the pouring rain. The lighthouse still managed to maintain its beauty in this atrocious weather, but I was too early to take the tour and the idea of hanging around in the horrible weather just didn’t appeal to me. So, returning when the weather was really pleasant and the lighthouse was open to visitors was fantastic. The tour was really interesting and I secretly found the man in the lamp room very funny with his booming Welsh voice. We also had a glimpse from the top of the lighthouse of porpoises playing around in the waves. The tour is a great experience, although the views from the top of the lighthouse and the island can’t quite beat the views of the island itself from the mainland – particularly on a nice day!

From South Stack we were also able to catch a long-distance view of The Skerries with its red and white striped lighthouse. One day we will have to visit the Skerries as well as Bardsey island and a few other island or rock lighthouses off the coast of Wales.

The lighthouse at the end of Holyhead Breakwater

After leaving South Stack we headed for Holyhead, which is home to two more lighthouses. The black and white striped structure on the end of the breakwater at Holyhead – the longest in the UK – proved a bit of a challenge to find, but we got there eventually and it was well worth the effort. The breakwater is particularly popular with fishermen so we had to watch out for them and their rods as we drove along! Within the Breakwater Country Park there is a small area with information about how the breakwater was developed, which is really interesting and definitely worth checking out. The second lighthouse at Holyhead is contained within a restricted access area so we were only able to get some distance shots using a zoom lens. Better than nothing though and definitely better than my first visit (shortly after South Stack) when the mist had begun to creep in there as well.

It was a great weekend and really good to discover a new style of lighthouse and get closer to some of those I had visited previously. Big thanks (again) to Bob for organising everything and continuing to increase his own, and my, commitment to the lighthouse-bagging cause! 🙂

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