Lighthouse Beacons from Scotland

Cape Wrath Lighthouse

Photo by Anne Burgess via Wikimedia

Cape Wrath was another lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson, this time in 1828 on the most north-westerly tip of the Scottish mainland on one of the UK's highest vertical cliffs. The name of the headland derives, not from the "wrath" of the stormy waters of the area but from a Norse word for a "turning point". This was where the Norsemen turned their ships to head home or head south if they were on the outward journey to the Hebrides, Isle of Man or Ireland.

In summer, visitors to the lighthouse can cross the Kyle of Durness by ferry boat and then travel twelve miles by minibus along a track. In winter there is an 11-mile trek from Kinlochbervie over rough, unmarked, but stunning, terrain. The graphic on the right is by Anne Burgess via Wikimedia.

It was on 17 January 1977 that a helicopter carried out the very first supply operation at a shore-based Scottish lighthouse. Until then, as the lighthouse is not easily accessible by road, so all stores including household goods and spare parts and fuel had to be landed once a year by the Lighthouse Tender NLV PHAROS which conveys stores to all the isolated lighthouses along the Scottish and Isle of Man coasts. In addition to the light, there is a fog signal and radio beacon. The lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in 1998.

The lighthouse keepers' cottage is currently (2014) leased by a couple who, despite the remoteness, operate the "Ozone" cafe. In 2013 it had 6,000 visitors (double that of five years previously when it first opened). Bed and breakfast can also be provided there - no charge for a bed for the night, but 5 for a cooked breakfast and the same amount for an evening meal, if required. (Graphic on the left is by Helen Baker, via Wikimedia).

In 2009 the couple finally celebrated Christmas a month late after getting separated by the snow when Mrs Ure, aged 59, went to buy a turkey in Inverness - and couldn't get back! Things can sometimes get exciting at Cape Wrath when NATO have a training exercise off the coast and use Cape Wrath as a bombing range!

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