Lighthouse Beacons from Scotland

Duncansby Head Lighthouse

Photo of helicopter taking off after servicing Duncansby lighthouse by Fergus Mather via Wikimedia

Duncansby Head Lighthouse was built in 1924. Its design departed from the traditional round tower and instead the building, including ther concrete lantern, is square. Graphic on the right is via Wikimedia.

The lighthouse was automated in 1997. Soon after, an inspection of the keeper's houses showed water damage and asbestos on the premises so the houses were demolished but the tower remained and the light will not be shut off. But older photos of the lighthouse show the buildings that were demolished.

The station is located on the North East corner of Scotland near John O' Groats and overlooks the Pentland Skerries. The Skerries are caused as the waters of the wide Atlantic flow into the North Sea and ebb in the opposite direction. This sets into motion a welter of eddies, races, overfalls, and in the neighbourhood of this lighthouse they run at a speed of ten knots. In the days of sail, the Pentland Firth earned the title of "Hell's mouth."

A minor public road leads from John o' Groats to Duncansby Head, which makes Duncansby Head the farthest point by road from Land's End. The Duncansby Head Site of Special Scientific Interest includes the 6.5 km stretch of coast south to Skirza Head. It includes the Duncansby Stacks, prominent sea stacks just off the coast (see graphic here, via Wikimedia).

So dramatic are the effects each of the tide races that each has been given a name - the Swilkie, the Bore of Huna, the wells of Tuftalie, and the Merry Men of May. The one near the lighthouse is named Duncansby Bore and is fascinating to watch. Because of the danger for ships in this area you can see six operating lighthouse from Duncansby car park.

In 1968 a high power racon (radar beacon) was installed. It has now been replaced by a low-power self operating type, which can be particularly useful as a warning where the coastline is not conspicuous on a radar display.

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