Britain’s lighthouses have made our coastline a safer place for centuries, protecting seafarers from hidden rocks and shifting tides. These lighthouses were once home to those who worked in them, sometimes in the most remote but beautiful places in the UK.
In the modern era of automated lighthouses, these iconic landmarks now provide a nostalgic reminder of the country’s historic relationship with the sea. Over the years Britain’s lighthouses have become popular tourist attractions, while silently guarding our coastlines and sailors.
From iconic views and scenic walks to stories of bravery and technological break-throughs, there’s lots to discover on a visit to one of Britain’s lighthouses. Today, we’ve looked at some of the best lighthouses for you to explore on your next holiday with Parkdean Resorts.
Longstone Lighthouse, Farne Islands, Northumberland
Longstone Lighthouse wasn’t the first lighthouse to be built on Northumberland’s Farne Islands, but it’s by far the most famous. Once home to the Darling family, it was the location of one of the most well-known sea rescue stories in British history. The bravery of the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Grace Darling, meant Longstone Lighthouse went down in history.
In 1838 the SS Forfarshire, a luxury paddle steamer, ran aground on rocks off the island during a storm. Most of the crew and passengers were lost to the sea, but a few made it to a small rocky outcrop called Big Harcar Rock. Grace, who was unable to sleep because of the storm, was looking out of the lighthouse window when she noticed the wreckage of the ship - and spotted the survivors clinging to the rock.
She raised the alarm and, along with her father, braved the ferocious sea in a small rowing boat to reach the survivors. While her father climbed onto the rock to help the survivors into the boat, young Grace had to battle the raging waters and steady the boat - so they could all make it safely aboard. They managed to rescue nine people in total, and cared for them in the lighthouse until the storm passed.
The news of this remarkable act of bravery soon spread around the country, and Grace Darling was declared a heroine. A media frenzy followed, and Grace became a national treasure - receiving mountains of fan mail, requests for public appearances, and she even brushed shoulders with royalty!
To discover more about the story, you can take a boat trip to Longstone Lighthouse from Seahouses, under 50 minutes from Eyemouth Holiday Park. Visit the lighthouse itself and peer through the window from which Grace first saw the wreckage of the Forfarshire. There’s also lots of wildlife that call the Farne Islands home, including the islands’ grey seal colony and a variety of seabirds - including puffins, terns and kittiwakes.
Video sourced from Call Again Photography
South Foreland Lighthouse, Dover
One of the most iconic landmarks on the White Cliffs of Dover, South Foreland Lighthouse is a Victorian marvel. Created to warn ships of perilous shifting sands, it has stood for many years and has witnessed some of the most well-known events in British history.
The Goodwin Sands, found around 3 miles off shore, can be a difficult area for ships to navigate across. On high tides, the 10-mile-long hidden sandbank turns into quick sand, making a lighthouse on this point essential to prevent ships from getting stuck.
South Foreland is a place of innovation and was the first lighthouse to use an electric light. It was also used as a base by Guglielmo Marconi, to investigate the use of radio waves at sea – resulting in the first ever ship-to-shore message. In 1899, the first international radio transmission was made between the lighthouse and Wimereux in France.
Video sourced from Pegasus Aerial Imaging
A guided tour of the lighthouse delves into its fascinating story. A 20 minute walk from St Margarets Bay Holiday Park, you can discover all about its innovative past and how it played a part in aiding the safety of maritime vessels. Once you reach the top, step out onto the lighthouse balcony for a spectacular bird’s eye view across the Channel.
Chalk Tower and Flamborough Head Lighthouse, Yorkshire
Built in 1669, the Chalk Tower at Flamborough Head is the oldest complete lighthouse structure in the UK - and one of the oldest in the world. As its name implies, the lighthouse tower is made of chalk, and has stood for more than 300 years!
Flamborough Head stretches for around 8 miles along the North Sea. It’s one of the most iconic landmarks on the Yorkshire Coast, with its sheer white cliffs and unique rock formations. It’s also home to another lighthouse, Flamborough Head Lighthouse, which remains in operation to this day.
Designated both as a Special Area of Conservation, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the cliffs at Flamborough Head are very significant, for both wildlife and geology. An estimated 200,000 nesting birds call Flamborough Head home, with many species travelling here every year to make their nests on the rocky faces of the cliffs.
Only 30 minutes from Barmston Beach Holiday Park, the coastline is a great location for bird watching, and there are endless walking opportunities along the cliff tops. Look out for kittiwakes, puffins and gannets nesting on the rocky cliffs, as well as butterflies and wildflowers on the grassy paths that wind along the coast.
Video sourced from Drone Life
South Stack Lighthouse, Wales
Under an hour away from Ty Mawr Holiday Park, South Stack Lighthouse is the most iconic of Anglesey’s lighthouses. Built on Ynys Lawd, a small rocky island just off the edge of Holy Island, the lighthouse offers up some of the most spectacular views in Wales.
Built in 1809, the lighthouse has protected sailors from the rocks that have surrounded the island for many years. Standing at roughly 91ft tall, the lighthouse can be seen for up to 28 miles out to sea.
The lighthouse is reached by climbing down a number of steps, before crossing a bridge which takes you across to the island. The walk itself is one of the highlights of a visit, with stunning scenery to enjoy along the way.
Once there, explore the tiny but beautiful island and join a guided tour to reach the top of the lighthouse, to experience the breathtaking view across the sea. An exhibition tells the history of the lighthouse, and the tower is a great place to look out for marine wildlife in the sea below. See if you can spot Harbour porpoise, dolphins and grey seals which can be seen during high tides.
The surrounding nature reserve, run by the RSPB, is a fantastic location to watch seabirds, especially during the spring months as they build their nests on the cliffs. Look out for the razorbills, puffins and guillemots.
Video sourced from Owen Sutton