We are fortunate enough to have many unique lighthouse’s In north Wales. They dot the coastline of Anglesey and the further reaches of the north Wales coast towards Rhyl and beyond. Their role is to provide a safe passage for mariners on their transits at night, whilst they are navigating our dynamic coastline. The Anglesey coast is renowned for its savage seas, rocky outcrops and fast tides which has lured many ships to wreck on the rocks, which now litter the sea bed from generations gone by. They are a stark reminder of the purpose of lighthouses. Each lighthouse has its own unique flash signature and can reach a maximum of 50 miles to warn boats of the impending rocks and coast.
Lighthouses can provide and excellent outing for the family, for dog walks and for day hikes. They link up sections of the Anglesey coastal path. Whether you are here on holiday or you are a local, the lighthouses of Anglesey and north Wales, are in wonderful surroundings and can make a great day out. The Anglesey coast is a dynamic one with a vast array of coastal foot paths which give a great opportunity for a little adventure in your day. We are lucky to have had four generations of lighthouse keepers in our family who recounted many stories to us a children of their adventure and escapades. The last generation of our family carried the batten to the finish line and were one of the last keepers in the history of the UK admiralty.
The history of Lighthouses in wales is an interesting one, which dates back to the 1515s when Elizibeth the 1st passed an act of Mariners to begin and setting up beacons, marks and signs of the sea. Light houses where errected to help with the problem of wrecking around the coast of Great Britian. They began with a set of light towers built with wooden struts and powered by light by torch, the first one built in Lowestoft, to warn sailors of their rocky surroundings. This then evolved to the first light house, built from stone at Edystone lighthouse by 1698 which is then destroyed by a storm in 1703.
The style and type of light house and the means of which they where powered altered greatly over the following centurys with the first electric powered navigation lighthouse went into service in 1858. Trailed at south Foreland and installed by Professor Michael Faraday. These lighthouses where still manned until the late 1990s when the lighthouses went fully automated.
Lighthouse Keepers had a very important role in the marine industry, well before the aid of GPS and navigational equipment became mainstream for sailing vessle’s electronic systems in the 1980s. The lighthouses keepers duty was to maintain the illumination and sounding of the fog horns at all times they where required. The lived very solitary lives in quite cramped conditions. But this solitude was balanced by living in harmony with mother nature on beautiful islands, with fresh fish for dinner most days! Their living quarters where in the light houses themselves or sometimes in outhouses built onto the lighthouses themselves.
The original lighthouses where self surfficient and would have farm animals and growing plots for the keepers to grown and farm their own food. Our Family three generations ago lived at St Mary’s light house in northumberland area and had a fully functioning farm there for their needs. The whole family lived there lock stock and barrel and where self sufficient to a degree.
The coast of north Wales has an infamous history with wrecks that dates back to the very early mariner times. Many of the great gold carrying ships of the century’s came to ground on Anglesey’s shoreline, forced on by hurricane force winds and strong tides which the island can be infamous for. One of the most famous of the wrecks on Anglesey has to be the Royal charter which sank in a huge storm off the coast of Moyelfre, taking with it to the seabed many hundreds of the crew and passengers carrying many tons of gold with them. The wreck is diveable to this day and can be explored if you re scuba diver.
The maps of Wrecks on Anglesey can be seen in the image below and illustrates the need for a newtwork of lighthouse’s to aid the sailors of the yesteryear.
Here are a list of the main light houses of north Wales. Some are fully operational and some are now just beacon points for visual reference. You can take a walk to each and explore each one a little more closely. The walks that they provide are some of the best in north Wales as they are at generally amazing locations with brilliant vistas! Take the dog along and make an after noon of it..
Llandwyn Island Lighthouse – Newborough Anglesey West Coast
Located on the West Coast of Anglesey at new borough Llandwyn Island Lighthouse, a magnificent tower that once served another purpose that many people have speculated on. The most common belief is that the lighthouse was once a windmill. You will find this white tower to have an amazing view as it sits on top of a hill and looks out onto the water. On a clear day you can see mountains of the Rivals on the Llyn in the background. On a cloudy day, the water is offset by the white clouds.
Bardsey Island Lighthouse – Off The Llyn Peninsular
The Bardsey Island Lighthouse, was built in the traditional red and white stripe design. The 30 meter height tower with the observation deck at the top helps to reinforce its traditional appearance. Built in 1821 the lighthouse was manned and manual until 1987, when it was converted into an automatic lighthouse.
Bardesy Island has far more than a light house though, the stories of this magical island live long through the millennia. It is reported to be the home of Merlin the famous wizard, wher the Lord of the rings stories came from. Another amazing fact of Bardsey Island is that the word ” bard ” was used in Pre roman times in Wales, where the name for the “high priests and teachers” of their time. Their role was to pass down important teachings of culture history and sciences such as botany and astronomy to the younger generations. They where classed as high, if not higher than kings themselves. Merlin was classed a the “head bard”. People made pilgrimages to Bardsey island where reportedly 20,000 saints where laid to rest. Three pilgrimages to Bardsey where the equivalent of one to Rome.
South Stack Lighthouse – Holy Island
South Stack has stood vigilant on the north-west coast of Anglesey for over 120 years, protecting ships from the dangerous rocks at the shoreline. South stack plays the pivotal role of the guiding ships in an eastbound direction from Dublin and the south Celtic sea.
You can walk up to the top of the watch tower and gaze out over the Celtic sea towards the mountains of mourne in Ireland. South stack is one of the most outstanding locations if you are to visit and the walk down the 300+ steps over looking the steep cliffs of Gogarth bay is breath taking. A real gem visitor attraction to visit on Anglesey. Make sure you take in the amazing geological formations on the way down. They are well renound.
North Stack Lighthouse- Holy Island
TheNorth Stack is the second building owned by Trinity house on Holy Island. It is positioned only 1.5km walk away from south stack to the east. You can get to it on the coastal path by foot. It is a signal station (or fog horn ) as we would know it today, that is past of the above above mentioned Eastbound ship signal system for the area. It was not a lighthouse but it was part of the connected system, containing a foghorn, warning canon, and a magazine for storing shells. The site is currently used for birdwatching and is a private home. There is another route for access to here, from the break water country park (which is breath taking) it weaves its way down to the cliff sides.
Trwyn Du, Penmon – North East Tip Of Anglesey
Located near Penmon on the north eastern part of the Island of Anglesey is the Trwyn Du Lighthouse, this located at the furthest top north eastern tip of Anglesey. It was built in 1838 after a steamship crashed into the coastline. While the tower has seen several changes over the years, what stands there now is a 29m tall lighthouse which is now automated. Reportedly the reef that separates the mainland of penmon and the Puffin Island 500m out to sea scuppered a couple of Spanish armada ships in its time. Cannons where recovered from the area by local dive clubs, showing some rich maritime history of the area. There is a wonderful cafe you can stop at there and there and its also a well kept secret in the fishing world in the summer months of Mackerel (don’t tell anyone I told you 😉 !
The Skerries Lighthouse- Off Anglesey
The Skerries is one of the oldest lighthouses on this list, it was built in 1717 and automated in 1987. Sitting at the top of the largest outcrop islands situated 8 miles off the coats of Holy Island. The Skerries, the lighthouse is able to warn incoming ships of the potential hazards of the set of islands, which in foggy conditions could easily be a hazard. With strong westerly winds and big tides running past here, its easy to see why there needed to be a light house here.
The Cottages that are attached to the tower make for interesting walk around as they pre date the tower. Seasonally, the cottages are used by wardens from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It is accessible by sailing boat and Rib at mid to low water depending on your draft of vessel. There is a lagoon there which we often moor up in.
Point Lynas – Anglesey, north Wales coast
The Point Lynas lighthouse is another unique entry on this list, it is a lighthouse that dates back to the 1700s and looks off into the Irish Sea, facing a north / north easterly direction. Its situated on a peninsular that just out from the Anglesey coast, which some what resembles Nefyn peninsular. The rugged coast line of the north west Angleseys coast gives a rather lord of the rings feel to visitors. This is also a great local fishing spot and you could combine with a day visit to Bull bay and Moyelfre.
The Great Orme- Llandudno
The Great Orme is a large limestone outcrop that sits a few miles north of Bangor. The lighthouse referred to as just The Great Orme lighthouse and It was built in 1862 and was built with rather ornate designs. From the keepers hall to the Victorian dining room, you probably aren’t used to seeing lighthouses like this one.. well worth a visit.
You could combine it to visit and take a tour around the great Orme, its a fabulous peninsular and there are many other sites to visit while your there, including, underground mines, a brewery, the tramway, cafe, visitor centre and more.
Talacre Point – Near Rhyl
Talacre Point Lighthouse is also commonly known as The Point of Ayr Lighthouse. It is a beautiful lighthouse with a metal statue of the keeper on the outside. Numerous ghost stories revolve around the lighthouse, probably making it somewhere that you don’t want to visit at night!. That is, unless you like haunted lighthouses.
Interested in lighthouses? These are just some of the better lighthouses to visit. There are a number of lighthouses and other maritime related activities in North Wales. With so much of the culture and history revolving around the water, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Make a vacation of it and travel all of these lighthouses and more.
So make sure you get to visit some of our wonderful old lighthouses on your stay here in north Wales. You could hike the Anglesey coastal path and incorporate a few of them into a trip especially south stack and north stack in one go. Llandwyn island at Newborough is a day out in itself you could have a picnic on the beach, fly a kite, have a swim, walk the board walks and then hike to the lighthouse..
Have a great easter what ever your doing and drop us a comment below letting us know what you got upto!