Iconic lighthouses to in stay and visit
There are more than 30 lighthouses dotted around the Welsh coast, helping to keep sailors safe and also looking splendid at the same time. These are some of our favourites to visit.
Strumble Head great for... waves
Strumble Head lighthouse sits on a small island off a rocky headland called Pencaer, or Strumble Head. This is one of Britain’s best places to spot migratory birds and passing cetaceans, and the old observation hut is popular with bird and sea watchers (the most dedicated of whom are known as ‘Strumblers’).
Bardsey great for... tranquility
The usual square tower of Bardsey lighthouse is painted in jolly red-and white bands, and its light shines red, too – it’s less dangerous for migrating birds than the old white light.
Caldey great for... day trips
Here’s a great day trip if you’re holidaying in Pembrokeshire: take the boat across from Tenby, explore the Cistercian monastery, buy some home-made chocolate from the shop, and walk across the fields to a clifftop lighthouse which, together with its partner on distant Lundy Island, guides ships into the Bristol Channel. The monastery also organises spiritual retreats for those who want to stay and enjoy a few days of quiet reflection.
Flat Holm great for... beer
It’s just five miles (8km) from Cardiff, but over the years Flat Holm has been a saint’s retreat, a haven for pirates and smugglers, a cholera sanatorium, a gun battery, and – to stop ships bumping into it – a good place for a lighthouse. You can take a day trip from Cardiff and explore the island – there’s even a tiny pub called the Gull and Leek.
Llanddwyn great for... romance
There isn’t a more romantic spot in Wales (or maybe the world…) than Llanddwyn Island. Walk out through the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve onto a slender, sand-fringed island, past the ruins of a chapel dedicated to St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. And at the tip, a pair of simple whitewashed lighthouses, with breath-taking views across to Snowdonia.
Nash Point great for... a holiday
There are actually two lighthouses here on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast’s layer-cake cliffs, both built to warn shipping away from a treacherous sand bank. The larger was manned until 1998; now Nash Point is the only working Welsh lighthouse to have a visitor centre and to be a licensed wedding venue. There’s a gem of a pub, the Plough & Harrow, within walking distance.
South Stack great for... location
South Stack has perhaps the most spectacular setting of any Welsh lighthouse. Cross onto the island of Anglesey, then hop over onto Holy Island, and finally down 400 stone steps onto yet another tiny island, where there are tours to the top of the 134ft (41m) tower. The surrounding cliffs form the South Stack RSPB reserve where peregrines, choughs and countless sea birds live.
Skokholm great for...birds
Skokholm and Skomer Islands form one of the most important seabird breeding sites in the world, including thousands of puffins, Manx shearwaters and storm petrels. Skokholm lighthouse was recently bought by the Wildlife Trust and converted into accommodation for the island’s wardens and visiting researchers. There are day trips to Skomer, or for a proper getaway, you can stay on the islands, which lie in a glorious Marine Nature Reserve that’s populated by dolphins, porpoises and lots of grey seals.
Trwyn Du great for... walking
We like the walk out to the headland at Penmon Point, which has lovely views towards Puffin Island, and back across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia. When it was built in the 1830s, Trwyn Du lighthouse featured a pioneering lavatory, which was supposed to stop seawater from surging back up the pipe. It didn’t work – which is perhaps why it has been unmanned since 1922.