The square white tower of Duncansby Head Lighthouse is located on the most north-easterly point of mainland Scotland looking across the Pentland Firth. Near to John O’Groats, it was the last Stevenson lighthouse built on the Scottish mainland.
It is one of the few square lighthouses, typical of more recent designs.
In the days of sail, the tidal streams of the Pentland Firth gave it the name ‘Hells Mouth’. As the waters of the Atlantic flow into the North Sea and ebb, eddies, races and swirling overfalls form, and around the Pentland Skerries, the tides can run at around 10 knots.
During the First World War, in 1914, a temporary fog signal was set up, and following the hostilities, the lighthouse was established in 1924. During the Second World War, the lighthouse was machine-gunned. Fortunately, no one was injured, and no serious damage was sustained.
You can see the impressive Duncansby Stacks below the cliffs. From this turning point north to the east coast, you can see Stroma, Pentland Skerries, and Cantick Head lighthouses. You can also see Roseness, Copinsay on Orkney, and Noss Head to the south.
Some of the buildings have since been demolished, including the garage and old quarters. The former fog horn has now been restored and relocated as a memorial at John O’Groats