Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse was one of the first lighthouses to be established by the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses.
The Kintyre Peninsula is around 30 miles long and no more than 11 miles from east to west coast. The peninsula stretches from West Loch Tarbert to the Mull of Kintyre at the most southwesterly tip. The tip of the peninsula is only 12 miles away from the coast of Northern Ireland.
The cliffs here are some of the highest on the west coast of Scotland.
In 1782 a series of storms hit the coast, and several boats were wrecked around the Kintyre peninsula.
Thomas Smith was appointed to the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1787 and was responsible for its design. The lighthouse was first lit on 1st November 1788.
Initially, there was no track to the lighthouse, and all materials had to be taken by horseback from Carskey Bay six miles away. As a result, the lighthouse took 22 months to build.
Due to its elevation, the tower is only 12 metres high, with 15 steps to the lantern.
The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1824. Robert Stevenson was responsible for the design of the second tower.
A fog signal was built later in 1876.
Initially, the light displayed a fixed light, but in 1906 this was changed to a flashing character.
The lighthouse was electrified in 1976 and automated in 1996.
On a clear evening, the lights of Rhinns of Islay, Rathlin East, Rathlin Rue Point, and Maidens can be seen from the lighthouse.
A narrow road from the car park on the top of the cliff leads to the lighthouse. From here, the road hairpins down to the lighthouse a mile and a quarter beyond. The lighthouse has an elevation of over 300 feet, yet the car park is over 1,100 feet above sea level.
The Mull of Kintyre, a wild and remote area in the southwest corner of the peninsula, was immortalised in Paul McCartney’s song of the same name in 1977.
On 2nd June 1994, one of the worst accidents in the RAF’s peacetime history occurred. An RAF Chinook helicopter crashed close to the lighthouse, with the loss of all 25 passengers and four crew. There is a memorial to those lost on the headland.