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Lighthouse Walks in the UK and Ireland

Discovering Lighthouse Walks in the UK and Ireland

When it comes to picturesque coastal walks, there’s something magical about the presence of a lighthouse. They offer a glimpse into maritime history and some of the most scenic and invigorating walks you can experience. And if you’re staying at a lighthouse, what better way to get out and enjoy the coastline?

Whether you’re a dedicated hiker or looking for a leisurely stroll, join me on this lighthouse journey. We will explore lighthouse walks that combine stunning landscapes, rich history, and a breath of fresh sea air. So, lace up your walking boots, breathe in the salty sea air, and let these lighthouses guide you on your next unforgettable adventure.

lighthouse walk Clear Island

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Please note that some lighthouses offer holiday accommodation or may be privately owned. Please take care not to trespass or drive on private property. 

Planning your lighthouse walks

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan your lighthouse walk:

1. Choose Your Destination

Our coastline boasts a variety of picturesque lighthouses scattered along its rugged coastline. The list below will get you started, but there are plenty more to choose from. Take a look at the Lighthouse Listings for more inspiration.

2. Check Accessibility

Find out if the lighthouse you’re interested in visiting is accessible to the public. Some lighthouses offer guided tours, while others may have restricted access due to their remote locations.

3. Research Walking Routes

There are many lighthouses near coastal paths or trails, providing scenic walking opportunities. Check local guides, websites, or hiking apps for information on trails and routes. Find out how difficult or easy they are likely to be so you are prepared.

Rathlin lighthouse walks sign

4. Plan Your Itinerary

Create an itinerary for your walk. Include the starting point, distance, estimated walking time, and any notable landmarks or viewpoints along the way.

5. Check the Weather

The weather can be unpredictable. Check the weather forecast for your walk day and be prepared for changing conditions. Dress in layers, wear appropriate footwear and bring rain gear if necessary.

6. Safety Precautions

Prioritise safety by informing someone of your plans and estimated return time. Carry essentials such as a map, compass or GPS device. Ensure your phone is fully charged, and carry a basic first-aid kit.

man looking at his app

7. Pack Supplies:

Depending on the length and remoteness of your walk, pack essential supplies. Remember to take water, snacks, sunblock, insect repellent, and any necessary medications.

8. Respect Nature and Wildlife

Coastal areas are often rich in wildlife. Respect the natural environment, keep noise levels down, and observe wildlife from afar. Take any litter with you and don’t leave any trace of your visit.

9. Capture Memories

Bring your camera or phone to capture the breathtaking views, unique rock formations, and, of course, the lighthouse itself. But remember, experiencing the moment is just as important as taking photos.

10. Enjoy the Journey!

Finally, savour every moment of your lighthouse walk. Take your time to appreciate the coastal beauty, the sound of the waves, and the history behind these iconic structures. It’s not just about reaching the destination. It’s also about the journey along the way!

walk killantringan

I hope your lighthouse walk will be a memorable and rewarding experience.

Lighthouse Walks

Here is a selection of lighthouse walks to enjoy, including some of my favourites. Check out the Lighthouse Listings for more inspiration.

North Devon: Bull Point Lighthouse Circular Walk

Start at the village car park in Mortehoe, north of Woolacombe. Head northwest following signs to the South West Coast Path onto Morte Point, passing the cemetery on your left.

The route passes Rockham Bay, which offers stunning views of the rocky coastline. From here, Bull Point Lighthouse will become visible.

Photo: Patrick Tubby

A path around the back of the lighthouse takes you back onto the coastal path. Further along the bay, steps zig-zag down to Bennett’s Mouth, a secluded bay, before you head back towards Mortehoe village.

For more details on the walk, visit the National Trust website

  • Where to stay: Bull Point Lighthouse
  • Start: Mortehoe village car park:
  • What3Words: ///puts.snowboard.copes 
  • Walk Length: 6 miles
  • Time: 2.5 – 3 hours approx
  • Difficulty: Challenging, rocky in places
  • Dog friendly: Yes

Isle of Wight: St Catherine’s Lighthouse Circular Walk

The Isle of Wight is accessible by ferry from several mainland ports, including Portsmouth, Southampton, and Lymington. St Catherine’s Point is at the southern tip of the island.

For the walk, start at Niton car park on the old Blackgang Road. Heading towards Knowles Farm, the cliff path leads towards St Catherine’s Lighthouse.

St Catherines lighthouse

Look out for the base of Marconi’s mast just south of Knowles Farm Cottage. Guglielmo Marconi used this mast to transmit radio signals to the Lizard Radio Telegraph Station.

Following the outside boundary of the lighthouse, head towards Castlehaven. From here, head up the road towards the Buddle Inn, which is worth a stop if you need refreshment.

Heading into Niton, it is worth finding St John’s Church in the village centre, where you will find the lighthouse keepers’ memorial before you head back to the car park. This headstone is dedicated to the keepers who were killed during the enemy bombing of St Catherine’s Lighthouse during the Second World War.

St Catherine's memorial

For more details on the walk, visit the National Trust website

  • Where to stay: St Catherine’s Lighthouse
  • Start: Old Blackgang Road car park near Niton:
  • What3Words: ///direct.glides.cubed 
  • Walk Length: 3.5 miles
  • Time: 2 – 2.5 hours approx
  • Difficulty: Moderate, uneven and steep in places
  • Dog friendly: Yes

North Yorkshire: Whitby Lighthouse along the Cleveland Way

The walk to Whitby High Lighthouse starts in the lovely seaside town of Whitby, which has a beautiful harbour and harbour lighthouses.

Whitby Harbour and Abbey

The clifftop walk can start either in the town or at the Abbey. From the Abbey, head along the clifftop, passing Saltwick Bay along the Cleveland Way.

Whitby Harbour is bustling with activity, and there are plenty of places to eat and drink. You can walk along both pierheads to the harbour lighthouses.

Start the walk on the eastern side of the town and head up the famous 199 steps to Whitby Abbey. Alternatively, you can start at Whitby Abbey and park here if you prefer to skip the climb!

Whitby High Lighthouse

From the Abbey, you can pick up the Cleveland Way, pass the Coastguards Cottage, and follow the East Cliff coastal path. You will pass a holiday park at Saltwick Bay until you reach Hornblower Lodge, the former fog signal, and the nearby Whitby High lighthouse.

For the return journey, you can either retrace your steps along the coastal path or take an inland route, perhaps passing through Pannett Park, which provides a tranquil green space in the heart of Whitby and houses the excellent Whitby Museum.

For more details about the walk, visit the Walks in Yorkshire website.

  • Where to stay: Whitby High Lighthouse
  • Start: Whitby Abbey Car Park, Abbey Lane, YO22
  • What3Words: ///unsigned.nutrients.scoots
  • Walk Length: 5.2 miles
  • Time: 2 – 2.5 hours approx
  • Difficulty: Moderate, depending on where you start
  • Dog friendly: Yes, though be aware of strong winds and sheer cliff edges.

South Wales: Llantwit Major to Nash Point Lighthouse

This is a lovely walk, which I have walked while staying at Nash Point Lighthouse.

Start at the beach car park at Llantwit Major and follow the Wales Coast Path to Tresilian Bay, where you can admire the cliffs. This coastline has many caves and rocky beaches, but make sure you don’t get cut off by the tide. It is worth a detour to St Donat’s Castle, which dates back to the 12th century.

Nash Point Lighthouse
Nash Point Lighthouse

The walk ends at Nash Point Lighthouse, the last lighthouse in Wales to be automated. You can stay in two of the lighthouse cottages.

For more details on the walk, visit the Wales Coast Path website.

Another favourite walk of mine takes you from Nash Point Lighthouse westwards to Ogmore by the Sea.

For more lighthouse walks in Wales, check out Walks to Lighthouses book by Alf Alderson.

  • Where to stay: Nash Point Lighthouse
  • Start: Llantwit Major Beach Car Park, Colhugh St, Llantwit Major CF61
  • What3Words: ///recur.shadow.girder
  • Walk Length: 3 miles
  • Time: 1- 2 hours approx
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dog friendly: Yes, but be aware of cliff edges

Portpatrick to Killantringan Lighthouse

This has to be one of my favourite walks, which follows the start (or end) of the Southern Upland Way, Scotland’s only coast-to-coast walk, starting at Portptrick and finishing at Cockburnspath. I have tended to walk this either from Killantringan Lighthouse, where I have stayed, or from the pretty harbour town of Portpatrick rather than the circular route along the main road.

Portpatrick
Portpatrick

Start in Portpatrick, where you will find the pretty harbour lighthouse by the Lighthouse Pottery. From Portpatrick harbour, climb the steps up to follow the clifftop coast path, passing the golf course and admire the spectacular views over the harbour and across to Ireland on a clear day.

Killantringan Lighthouse
Killantringan Lighthouse

Several secluded beaches are along the way, with a pretty waterfall on one of them. Eventually, across the clifftop, you will see Killantringan Lighthouse. At Portamaggie Bay, just below the lighthouse, are the remains of the wreck of the Craigantlet, which came to grief here in 1982.

Follow the lighthouse road back to the main road, where the Southern Upland Way heads in the other direction. Head for Dunskey Gardens and back to Portpatrick. Alternatively, follow the cliff-top route back to Portpatrick.

This walk is moderately difficult in places due to the rocky terrain and steep climbs.

County Antrim: Blackhead Lighthouse Circuit

The Blackhead Coastal Path starts at the coastal town of Whitehead and follows the Blackhead Coastal Path, which volunteers have carefully restored.

Blackhead
Blackhead Lighthouse.
The coastal path passes by the lighthouse and sweeps down to the base of the cliffs.
Photo: Patrick Tubby

The path starts by following a flat section of shoreline and then climbs steep steps to Blackhead Lighthouse. It winds around the front of the lighthouse and passes some caves where a school teacher is said to have lived. There are some informative boards along the way.

More details about the Blackhead Coastal Path.

If you have more time in the area and would like to be challenged, visit the Gobbins Coastal Cliff Path at Islandmagee. A guide will accompany you and will be required to wear sturdy boots and a hard hat. It’s more challenging but a fantastic experience!

  • Where to stay: Blackhead Lighthouse
  • Start: Whitehead Car Park, Old Castle Road, BT38 9ND
  • What3Words: ///encoding.august.first
  • Walk Length: 2.5 miles
  • Time: 1.5 hours approx
  • Difficulty: Moderate, some steep steps
  • Dog friendly: Yes, but dogs must be kept on a lead.

If you have a favourite lighthouse walk you’d like to share, please let me know!

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In A Lighthouse

Throughout the world, lighthouses are available.