Foula Lighthouse

Foula Lighthouse
Photo: John Best

Foula Lighthouse is located on the island of the same name which guards the western approaches to Shetland.  Foula Lighthouse is located at South Ness and was established in 1986.

Foula is one of the most remote inhabited islands and has been owned by the Holbourne family since the start of the 20th century. 

The island is around 20 miles west of Shetland mainland and is about 2.5 by 3.5 miles.  It is the seventh-largest and most westerly of the Shetland Islands.

Foula Lighthouse
Photo: John Best

The Hoevdi Grund or Shaalds of Foula are a hidden reef around two miles east of the island, causing a hazard to shipping.  In 1914 the RMS Oceanic foundered off the nearby Shaalds of Foula.

However, the need for a lighthouse came into sharp focus with the increase in oil tankers using the western route. Point of Fethaland, Yell Sound and North Rona Lighthouses were also established around the same time.

Initially run by acetylene gas, the lighthouse was modernised between 1999 – 2000 and is now powered by solar and wind power.   The original fourth-order optic was retained during the refurbishment. 

Foula Lighthouse
Photo: John Best

At the northern end of the island is the natural arch Gaada Stack.  Da Sneck Ida Smaalie is a 30-metre deep and 2-metre wide crack in the cliffs on the south-western side of the island.

Foula featured as the location for the 1937 film The Edge of the World.  Later a documentary Return to the Edge of the World was made in 1978 combining a reunion of the cast and crew 40 years on.

Established: 1986
Light Character: Fl (3) W 15 s
Light Range: 17 miles
Elevation: 36 metres