Killantringan Lighthouse is located at Black Head but takes its name from the sweeping sandy bay to the north at Killantringan.
Application to exhibit a light at Black Head was granted in 1897 by the Board of Trade. The engineer’s report also recommended a powerful fog signal.
Killantringan Lighthouse was built in 1900. It was designed by David A Stevenson and constructed of stone and sandstone.
The light was first exhibited in October 1900, replacing the lighthouse at Portpatrick. It displayed a double flash every 30 seconds. The 72ft high tower has 63 steps leading up to the lantern, and its light had an elevation of 161ft above sea level.
Leading out from the front of the lighthouse a pathway extends down to the foghorn. Engines pumped air down to it, blasting three times in quick succession every 90 seconds. The signal was discontinued in 1987, but the large trumpet remains.
Shortly after the lighthouse came into operation the Principal Keeper noticed a fishing boat in distress. He quickly alerted the nearby Portpatrick Lifeboat by firing a distress rocket. As a result of his fast reaction, the crew were all rescued.
Evidence of a recent wreck can be seen in the bay below the foghorn, at Portamaggie. At 4am on Friday 26 February 1982, a 440-ton Cypriot registered container vessel, the Craigantlet, came to grief. She was bound for Liverpool after leaving Belfast.
The rescue was coordinated by the Coastguard centre at Ramsey, on the Isle of Man. The Lifeboat crew and Cliff Rescue teams at Portpatrick stood by. All 11 of the crew were airlifted to safety by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter, from HMS Gannet, based in Prestwick.
There was much controversy over the washed-up vessel, as her cargo did not correspond to the ship’s records. It was believed the ship contained dangerous chemicals, so the lighthouse keepers and families had to be evacuated from the area. Most of the cargo, held in large tanks, was washed ashore within the first few days. The lighthouse staff and their families were unable to return to the lighthouse for 42 days. During that time, a temporary light was installed. The broken, rusted vessel still lies in the bay, being slowly swallowed up by the sea.
The lighthouse was automated in 1988. Following a review of navigation aids, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 2007. Many of its original features remain, although the lighting apparatus has since been removed.
Killantringan Lighthouse is sited along the Southern Upland Way, which starts at Portpatrick. The walk stretches 212 across to the east of Scotland finishing at Cockburnspath. It is a reasonably challenging walk, with several beaches and steep steps to climb along the way, but it is well worth it. Arriving at Portmaggie, Killantringan Lighthouse comes into view, on the next headland. Having followed the coast northwards for three miles from Portpatrick, the walk turns inland to make its way to Scotland’s east coast.