Loch Indaal Lighthouse

Loch Indaal Lighthouse

Loch Indaal Lighthouse is also known as Rubh’an Duin. The lighthouse is on the southeast side of the Rhinns of Islay off Scotland’s southwest coast.  As the lighthouse is located near the town of Port Charlotte, it is often called the Port Charlotte light. 

Islay’s population is mainly centred around the villages of Bowmore, Port Ellen and Port Charlotte. Apart from a few other smaller villages, the rest of the island is sparsely populated and mainly agricultural. 

Port Charlotte was founded in 1828 by Walter Frederick Campbell and named after his mother.   In the 1830s, the island population decreased from its peak of 15,000 due to the Highland Clearances. Today’s population is around 3,000.  Most emigrants from Islay made new homes in Canada, USA and Australia.

Loch Indaal

Loch Indaal Lighthouse was built in 1869 to the design of David and Thomas Stevenson.  The white brick tower with a black lantern is 45ft high.

Following the conversion to oil gas in 1897, the complement was reduced from two to one keeper and his family.  The light was converted to a paraffin vapour burner in 1905.

The southwestern tip of the main island is a rocky region called The Oa. On the island are several lochs, including Loch Indaal, a sea loch separating the Rhinns of Islay from the rest of the island. 

An American memorial shaped like a lighthouse can be seen at the Mull of Oa.  The American Red Cross created it to commemorate the loss of two troop ships in 1918. 

The Tuscania, a passenger liner, was on its way from New Jersey to the coast of France with 2,000 American soldiers and a crew of more than 300. At Halifax, Nova Scotia, they joined a convoy and entered the British waters between Islay and Northern Ireland on 5th February.  The convoy was followed by a German submarine, U77, which torpedoed the Tuscania.  She sank after a few hours seven miles off the Islay coast near the Oa peninsula.  An estimated 230 lives were lost. A few months later, on 6th October 1918, only a few miles from where the Tuscania sank, HMS Otranto carried troops from New York to Glasgow.  The vessel collided with the steamship HMS Kashmir during a heavy storm.

The former Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage

The village of Port Charlotte is a ten-minute walk away from the lighthouse.  The neighbouring island of Jura is a 5-minute ferry ride from Port Askaig on the island’s east coast.

Islay is well known for its distilleries, and the nearby Bruichladdich distillery is just a few miles away from the lighthouse.  

The former Lighthouse Keepers’ house has undergone extensive renovation and has 4 acres of land above the shore.

A short walk to the village, you can find the Museum of Islay Life. The Museum has a sundial from Loch Indaal Lighthouse.   It was presented to the Museum by the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1983.

The Loch Indaal Sundial at the Museum of Islay Life
Established: 1869
Engineer: David and Thomas Stevenson
Tower Height: 13 metres
Light Character: Fl (2) W R 7 s
Light Range: W 11 miles, R 8 miles
Elevation: 15 metres