Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse marks the southern side of the northwestern entrance to the Sound of Mull. It is located a short walk away from Tobermory.
In 1853 Lighthouse Engineer David Stevenson recommended that a light be established near Tobermory, on the island of Mull. Rubha nan Gall, meaning “stranger’s point” in Gaelic, was chosen as the location to build the new lighthouse.
A new condensing apparatus was designed by Thomas Stevenson. The optic concentrated light in the approaching directions. Across the Sound, where the distance was not so great, the light was less intense.
In 1894, Oxcars Lighthouse in the Firth of Forth was automated using a new gas system. As a result, the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses looked to reduce the number of keepers at some lighthouses. The process of automation began in 1897, and eventually Rubha nan Gall became one of those lights retaining only one keeper.
In 1943 Keeper John Clark was transferred to Rubha nan Gall with his wife. Clark was a senior keeper of almost 30 years’ service. However, health problems were the reason for the move to the apparently “easier” light at Rubha nan Gall. Contact with the outside world was via the 25-minute coastal pathway to Tobermory. Clark’s youngest daughter Jean joined her parents at the lighthouse whilst her husband was serving with the Army. Two daughters were born at the remote cottages – the doctor and midwife having to attend via that same coastal pathway.
The lighthouse was fully automated in 1960. The cottages were sold off and privately occupied for over 20 years. By 2013 the cottages had been empty for around 15 years. Four years of extensive renovation began to restore them to their former glory. The new owners worked to maintain as many of the original features as possible.
Scotland is renowned for its remote corners, and many lighthouses are very isolated. Rubha nan Gall is one such hideaway. It should be noted that although having been in operation for over 160 years, there is no road access to the lighthouse.
The footpath to the lighthouse can be muddy and narrow in places, so suitable footwear is advised. Power is supplied off-grid, mainly via solar power.