The first lighthouse I ever visited was South Stack Lighthouse in Anglesey when I was nine years old. I remember climbing down the zigzag cliff top steps to the rickety bridge across to the island where the lighthouse keeper greeted us and gave us a guided tour. South Stack is still open to the public, and today you can still descend those 400 steps. A new, sturdier bridge was built 1997, though you still have to climb those 400 steps back after you’ve climbed the lighthouse!
Many other lighthouses are also open to the public, and I encourage you to visit them and enjoy their workings and find out about their history.
I can also recall visiting Start Point Lighthouse in Devon, aged twelve, whilst on holiday in the nearby village of Strete, and this is where my lighthouse passion really began. I remember being woken early one morning by the familiar moan of its foghorn. Most lighthouses have now been silenced, but a few do still have a fog signal.
My first stay in a lighthouse was at Great Orme’s Head, Llandudno, in 1994. That particular lighthouse has been decommissioned, so I was able to stay actually in the lantern room, which had spectacular views out to sea. Since that time I have stayed in a number of former lighthouse keepers’ cottages, both in the UK and abroad. I even spent my honeymoon at Nash Point Lighthouse, where Patrick and I were married.
Being an active member of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers we visit lighthouses whenever we can, and have also enjoyed staying in lighthouse cottages with friends. Often there are several cottages available to rent, so it’s a great way to share the experience, as well as the cost.
How the book began
Following my stay at Great Orme’s Head, I discovered several other lighthouses offering holiday accommodation, and set out to find out just how many there were. When I first started my research, the internet was in its infancy, and I just had a basic typewriter, so in my spare time I would write letters to organisations and Tourist Information Centres hoping that they would furnish me with the information.
I then decided to turn my research into a book, and the very first edition of Lighthouse Accommodation Britain and Worldwide was published in March 1999. Twenty years later, the sixth edition has now been published.
I decided to publish the book myself, and more editions were added over time. The biggest difficulty is keeping a book like this up to date, but getting enough copies printed to make it cost-effective. However, this time around my latest edition has been published using a print on demand service, so it should be much easier to update. This edition is also available in Kindle format.
In my book, the history of each of the UK lights is not intended to be comprehensive; some have vast histories which would need a separate book of their own, and I have therefore tried to maintain a balance by giving where possible, equal coverage to each lighthouse.
I hope that I have provided a taste of each unique building. I have also included lightships other lighthouse-related vessels and even buildings associated with lighthouses to make the list as comprehensive as possible. Lighthouses are usually in beautiful locations, although the very nature of a lighthouse is to warn ships away from treacherous waters. Many Lighthouse Keepers have written accounts of their lives, most with fond reminiscences, and there are a number of interesting books about their way of life.
A list of all known overseas lighthouses and associated buildings or vessels offering holiday accommodation is also provided in the book, so you will be spoilt for choice! Many also have museums and visitor centres nearby which are worth visiting.
I hope you find your lighthouse stay enjoyable. Explore the area, find out about its history, and I hope you will want to come back for more!