Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Unusual Egyptian style buildings
HistoryThe rocky coast of the west Highlands creates a constant challenge for shipping. In 1845 the Northern Lighthouse Board tried to alleviate some of the risk to ships passing Ardnamurchan Point by calling upon the famous Stevenson family of engineers to design a lighthouse. Twenty acres of land was purchased from the local laird, Mr Alexander Cameron, who received £20 for the land itself and £58 for any inconvenience caused by the building works.
The new lighthouse was designed by Alan Stevenson, uncle of novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. The new tower is an unusual style that can best be described as Egyptian, and is unlike any other Stevenson lighthouses in Scotland. The Egyptian style can easily bee seen in the tower entrance, the corbelled top of the tower, and the chimneys of the keeper's cottages.
Work was actually carried out by a contractor named Hume, and it took 3 years to build the lighthouse. Things might have progressed more quickly, but an outbreak of scurvy caused a delay, and a doctor had to be brought out to treat the workmen. The lighthouse came into use on 5 October 1849.
The lighthouse is still functional, though the light is now operated automatically from the Northern Lighthouse Board's offices in Edinburgh. The lights reach 24 nautical miles out to sea.
The families were as self-sufficient as possible, keeping sheep and cows at the lighthouse, and growing whatever crops they could. It was a lonely, isolated existence, and a hard life. One of the former keeper's cottages has been converted into a holiday cottage, so if you fancy staying in the incredibly scenic surroundings of Ardnamurchan Point, you're in luck!
No one seems to know for certain what the name Ardnamurchan means. One theory is that it comes from the Gaelic for 'hill of the great sea', another that it means 'point of the otters'. The most intriguing, though not necessarily the most historically accurate, is the theory that it comes from the Gaelic for 'point of the pirates'.
VisitingThere is a small visitor centre at the end of the minor road leading to the lighthouse. There are 2 car parks, one suitable for larger vehicles like camer vans, the other, lower car park for normal automobiles. There is a coffee shop and toilet facilities. If you don't feel up to climbing the lighthouse stairs you can still access to viewing platform where you will find the huge foghorn. You can often spot dolphins and whales from the viewing area.
The lighthouse is usually open daily from April through September but please do check the official website to make sure. There are regular guided tours throughout the day, usually on the half-hour. At the height of the summer season these tours can be quite busy so pre-booking might be a good idea.
There are 152 steps inside the lighthouse tower, but the reward for your exertion is a fabulous view over the surrounding coastline.
Ardnamurchan Point is a truly stunning area; the coast is a rocky landscape of reefs and mountainous terrain. The lighthouse itself is a magnificent example of Victorian engineering, set in a magnificent cliff-top landscape.
About Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse
Address: Ardnamurchan Point, Kilchoan, Highlands, Scotland, PH36 4LN
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: At the furthest extremity of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Free parking area. Be aware that the postcode may misdirect satnavs to Portuairk! Follow the clearly signed turnoff from the B8007 to the lighthouse.
Website: Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Mingary Castle - 6 miles (Castle)
Castle Tioram - 15.7 miles (Castle)
Prince's Walk, Kinlochmoidart - 18.5 miles (Countryside)
MacQuarie Mausoleum - 19 miles (Historic Church)
Inchkenneth Chapel - 19.9 miles (Historic Church)
Staffa - 20.4 miles (Countryside)
Prince's Cairn, Loch nan Uamh - 21.6 miles (Countryside)
Canna - 25.4 miles (Countryside)
Nearest Accommodation to Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.