McArthurs head Lighthouse Sound of Islay

McArthur's Head lighthouse is beautifully situated on a promontory at the entrance to the Sound of Islay, on a high cliff, at an elevation of 39 metres. This lighthouse, one of the seven lighthouses on Islay, was established in 1861 and built by David and Thomas Stevenson, members of the Stevenson family of lighthouse builders and responsible for most of Scotland's lighthouses. The height of the tower is 13 metres and it flashes every 10 seconds. For some great views of the sweeping lights go to the Bunnahabhain road on a clear moonlit night whilst looking east over the Sound of Islay. Sheer magic!


McArthur's Head lighthouse Sound of Islay, Isle of Jura on the right

The closest most people get to this lighthouse is from the ferry to Port Askaig. I myself have been much closer when I raced the Sound of Islay in a speed boat together with Arra Fletcher. A boat by the way is one of the easiest ways to reach the lighthouse. The view from below is quite impressive but the many steps towards the top of the cliff don't look all that inviting. Another way to access McArthur's Head Lighthouse is a stiff walk from Ardtalla, but this is not the most easiest of walks, specially when there has been a lot of rain. The terrain can be very boggy which makes the going quite rough. Continue reading......

Ardtalla is not the only starting point for a walk to the lighthouse. Storakaig on the Glen Road is another place from where you can access the lighthouse on foot and there are other places to start from as well. When I sat down this afternoon and wrote this post I remembered a story from Dougie MacDougall in his booklet "As Long as Water Flows". Dougie MacDougall was a lighthouse boatman, just like his father did before him, and he served the Sound of Islay lights for 45 years until his retirement in 1977. McArthur's Head lighthouse was one of his responsibilities and the following story shows what a "journey" it could be to visit McArthur's Head Lighthouse from Port Askaig in his days:


McArthur's Head lighthouse Sound of Islay

Dougie MacDougall: From Port Askaig to Rhuvaal is roughly six sea miles, the same to McArthur's head. If you had to walk it was a good deal longer. This happened mostly in winter time, many a time with the full force of the elements to contend with, including darkness. The people at home had a worrying time for there was no telephone in those days to let them know of the delay. then the crew would have to walk back to retrieve the boat as soon as weahter permitted. The walking from and to Rhuvaal was not too bad for it was mostly all moorland but numerous burns blocked the way. From and to McArthur's Head was a different story; the walking was treacherous for the shore was very rough and rocky. The burns in spate were very difficult to navigate on a dark night. You were sometimes up to your waist in icy cold water, it was no picnic. These men took it all in their stride; danger and hardship were their constant shadow, but they always shook it off with simple words, "it could be worse."

When Teresa Morris of Islay Wildscapes visited the bothy at Proaig last week on a beautiful sunny day, she continued heading north to visit McArthurs Head lighthouse. According to Teresa the walk was very tough and at times she disappeared knee deep in bog pools. She did however made it to the lighthouse and she took some beautiful images.


McArthur's Head lighthouse Sound of Islay


Distant view of McArthur's Head lighthouse and the Isle of Jura


Tag: lighthouse mcarthurs head sound of islay proaig jura photography wildscapes

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