Cornwall exhibits a spectacular collection of lighthouses that have guided vessels safely around its treacherous coastline for hundreds of years. Each strategically placed lighthouse has a unique history and often established after tragic events and loss of life. These impressive feats of engineering are now all unmanned but their symbolic presence along the coast provide a humble reminder of the many lives they have saved over the years.
Bishop Rock Lighthouse
The most south westerly lighthouse in this list, Bishop Rock lighthouse is perched upon a tiny rock 28 miles west of Land’s End, Cornwall. Originally built in 1847, the first attempt was washed away in a storm and the second build was completed in 1858. Reaching 49m into the air, the lighthouse is topped with a helipad and has been fully automated since December 1992.
Penninis Lighthouse on St Mary’s Island in the Isles of Scilly is a small automatic lighthouse built to guide ships into the safety of the inner sound. Built in 1911, it replaced the ancient lighthouse on the neighbouring island of St Agnes that had been in operation since the 1600s. Rising 36 meters above sea level, Peninnis lighthouse can been seen from over 9 nautical miles away on a clear night.
Wolf Rock Lighthouse
So-named due to eerie sound of the wind as it funnels past this outcrop of granite, the Wolf Rock lighthouse is 41m high and situated 8 nautical miles west of Land’s End, Cornwall. First established in 1795, the Wolf Rock lighthouse began life as a wrought iron beacon but was fully developed into a granite lighthouse in 1986. Head over to Nanjizal for impressive views of the Wolf Rock lighthouse.
Protecting marine traffic from the savage cliffs of West Cornwall for over 200 years is the Longships lighthouse. Built in 1791, the Longships lighthouse sits on Carn Bras, the largest of the ledges in the outcrop, rising to 35m and can be seen for over 15 nautical miles away. Fantastic views of the lighthouse can be found at Priest’s Cove and Cot Valley in West Cornwall.
Situated in West Cornwall, Pendeen lighthouse has been guiding vessels around the inhospitable coastline of Cape Cornwall and Gurnards Head for over 100 years. Built in 1900, Pendeen lighthouse sits 59 meters above sea level and is accompanied by a fog signal that is often audible during mistier days. Pendeen lighthouse is clearly visible from Portheras Cove, West Cornwall.
The white octagonal tower of Godrevy lighthouse is located 300m north of Godrevy Head in St Ives Bay, West Cornwall. The iconic lighthouse is said to have inspired Virginia Woolf when she wrote The Lighthouse and has been in operation since 1859. Standing 28m above sea level, the lighthouse is now fully automated and powered via solar panels situated around its base. Head to the beach of Godrevy for clear views of the lighthouse.
Trevose Head Lighthouse
Originally built to guide trading ships travelling in and out of the Bristol channel, the Trevose Head lighthouse sits on the most north westerly reaches of the headland near Padstow. The lamp rises to 62m above sea level and can be seen from over 20 nautical miles a away. Erected in 1847 the Trevose Head lighthouse was automated in 1995 and can now be rented as a holiday cottage.
Tater Du Lighthouse
The most modern lighthouse on our list, Tater Du was built in 1965 as a result of the loss of the Spanish ship Juan Ferrer at Boscawen Point. Overlooking the Inner and Outer Bucks, two semi-submerged rocks, Tater Du is a located on the south coast of Cornwall near Penzance. The small white building rises only 15m above sea level and guides working boats into Newlyn.
Situated on the south coast of Cornwall, The Lizard lighthouse marks the most southerly point of mainland Britain and overlooks some of the most treacherous tidal waters in the UK. Originally established in 1617, the lighthouse soon began to run out of money and was demolished in 1630. The twin towered lighthouse we see today was rebuilt in 1751 and Trinity House now looks after it. Head down to Polpeor Cove on the Lizard to see the lighthouse close up.
St Anthony’s Lighthouse
Situated at the eastern edge of Falmouth Harbour, St Anthony lighthouse has been guiding vessels past the Mannacles and safely into the port since 1835. Before the lighthouse was built a large red flag was hung in the boughs of an elm tree to aid navigation. Reaching 22 meters above sea level, St Anthony’s lighthouse can be seen from over 16 nautical miles away. Head down to nearby Great Molunan Cove to see the lighthouse up close.