With many lighthouses in the UK being automated or decommissioned, these buildings are now finding a new purpose as stunning holiday lets. We pick out some of our favourites for you to try… Words: Alex Fisher
OLD LIGHT LOWER
Lundy Island, Bristol Channel
HISTORY: Designed by renowned architect and civil engineer Daniel Asher Alexander, this lighthouse was completed in 1820.
WHY HERE? Sit on the deckchairs at the top of the tower at night and watch for shooting stars. Although the accommodation is in the keepers’ quarters, the tower is open to residents any time of day or night.
WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO? People visit Lundy for the wildlife, the quiet and the seclusion. You can rock climb, dive and snorkel, but do not expect entertainment beyond the natural beauty and scenery. There is one shop and a pub on the island.
SLEEPS? The upper flat sleeps five, the lower flat sleeps four, and the adjacent cottage sleeps one.
WHAT DOES IT COST? From £301 for a four-night stay.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit landmarktrust.org.uk.
Photo: Stuart Leavy
BELLE TOUT B&B
HISTORY: A wooden lighthouse was first erected at this spot in 1828. The permanent version you can see today was built in 1832 and is visible for 20 miles out to sea. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1902. In 1999 the entire building was moved back 17 metres from the cliff edge because of erosion.
WHY HERE? Beautifully renovated, this gorgeous property offers stunning 360-degree views from the lantern room, where breakfast is served. All six bedrooms are in the original lighthouse. Sleep in a luxurious double room with panoramic views over the South Downs or a cosy loft bed in the ‘cabin’ – the original keepers’ bunk room.
WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO? Explore the stunning cliff views and beaches that make up the The Seven Sisters and follow the winding river down to Cuckmere Haven. Eat at the Thai Terre – just five minutes’ drive away – which offers traditional Thai cuisine, but with locally sourced seafood from sustainable stocks.
SLEEPS? There are six double bedrooms.
WHAT DOES IT COST? From £155 per room, per night for two people.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit belletout.co.uk.
Photo: Rob Wassell
CORRAN LIGHTHOUSE LODGE
HISTORY: Built in 1857 by Robert Louis Stevenson’s father and uncle, Corran was one of a chain of lighthouses that marked the route to the Caledonian Canal. The lighthouse is still operational (without the foghorn), and the accommodation is in the original lighthouse keepers’ cottages.
WHY HERE? There are fantastic views over the tidal sea loch to the Glencoe mountain range and, to the north, you can see Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. The self-catering lodge has plenty of room for friends and family.
WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO? Explore the West Highland hills and glens of Ardgour and take a trip in a gondola 2,150ft into the mountains. A wonderful area for walking, pony trekking, golf and sea cruises.
SLEEPS? There are five double bedrooms with en-suites. The lighthouse sleeps ten.
WHAT DOES IT COST? From £1,540 per week in low season.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit corranlighthouselodge.com.
WEST USK LIGHTHOUSE
HISTORY: Completed in 1821, this was the first lighthouse designed by Scottish architect James Walker, who went on to build a further 21. Originally sold for private use in 1922, the building was taken over by its current owners, Frank and Danielle Sheahan, in 1987. The couple spent two years renovating it.
WHY HERE? There are sea views from the hot tub on the roof garden. This B&B is a wedding venue, with additional accommodation in a nearby yurt.
WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO? A great area for history buffs, with castles at Caldicot, Chepstow, Raglan, Cardiff and Caerphilly, as well as the Roman city of Caerleon just ten miles away. The grand Tredegar House and Castell Coch are also nearby.
SLEEPS? There are three doubles and one family room.
WHAT DOES IT COST? B&B starts from £150 per room per night for two people sharing.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit westusklighthouse.co.uk.
HISTORY: Designed by James Walker and constructed by Trinity House in 1858, this lighthouse was built to guide boats heading for Whitby Port. Automated in 1992, the lighthouse is still functional.
WHY HERE? Although the accommodation is in the old lighthouse keepers’ cottages, not the tower, this is a working lighthouse, giving visitors a unique holiday experience. The property has stunning views across the North Yorkshire Coast.
WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO? Whitby has a lovely sandy beach and some fantastic restaurants. Try the Moon and Sixpence for beautiful views across the harbour and Whitby crab. Afterwards, go whale watching with Whitby Coastal Cruises.
SLEEPS? There are two cottages, Galatea and Vanguard, both with three bedrooms, which sleep five people.
WHAT DOES IT COST? Self-catering starts from £962 a week in low season.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit ruralretreats.co.uk.
WICKLOW HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
Co Wicklow, Ireland
HISTORY: This lighthouse was built in 1781 and restored and renovated by the late Maura Shaffrey for the Irish Landmark Trust in 1996.
WHY HERE? This building’s octagonal rooms make a unique and unusual holiday retreat. Simply and tastefully renovated, the granite walls are more than a metre thick and the views out to the Irish Sea from this 95ft tower are stunning. There are 109 steps to the kitchen, which is on the top floor!
WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO? Close enough to Dublin for a day visit, but far enough away for peace and quiet. A fantastic location for walkers, who can follow the Wicklow Way or explore nearby Wicklow Mountains National Park. Alternatively, visit Devil’s Glen Wood, where you can view the amazing collection of contemporary sculpture sited amongst the trees. The lighthouse is just 15 minutes’ drive from Powerscourt Waterfall, which at 121m, is Ireland’s highest.
SLEEPS? Four, in two double bedrooms.
WHAT DOES IT COST? From €564 for two nights.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit irishlandmark.com.
GREAT ORME’S HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
HISTORY: Constructed from limestone and Canadian pitch pine in 1862 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, this lighthouse was built so high on the cliffs that it didn’t need to be a tower. It was operational up to 1985.
WHY HERE? The accommodation is all within the original lighthouse itself. A Welsh breakfast is served in the Victorian dining room, where guests can look down over a 100 metre vertical drop to the sea.
WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO? The lighthouse is situated in the Great Orme Country Park, a habitat for many endangered species of butterfly, such as the Silver-studded Blue. The cliffs are host to colonies of guillemots, kittiwakes and razorbills. Peregrine falcons and little owls are frequently spotted in the surrounding area. The lighthouse is two miles from the Victorian seaside resort Llandudno, where you can ride in Britain’s only remaining cable-operated street tramway, first opened in 1902. Or you can take in the views from the aerial cable cars, constructed in 1969, which travel from Happy Valley to the Great Orme Summit.
SLEEPS? There are three double rooms.
WHAT DOES IT COST? B&B is £85 per person per night.
HOW DO I BOOK? Visit lighthouse-llandudno.co.uk.
Looking for more holiday inspiration? Try these scenic railway journeys, arty hideaways and campervan breaks, or browse our section for weekends away. Keep up to date with our latest travel features in the magazine.