Lighting the Way to North Wales: 7 Places To See

Seen as an aid to navigating the sea for maritime pilots, the history of lighthouses goes further back than you may think.  In fact the first lighthouse was built in the harbour of Piraeus, Athens in the 5th Century BC!  And although the lighthouses in North Wales are a more recent addition, they are still steeped in history and interesting facts, with many continuing to aid vital sea navigation:


south stack lighthouse

South Stack – Anglesey

The spectacular and often photographed South Stack is a Grade II Listed building nestling on an island off Holy Island to the North West of Anglesey. Don’t be put off by the 400 step descent to reach it – we promise it’s well worth the effort! Cross the aluminium suspended footbridge, and take a tour of the former lighthouse’s engine room, before climbing to the top of the 92 ft / 28 m tall lighthouse for spectacular panoramic views of the coastline and ocean.

The lighthouse has a long history behind it, having first been presented to be King Charles II in 1665 to be constructed, but taking over 140 years to be built – in 1809. Following an extension in 1874, the lighthouse has stood tall and proud for years. Today, the white light is 197 ft / 60 m above high water, and flashes every 10 seconds to be seen up to 29 miles out at sea.

A visit to South Stack offers more than the view of the lighthouse itself; the cliffs it stands on are part of the RSPB South Stack Cliffs Bird Reserve, where you can see choughs, peregrine falcon, kestrel and puffins nesting. You may even be lucky enough to spot dolphins, seals and even killer whales out to sea too!

Stop off at Elin’s Tower, the castellated tower which was erected in 1868 as a summerhouse for the then Liberal MP of Anglesey’s wife, as it is now an RSPB information centre with binoculars and telescopes primed on to the cliffs for a better view of the nesting birds. There’s also a very good café and a treasure hunt for children during the school holidays.

North Stack – Anglesey

North Stack, also to the North West of Anglesey, is the site of a redundant fog warning station and Trinity House. An ornate stone magazine, which was built in 1861 for the storage of gunpowder for the cannon that used to fire warning shots from the cliff top to passing ships that ventured too close to the rocks. These buildings now house a bird watching observatory giving a spectacular view of South Stack lighthouse across Gogarth Bay, and the island also provides some of the best known rock climbs in Britain.

North Stack is reached via Holyhead Breakwater Country Park which is a very popular tourist destination with 11 old quarrying sites, and the famous Holyhead Breakwater which was completed in 1873 and is the largest in Europe at one and ¾ miles long.

Ty Mawr – Anglesey

Ty Mawr lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey is accessible at low tide along a mile long stretch of beautiful sandy beach which is part of the National Nature Reserve of Newborough Warren. The white-washed Ty Mawr (large tower) was built in 1845 in a tapering style of Anglesey’s stone windmill towers. Now redundant, it still dominates the island standing at 33 ft (10m) high.

Llanddwyn Island is also the home of St Dwywen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers who founded a convent on the island. The remains of Dwynwen’s church can still be seen today as well as the site of the first beacon, Twr Bach (little tower) which was built in 1800.


point lynas lighthouse

Point Lynas – Anglesey

Point Lynas, at Llaneilian, Anglesey is an old oil-fired lighthouse which was erected in 1779 as a warning beacon and then rebuilt to resemble a castle by the Liverpool Docks in 1835. It stands 95 feet (29m) above sea level at high tide and has a range of twenty mile (32km), flashing every ten seconds. The lighthouse has been slowly restored over the last 20 years, retaining all the original features, but providing more modern facilities.

The design is unusual because the lantern is at ground level, with a look-out and telegraph room above, which is similar to the Great Orme Lighthouse which was also built by Liverpool Docks. The tower was also a semaphore station to signal to Liverpool shipowners of the safe return of their ships, which was replaced by Morse code in 1860.

Although still standing, this lighthouse is now privately owned. It is still operational as a lighthouse, and the East and West Keepers’ Cottages have been converted to 4 star self catering holiday cottages.


penmon point lighthouse

Penmon Point – Anglesey

Penmon Point, or Trwyn Du lighthouse, lies at the eastern tip of Anglesey between Penmon and Puffin Island. Standing 95 ft (29m) tall, it was built in 1836-38 with a stepped base to reduce the force of the water at the bottom of the tower, and a beam that can be seen 13 ½ miles (21km) away with a fog bell chiming every 30 seconds.

The lighthouse is sadly not accessible, but it can be viewed from the nearby pebble beach, along with panoramic views of the Great Orme and Conwy. If in the area, why not take one of the boat trips to Puffin Island from Beaumaris. There’s also the site of an old Priory, the Church of St Seiriol, a Grade I protected church, Penmon Dovecote and Dinmor Quarry at Penmon.


tanacre lighthouse

Point of Ayr – Talacre

Talacre Lighthouse, or Point of Ayr Lighthouse, is a Grade II Listed Building on the Point of Ayr near the village of Talacre. It was built in 1776 to warn ships entering between the River Dee and the Mersey Estuary, and although it is in private ownership, you can enjoy stunning views out to it from the sandy beach.


The Great Orme – Llandudno

Our final lighthouse is a return to Llandudno: The Great Orme Lighthouse was constructed in 1862 by the Liverpool Docks, who also built Lynas Point. This fortress-like limestone structure stands 325 ft (99m) above sea level and was operational until 1985. The beacon’s optic can be viewed at Great Orme Visitor Centre on the summit, and the Lighthouse is now a Guest House for those who dream of staying in a lighthouse!


Our hotel is the perfect base for all your lighthouse adventures!