Just off the most westerly point of Holy Island in Anglesey, North Wales you’ll find the tiny islet of South Stack. And right there, on it’s summit, the atmospheric South Stack Lighthouse.
It’s one of the most picturesque lighthouses in Wales and one of the top things to do in Anglesey.
South Stack Lighthouse Anglesey
In this blog post we’ll give you a quick run down of the essential information you need for a visit to South Stack Lighthouse Anglesey. Including a little bit of history about the place, the wildlife you can expect to encounter and details of some lovely scenic cliff walks.
Holy Island Anglesey History
It’s rather out of the way compared with most other Anglesey attractions, but you’ll understand the draw as soon as you see it. Built in 1809 by Trinity House, this Holyhead lighthouse has been warning ships in the Irish sea of the hazardous rocks below for over 200 years.
Originally fitted with oil lamps and reflectors, South Stack lighthouse was electrified in 1938. Then further modernised in 1983 when it was automated. It has since been managed remotely by the company who built it, Trinity House.
To access South Stack you must first descend down 400 steps, then at the bottom you cross a small metal bridge, before climbing up some more steps up the lighthouse.
Crossing the footbridge over the 30m chasm of turbulent sea below will give you an insight into just how treacherous previous South Stack lighthouse keeper jobs were.
What’s more, before the first bridge was added in 1828, the only means of crossing the channel to Holy Island Anglesey was in a wicker basket on a cable. Can you imagine that? It must have been terrifying in the middle of a storm.
Is South Stack Lighthouse Haunted?
In 1859 there was a particularly violent storm which is now believed would have been classed as a hurricane. It wrecked devastation, claiming 800 lives in 200 shipwrecks. Including that of the Royal Charter which had 500 on board.
Unfortunately one of the keepers, John Jack Jones, was also killed by falling rock as he was heading on to duty.
The story goes that he dragged himself part way along the path, but his cries were drowned out by the battering wind and rain and he wasn’t found until the next morning. And that it is his ghost who now haunts South Stack lighthouse.
It was visited by the team from Most Haunted, a British reality TV series that investigates paranormal activity in different locations and they certainly thought so.
RSPB South Stack Visitor Centre
The huge sheer granite cliffs facing South Stack islet rise 60m up from the sea and make perfect breeding grounds for a variety of seabirds. There’s guillemots, choughs, fulmars, peregrine falcons, gulls, razorbills and perhaps the cutest of all, the south stack puffins.
The best time to visit RSPB South Stack and see them is between May and June. There’s a viewing platform in the South Stack Visitor Centre with telescopes and binoculars. And visitors can view live close up action on the cliffs (via cameras) of the nesting birds.
If you’re lucky enough, you may also even spot some seals, porpoises or dolphins frolicking in the waves below.
At the RSPB visitor and information centre you’ll also find a cafe, picnic area and toilets.
South Stack Anglesey Visiting Info
South Stack Lighthouse Anglesey stands at 28m tall and the light reaches an impressive 20 nautical miles out into the Irish sea. To learn more about the history and operation you can take a tour inside the lighthouse.
It first includes a visit to the engine room and exhibition area, then you’ll climb up the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse where you can get a closeup view of the light mechanism and views over the Irish Sea.
Do be aware that facilities are none existent on the island, there’s no toilets and you likely won’t have any phone signal. There’s also no dogs allowed.
South Stack Lighthouse Opening Times
The carpark and walking trails are always open, but the visitor centre and access to South Stack lighthouse is Saturday – Wednesday, 10am-5pm only. Closed Thursday and Friday.
Access to South Stack islet is also dependent upon the extremely variable weather conditions in the area. So if you are wanting to do a tour it’s always best to check with the visitor centre that they are operating before heading out there.
South Stack Lighthouse Parking
There are three car parks available. A larger one at South Stack Visitor Centre and then two smaller ones a little further down towards the cliffs.
Car parking charges apply from 9am – 5pm. For cars and vans it’s £2.50 for up to 2 hours or £5 all day. It is free however for blue badge holders, RSPB members and motorcyclists.
South Stack Lighthouse Tickets
Adult = £6, Children = £3, Concession = £4 and family ticket (2 adults/3children) = £15. For groups of less than 10, you just purchase tickets on the day from the Visitor Centre.
South Stack Walks
There’s a few different South Stack walks. They are particularly pretty in summer. While the surrounding headland is a riot of colour with almost neon yellow gorse, bright purple heather and lots of other vibrant wildflowers.
South Stack To Holyhead Mountain
Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: 1 hour
From South Stack Anglesey there’s a few routes that will take you to the top of Holyhead Mountain. It’s the highest point on Holy Island and boosts stunning 360 degree views over the dramatic coast below.
Circular Walk Via North Stack
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 2 hours
You can start this South Stack lighthouse walk from the RSPB visitor centre car parks or alternatively from Breakwater Country Park. It takes in Holyhead Mountain and also the islet of North Stack. You can find details of the route and map here.
Stone Roundhouses Short Walk
Distance: 1 mile
Time: 20 minutes
Taking a path opposite a car park before you get to South Stack visitor centre will lead you to an ancient settlement of stone roundhouses called Ty Mawr Hut Circles.
If you have any questions about visiting South Stack Lighthouse Anglesey, do get in touch in the comments. And when you do visit come back and let us know how you enjoyed it!
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