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Cape Wrath Lighthouse

Undoubtedly the most remote of lighthouses on the Scottish mainland, Cape Wrath Lighthouse is situated above cliffs in the northwestern tip of the country, 10 miles (16 km) west northwest of Durness. Completed in 1828, the work of engineer Robert Stevenson (1772 - 1850), the lighthouse cost 14,000 and comprises a 20-m (66-foot) white tower built of local stone, with associated 'Egyptian style' lightkeepers' cottages and support buildings which have now been sold off. All of these buildings were A-listed in 1971. The light was originally illuminated by a paraffin burner, which was replaced by electric mercury vapour lamps in 1978. The entire mechanism was updated in 1980 and now has a range of 22 nautical miles (41 km). The light was automated in 1998 and is remotely-operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board in Edinburgh. The compressed-air foghorn was terminated in 2001.

It was here, in 1977, that supplies were delivered to a Northern Lighthouse Board lighthouse by helicopter for the first time. Because it was not easily accessible by road, all stores including fuel and spare parts had previously been brought by ship.

Having made use of the summer passenger ferry which crosses the Kyle of Durness, access is via a track which crosses the Parph and its military ranges, although a tourist bus service began in 1982 for those not wishing to walk. Visitors will find the support buildings are now home to the Ozone Cafe, which opened in 2009 and describes itself as the most remote cafe on the British Mainland. The owners have converted another of the keepers' cottages into their house and there is also an interpretation centre which discusses the importance of lighthouses, the Stevenson dynasty - which was so important in their design - and Cape Wrath.

Because the light was often obscured by fog, plans were drawn up by David A. Stevenson (1854 - 1938), grandson of the designer of the original lighthouse, for a new 'low' light. Work began in 1913 on a tunnel into the cliffs which was to contain a lift-shaft to reach a construction on the cliffs below, but stopped following a disagreement with the contractor and was then interrupted by the First World War and never restarted. Nearby are the ruins of the Lloyd's Signal Station, which once monitored shipping and seems to have been developed into a Radar station linked to the Royal Navy gunnery range.


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