Click for Bookshop

Kyleakin Lighthouse

Kyleakin is a disused lighthouse on a rocky promontory extending to the west of the island of Eilean Ban within Kyle Akin, the channel with separates Kyle of Lochalsh from Skye. It was built in 1857 by engineering brothers David and Thomas Stevenson, and comprises a 21.3-m (70-foot) white tower, with a buff-painted gallery corbelled out around the lantern. It is accessed from the shore by a causeway and an unusual five-span bridge, its walkway protected by cast-iron panels. Nearby are a pair of single-storey cottages which once provided a home to the lightkeepers.

Kyleakin Lighthouse was one of the first to use a fixed condensing optical system providing a directional beam, with a lamp illuminated by sperm whale oil, which was valued for its bright, clean and odourless flame. In 1898 this was converted to a paraffin vapour burner, which was both cheaper and more efficient than whale oil, with fuel delivered to tanks on Eilean Ban. In 1960, it was converted to run on acetylene gas, which involved less maintenance, at the same time as the the lighthouse was automated. The lightkeepers' cottages were sold off in 1963, bought by Ring of Bright Water author Gavin Maxwell (1914-69).

B-listed since 1971, the lighthouse was was decommissioned in 1993, made obsolete by the Skye Bridge which has soared above it since 1995. Still maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board, it continues to serve as a landmark used for navigation during the day.

The lightkeepers' cottages were restored by the Eilean Ban Trust as a residence for the island's nature warden and a small museum dedicated to Gavin Maxwell.


Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better