The lighthouse of St Abbs

Published 1 May 2022

The lighthouse and foghorn of St Abbs

I wonder how many lighthouses I have seen in my life. I mean, I know how many photographs of lighthouses I have. 32. Although there are multiple photographs of the same lighthouse. I have six of Belle Tout lighthouse on the South Downs Way alone. But how many have I seen?

It’s unlikely to be enough. Lighthouses are always visually arresting buildings. It’s the way they stand, rather incongruously against their surroundings. They rarely blend in. Arguably they should never blend in. They stand instead tall – or perhaps not that tall – and proud.

There’s over a hundred lighthouses in Scotland alone. I bet I’ve seen very few of them. One I have is St Abbs lighthouse, on the Berwickshire Coastal Path. It’s an interesting setup where the lamp is separate from the lighthousekeepers accommodation. No round buildings below the lamp for this lighthouse keeper. Oh no. He (and it would have been a he) got a perfectly normal looking cottage a short walk away. And some accommodation for assistants too. Blimey. Anyway, the lamp sits in its own building; small but perfectly formed.

Of course it’s automated now. Has been since 1993. And the old fog signal doesn’t do much either. That’s been unused since 1987. But the light that was first used on 24 February 1862, still shines out. Even in a world of GPS and radio technology, sometimes you still need a lamp.


Martyn West

11 June 2022 at 11:12 am

I’m lucky enough to have walked round the the whole of the coast of the mainland uk (plus IOM, IOW and all the inhabited CIs). I love lighthouses, they are a beacon of light to walk towards on any given day. Must sees (if you haven’t already) Spurn Head, Happisburgh and Dunnet Head.

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