Cape Wrath Lighthouse is located at the most north westerly tip of mainland Britain, in the Durness parish of the county of Sutherland. The Cape is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as well as a Special Protection Area for birds.
The Lighthouse was built by Robert Stevenson in 1828 at a cost of £14,000. The tower is built from hand dressed stone and the rest of the building is constructed of large blocks of granite quarried from nearby Clash Carnoch.
The name of the headland derives, not from the stormy waters of the area but from the Norse word for a ‘turning point’, as it was here that Norsemen turned their ships to head home.
On 17 January 1977, a helicopter carried out the Cape Wrath Relief (Keeper’s changeover). This was a history making moment as it was the first helicopter relief to be carried out at a shore-based Scottish lighthouse.
In 1978 the paraffin vapour burner was replaced by mercury vapour lamps. An electrically operated temporary power beam was installed in January 1980 and later that same year in December, a completely new gearless pedestal and lamp array system was installed.
As well as their primary duties of looking after the light, fog signal and radio beacon, the Keepers did most of the maintenance work on the Station.
As the Lighthouse is not easily accessible by road, all stores including household goods and spare parts as well as the diesel and paraffin oil required to power the machinery are landed by the Northern Lighthouse Board’s vessel NLV PHAROS, whose duty it is to convey stores to the isolated lighthouses along the Scottish and Isle of Man coasts.
Cape Wrath Lighthouse was converted to automatic status on 31 March 1998 and is remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh.