Exploring the North East’s Lighthouses
I can’t believe it’s already September! This summer has been a busy one as I continue to run our Cullercoats gallery and paint original artwork (I even made a start on this year’s RNLI Christmas card!), all while balancing family time.
The season isn’t over yet and, in fact, this month will be a great one to explore areas of local beauty as the weather cools off. It may come as no surprise that one of my favourite ways to spend a family day out is exploring the North East coastline. Dotted with majestic castles and home to incredible wildlife, our coastline never disappoints.
Some of the most iconic places along the coastline are marked by their historic lighthouses, many of which are still in operation today. So, while I missed National Lighthouse Day on 7th August, I still think it’s worth sharing my favourite ones to visit all year round.
Many of the following lighthouses have inspired my original artwork and are available as limited edition prints.
St Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay
Built on the site of an 11th-century monastic castle, St Mary’s Lighthouse sits at the north of Whitley Bay beach. Although it is no longer in operation, you can still visit the gift shop on the island and even climb the 137 steps to the top for a stunning panoramic view of the North Sea and the wider Tyneside coastline.
Depending on the tides, you can visit St Mary’s Lighthouse via the rocky causeway. The island is also regularly visited by a wide range of wildlife, including seals that sunbathe on the rocks behind the lighthouse.
Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn
Located a short distance from the popular seaside town South Shields, Souter Lighthouse is well-known for its red and white stripes. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is just like any other lighthouse, however, Souter has one very special story behind it. Souter Lighthouse was the first lighthouse in the world to be designed and built specifically to use alternating electric currents.
Standing tall on Lizard Point, Souter is no longer in operation but you can still visit the site, which is now operated by the National Trust.
Farne Lighthouses & Longstone Lighthouse, Farne Islands
A visit to the Farne Islands is a must for any local or holidaymaker venturing to Seahouses. Home to thousands of wild puffins and grey seals, a boat trip around these islands is a fantastic day out for kids and grown-ups alike.
Located on the southern tip of Inner Farne, you’ll see Farne Lighthouse (previously known as Farne High Lighthouse), which was built in the early 19th century. The revolving beam helps ships navigate the rocky shores at night. There was also a second lighthouse, known as Farne Low Lighthouse, which boasted a fixed beam. Following the automation of the Farne High Lighthouse, the low beam was discontinued, but you can still see the building where it once stood on the island.
Longstone Lighthouse is another active lighthouse on the Farne Islands. Like Souter, this site has the picturesque red and white stripes. This particular lighthouse is famous for being the location of the Forfarshire shipwreck in 1838, the survivors of which were rescued by the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Grace Darling.
Longstone is often a stopping point for boat trips touring the Farne Islands, so if you get a chance to visit the island, then a tour of the lighthouse is a must.
Low Lights, North Shields
The bustling North Shields fish quay is home to the Low Lights, a leading light marking the entrance to the River Tyne. While this building is no longer in operation, it stands proudly at the harbour as a memory of the location’s colourful history.
The fish quay inspired this piece depicting the busy harbour at sunset.
Roker Lighthouse, Sunderland
The star of Roker’s famous pier, this lighthouse stands tall at the entrance of Sunderland harbour and has done so for over a hundred years. Following a period of restoration, Roker pier and lighthouse are open for guided tours where you can learn about the history of this fantastic spot.
These are just a few of the lighthouses in the region. Which is your favourite lighthouse in the North East? Let me know over on Instagram and shop lighthouse artwork on my website or at my Cullercoats gallery.