Noss Head Lighthouse, Caithness

Noss Head Lighthouse sits on the north coast of Scotland, not far from John O’Groats. Visible across the flat cliff top landscape for miles around it takes time to wind along the roads, around field boundaries to reach the lighthouse. Close by are the ruins of Castle Girnigoe (later known as Castle Sinclair), both perched on the cliffs over look Sinclair Bay below.

To Noss Head Light

As sweet to me as light of moon or star,
Is thy bright gleam, old trusty friend Noss Head
And doubly sweet, when o’er wide ocean far
The ray benignant on my course is shed
Blest be the hand that raised your steadfast tower
And he who trims you never-falling light
For oft when round me midnight tempests lower
Hope’s pulse had failed, but for thy flash so bright
My gallant boat, though scare inch-thick her planks
Flies livelier on the track that heads her home
And dips her prow, as if in grateful thanks
When first you welcome ray reveals the billows foam
Long where the nights and weary were my watch
If from the lively deck thy flame I did not catch.
— James G Duncan


The lighthouse at Noss Head was built in 1849 by Mr Arnot of Inverness under the watchful eye of Alan Stevenson. This was the first lighthouse to have diagonal glass panes on the exterior of the lantern. To support the farm workers affected by the Highland Potato Famine, farm workers were paid to build the road from Wick out to the lighthouse.
In 1987 the lighthouse was automated and the keepers moved from the cottages.

Noss Head Lighthouse

The lighthouse is shorter than some at 18metres high with just 76 steps to the top of the tower. It has two keepers cottages and some out buildings which are now privately owned all surrounded by a boundary wall.

Engineer: Alan Stevenson

Established: 1849

Character: Flashing White/Red every 20 seconds

Height: 18metres 

Status: Operational

Automated: 1987

Operator: Northern Lighthouse Board

Access: There is private vehicle access to the lighthouse but access is by appointment only

Visiting Noss Head Lighthouse

Noss Head Lighthouse is not open to the public but can be reached on foot by following the marked footpath.

There is a circular walk from Staxigoe near Wick or parking at the end of the track near the start of the path down to Castle Girnigoe.


Photography at Noss Head

The lighthouse can be seen for miles around but the best views are from the final bend in the road on the approach to the lighthouse or from the lochan to the west of the lighthouse. This is perfect for reflections of the lighthouse on calm days. The lighthouse looks particularly good in the rare snow that falls in this isolated spot, but worth the adventure when it does fall and settle.

U.K. Lighthouse Challenge

This lighthouse is part of my U.K. Lighthouse Challenge.

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