South Stack Lighthouse: 100 Things to do in Wales.

After our very wet morning in Caernarfon and Beaumaris we drove to the Northwestern tip of Anglesy for the next target on the 100 List: Watch Birds at South Stack. By this time the weather had started to clear up after lunch and the sun was beginning to shine through the clouds as we arrived. After parking the car we walked along the coastal path towards the light house.

Looking South all the coast.
Looking South all the coast.

Situated near the north west tip of Wales, the tiny islet known as South Stack Rock lies separated from Holyhead Island by 30 metres of turbulent sea, surging to and fro in continuous motion. The coastline from the breakwater and around the south western shore is made of large granite cliffs rising sheer from the sea to 60 metres.

The lighthouse is just coming into view.
The lighthouse is just coming into view.

South Stack Lighthouse was first envisaged in 1665 when a petition for a patent to erect the lighthouse was presented to Charles II. The patent was not granted and it was not until 9th February 1809 that the first light appeared to mark the rock. The lighthouse, erected at a cost of £12,000, was designed by Daniel Alexander and originally fitted with Argand oil lamps and reflectors. Around 1840 a railway was installed by means of which a lantern with a subsidiary light could be lowered down the cliff to sea level, when fog obscured the main light (1).

South Stack Lighthouse from the South.
South Stack Lighthouse from the South.
Looking down the steps towards the light house.
Looking down the steps towards the light house.

So what about the challenge? Well in truth late July is a little too late for watching sea bird colonies, as most of the chicks have now fledged. There were a few Guillemots still hanging around, but nothing much else. But Aunty had a good go.

Concentrated bird watching.
Concentrated bird watching.

 Then to a cry of “What’s that big yellow bird over there?” I had to put images of Sesame Street to one side and have a look to see the search and rescue helicopter from RAF Valley dangling a winch man over a small yacht in the bay. We’re not sure if it was an exercise or real rescue, but they were in the area for a considerable amount of time, and at one point flew off with the winch man still dangling underneath.

 

image

Finished for the day and off for a cup of tea.
Finished for the day and off for a cup of tea.
A rather scruffy Stonechat not yet in full winter plumage.
A rather scruffy Stonechat not yet in full winter plumage.
A Meadow Grasshopper - Chorthippus parallelus.oK it may not be a bird, but I still get excited.
A Meadow Grasshopper – Chorthippus parallelus.oK it may not be a bird, but I still get excited.
The Heather was looking great along the slopes.
The Heather was looking great along the slopes.

1: Trinity House. http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses/lighthouse_list/south_stack.html

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