A Trip To The Bell Rock Lighthouse

The Bell Rock Lighthouse against blue sunny sky

“I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve.” George Bernard Shaw.

I absolutely adore lighthouses. I think they’re magical and majestic. I’m lucky enough to not only live by the sea, but close to the world’s oldest sea-washed lighthouse, The Bell Rock.

It sits 11 miles off the coast of Arbroath, The Bell Rock Lighthouse was designed by Robert Stevenson and was built between 1807 and 1810.

The masonry work on which the lighthouse rests was constructed to such a high standard that it has not been replaced or adapted in 200 years and because of the engineering challenges that were overcome to build the lighthouse, it has been described as one of the Seven Wonders Of The Industrial World.

In 1807, Stevenson hired 60 men (including a blacksmith so that the pickaxes used to cut the foundations could be re-sharpened on site) and the workers set sail for the rock on 17 August 1807. They would be away for two months.

Because the rock was covered by water for 20 hours each day (up to 12 feet at high tide), the men lived at first on a ship moored 1 mile off the rock, requiring the workers to row out to the rock and back in boats each day, which was time-consuming, and at one point, one of the boats went adrift and was lost. So the workers’ first task was to build a beacon house on tall wooden struts on the reef surrounding the rock, with places for up to 15 men, so that workers would have a place to stay on site. A feat of engineering indeed!

Let’s rock!

As you can imagine, I was rather excited when last week I booked a boat tour to the lighthouse itself.

The day couldn’t have been better, though the water was rather choppy as we approached! In just over an hour, we were there. To gaze upon her so close up was incredible! She has been unmanned since 1988. What stories could be told by the keepers who looked after her for all those years? She still stands proud and serves to this day.

We had a number of friendly seals approach the boat which added to the wonder!

The Bell Rock Lighthouse is no stranger to the “Friend” either. You can read our Daily Serial “Northern Lights” by Betty McInnes here.

Read more from the “Friend” team in their team blogs.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!