This striking right-angled lighthouse tower on a rocky headland to the south of Port Ellen harbor is one of the first sights travelers see when arriving on Islay on the Port Ellen ferry.
The lighthouse tower was constructed in 1832 by the Laird of Islay, Walter Frederick Campbell in memory of his wife, Lady Ellinor Campbell who tragically died at the age of 36. She passed the same year the tower was built. During her later years, she struggled greatly with mental illness and it played a role in her death. Port Ellen takes its name after Walter’s late wife.
This unusual lighthouse stands three-stories high and is the only one in Scotland to feature a square shape. It’s white walls contrast dramatically with the deep blue ocean. The lighthouse appears as though it was plucked directly from a postcard and is a must-see during any visit to the region. It’s a very relaxing place to sit and reflect while listening to the lapping of waves as they collide with the rocks.
Over the doorway to the lighthouse is a moving inscription that reads:
“Ye who mid storms and tempests stray in dangers midnight hour. Behold where shines this friendly ray and hail its guardian tower.
Tis but faint emblem of her light my fond and faithful guide. Whose sweet example meekin bright led through this worlds eventful tide my happy course aright.
And still my guiding star she lives in realms of bliss above. Still to my heart blest influence gives and prompts to deeds of love.
Tis she that bids me on the steep kindle this beacons flame. To light the wanderer o`er the deep who safe shall bless her name.
So may sweet virtue lead your way that when life’s voyage is o`er. Secure like her with her you may attain the heavenly shore.”
Something to ponder as you sit and enjoy the surroundings.
Know Before You Go
You can park your car a few hundred meters down the road from the lighthouse and walk along the beach and onto the headland, directly to the base of the lighthouse.
The path may be submerged during very high tides. The lighthouse is not usually open to visitors. From the shore, a signposted trail leads through a gate and around the coast to a sheltered beach known as the Singing Sands. There, the action of the waves at certain times shifts the sand in a way that produces an unusual sound, as if singing.