South Stack

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South Stack
Welsh: Ynys Lawd


South Stack Lighthouse - - 870858.jpg
South Stack island and lighthouse

South Stack is an island lying just off Holy Island, Anglesey. It is famous as the location of one of the most spectacular lighthouses on this coast, but also for its position on a rugged coast where birds which are rare elsewhere may be found playing. It forms the westernmost point of the county.

South Stack Lighthouse

South Stack Lighthouse

The South Stack Lighthouse has warned passing ships of the treacherous rocks below since its completion in 1809. The 91 foot lighthouse was designed by Daniel Alexander and the main light is visible to passing vessels for 28 miles, and was designed to allow safe passage for ships on the treacherous Dublin - Holyhead - Liverpool sea route. It provides the first beacon along the northern coast of Anglesey for east-bound ships. It is followed by lighthouses, fog horns and other markers at North Stack, Holyhead breakwater, The Skerries, the Mice and at the north-east tip of the island Trwyn-Du. The lighthouse is operated remotely by Trinity House.[1]

Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse and tour the engine room and exhibition area. The lighthouse is open seasonally.


View along the rugged coastline from South Stack

Until 1828 when an iron suspension bridge was built, the only means of crossing the deep water channel on to the island was in a basket which was suspended on a hemp cable. The suspension bridge was replaced in 1964, but by 1983 the bridge had to be closed to the public, due to safety reasons. A new aluminium bridge was built and the lighthouse was reopened for public visits in 1997. Thousands of people flock to the lighthouse every year, thanks to the continued public transport service from Holyhead's town centre.

There are over 400 stone steps down to the footbridge (and not, as local legend suggests, 365), and the descent and ascent provide an opportunity to see some of the 4,000 nesting birds that line the cliffs during the breeding season. The cliffs are part of the RSPB South Stack Cliffs bird reserve, based at Ellin's Tower.

The Anglesey Coastal Path passes South Stack. The Cybi Circular Walk [1] includes South Stack. The short walk is 4 miles long and takes around 2 hours to complete. Travelling from the Breakwater Country Park, other sites along the way are the North Stack Fog Signal station, Caer y Tŵr, Holyhead Mountain and Tŷ Mawr Hut Circles.

In culture

The island is well known locally and to bird-watchers. Its appearances in popular culture have been more peculiar:

  • The cover photo for Roxy Music's Siren album was taken directly below the central span of the bridge on a slope on the south side. The idea for the location was Bryan Ferry's, after he saw a TV documentary about lava flows and rock formations in Anglesey, in which South Stack was heavily featured.
  • Les Gardiens des Enfers, a French comic was published in 2010, its story mainly set in South Stack lighthouse in 1859.[2]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about South Stack Lighthouse)