Robert Louis Stevenson’s cousin, David Alan Stevenson worked on twenty-six (26) Scottish lighthouses during his career. Among them, near Glendale, is one of Scotland’s most famous, the Neist Point lighthouse on the Duirinish peninsula, the most westerly point of the Isle of Skye.
On the very tip of Neist Point, quite literally on the cliffs edge and standing alone on its remote perch is the Lighthouse and its adjoining complex of keepers cottages.
The complex was designed by David Alan Stevenson, and built in 1909, costing £4,350.
The lighthouse itself was lit in November 1909, ironically only 4 months after a ship became wrecked on the cliffs below.
The ship was a steamer bound for Poland from Liverpool, and although all the crew survived, the steamer “Doris”; succumbed to the deep and still lies in its watery grave beneath the cliffs of the lighthouse.
The lighthouse has a large foghorn, which was an addition in 1910 but is now decommissioned and sits in ominous silence.
The lighthouse finally became automated in 1990, at which point the keepers were withdrawn.
Although the light itself is still operating (all be it on its own), the complex attached now stands derelict and mournful on the wind swept heights of Neist Point.
At some time following its automation, the surrounding complex of keepers cottages was sold to a private owner who opened the site as a bed and breakfast, and self catering holiday cottage complex.
It is unclear exactly when this exchange took place, or exactly when the site opened as holiday accommodation; or indeed when it ceased and closed its doors.
There is mention of the landowner being in dispute over tourists accessing the lighthouse over his land in 2002, so it is possible it had ceased operating as holiday lettings by then.
Needless to say, the site still stands the test of time and weather, and stands proudly high above the waves of The Minch.
Inside has the eerie air of an abandoned ship, as though in homage to the Doris; with food and cutlery still in place and the beds made up neatly as though expecting a visitor who may never arrive.
When visited by night, it surely has a bit of an haunted feel to it…yikes! The lighthouse itself however is in great condition, run by the national lighthouses and is very secure.
It stands 19 meters high, 43 meters above sea level and the light flashes white every 5 seconds guiding ships through the narrows of the Minch.
Why was the lighthouse abandoned?
A furor erupted in 2002 when a former owner of the Lighthouse Cottages installed a toll booth at the Neist Point Car Park and began charging for access to the Point.
After a concerted campaign by locals, the illegal charging stopped and the cottages were sold on. The Lighthouse Cottages, together with the small enclosed area around them, are now owned by Jane Corfield.
Despite old signage indicating that accommodation is available in these cottages, they are no longer rented to tourists.
The remainder of the land on Neist Point forms part of the common grazings for the township of Waterstein and each of 5 crofts at Waterstein owns a share, with souming (grazing rights) for 1 horse, 4 cows and 30 sheep.
Source: Google The Tourist Guide to Glendale, Isle of Skye-Neist Point and Lighthouse
The walk down the concrete path to the lighthouse from the car park is approximately 45 minutes and is a very pleasant one.
On the way back up, you sometimes need to catch your breath, but it is definitely worth its while, as the contemplation of wild moors, countless sheeps grazing away, a colorful variety of seabirds, sunset rays illuminating the rugged coastline with its dramatic cliffs makes you feel like if you were on a timeless magical tour!
If lucky enough you could even watch whales, dolphins and porpoises. Furthermore, it is a paradise for photographers, especially for those in love with landscape photography. Be careful though and hang on to your camera not to lose it down the cliffs.
I wonder if the cottages are for sale?
Stay tuned for more lighthouses trails!