Neist Point

Lighthouses of the Inner Hebrides

In Salutem Omnium
For the Safety of All
Neist Point - Isle of Skye
Flag of Scotland
© Composted by:
Bob Schrage
updated: 06-01-2019

Neist Point lighthouse

Place of the lighthouse

Neist Point (Scottish Gaelic: Rubha na h-Eist), is one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland. located on the westernmost point of the Isle of Skye about 5 km southwest of the village of Milovaig, giving excellent views over Moonen Bay to Waterstein Head and out over the Minch to the Western Isles. This point is regarded as the best place on Skye to see whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking shark. The sea around the point is teeming with sea-birds including gannets, black guillemots, razorbills and shags.

From the end of a single track road, you can start a walk to the lighthouse. While the walk down is an easy one, the concrete path does get quite steep at times. From the path you will see stunning views of the high cliffs and the lighthouse itself, at sunset the view is made even more spectacular making this a top destination for landscape photographers.

Building of the Lighthouse

Neist Point Lighthouse was built in 1909 as a manned lighthouse. The designer was David Alan Stevenson engineer of the Northern Lighthouse Board. Mr W. Hugh MacDonald from Oban was the contractor for the lighthouse and dwellings which cost £ 4,350. The lantern was made by Dove & Co from Edinburgh costing £ 1,100. The lightroom machine cost £ 418 and was made by Milne & Co from Aberdeen.

Since then the internal light system has been updated (in 1990) to an automated system that no longer requires daily maintenance and now the lighthouse is unmanned. The light is 43 meters above sea level and can be seen up to 29.6 km (16 nM) offshore. The tower is 19 meters high. The original Fresnel lens was among the first in Scotland to float on a bath of mercury. After improvements in 1990 the lens has been transferred to the museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburgh.

The crane at Neist point
The cableway at Neist point

The lighthouse is located on a landmark with high cliffs around it. This led to many difficulties during the construction of the lighthouse. Also difficult was to provide the lighthouse and lighthouse keepers with the necessary supplies (such as oil). There were two possibilities to favor the lighthouse; over land with a cableway or across the sea with a landing point where a crane was used. The remains of both installations (cableway and crane) are still present.

The light was first exhibited on November 1, 1909 as a fixed light. The foghorn was not completed until June 25, 1910. The foghorn is now discontinued (since 1990?). The lighthouse has now a light character of 1 flash of white light repeating every 5 seconds. (FlW 5s) with a range of 30 km (16 nM). Neist Point Lighthouse is also equipped with an AIS (Automatic Indentification System) station.

Operational status

The station was converted into automatic operation in 1990 and the light keepers were withdrawn. The lighthouse has since been operated remotely from the Northern Lighthouse Board headquarters in Edinburgh. The former keepers' cottages are now in private ownervessel.

It should be noted that at some sites the Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these buildings. The keeper’s cottages that surround the main tower are now privately owned, for a few years they were used as holiday lets, but recently they seem to be out of use. In June 2017 the Northern Lighthouse Board announced plans for a major restoration of the lighthouse during the fall.

Pentland Whisky
Whisky and Lighthouse

The lighthouse environment

The lighthouse is accessible by road and a mildly strenuous walk of about 2.2 km. Parking is available. Site and tower are closed, but it should be possible to view the lighthouse from nearby. The sheltered bays of Neist Point are also excellent places to fish, with fourteen species of fish to be caught in Moonen Bay. A furore 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 remainder of the land on Neist Point forms part of the common grazings for the townvessel of Waterstein and each of five crofts at Waterstein owns a share, with souming (grazing rights) for 1 horse, 4 cows and 30 sheep.

Neist Point was used as the dramatic setting for a number of scenes in the movie Breaking the Waves in 1996, starring Emily Watson. A mock cemetery was constructed for the scenes, which remained for several years afterwards. More recently, scenes for the movie, 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves, were filmed on the headland at Neist in October 2012. In the spring of 2013, planning permission was granted to convert the garages at Neist Point Car Park into a shop. Visitors should be very cautious when approaching the edges of the cliffs. In June 2013, a tourist tragically fell 35 meters to her death from the cliff in the first bay at the bottom of the steps leading down from the car park.


Character: Fl W 5s 43m 16M
(fl. 0.3s - ec. 4.7s)

EngineerDavid Lillie Stevenson (1815-1886)

Lat, Lon57°25.406' N, 06°47.287' W

Established1 November 1909
CharacterFlashing White every 5 secs.
Range30 km / 16 nM
Tower19 meters
Elevation43 meters above sea level
Fog hornYes, discontinued since(?)
AISMMSI No 992320187

AuthorityNorthern Lighthouse Board
RemarksCandle power 480.000 cd.
Cat.B listed - nr: 465 - 05/10/1971

Neist Point lighthouse
Neist Point  map
Neist Point  map
Neist Point  map
Neist Point  map


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