Rubha Réidh
Rubha Réidh lighthouse
photos: © Northern Lighthouse Board

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Update: 28-03-2024

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Corran Point
Rubha Réidh
Stoer Head

Lighthouse shield

Place of the lighthouse

Rubha Réidh is Scottish Gaelic for “smooth point” and is called as such because of the rock formations which are laying around the headland where the rock slabs run down into the sea. The Rubna Réidh lighthouse stands close to the entrance to Loch Ewe in Wester Ross. The nearest town is Gairloch and lies about 18.5 km to the south east. The lighthouse overlooks the Minch and the entrance to Loch Ewe and also from it the island of Skye can be seen.

Building of the Lighthouse

A first proposal for a lighthouse on Rubha Réidh point was done in 1853 by David Lillie Stevenson (1815-1886). But with emphasis on economy, the Board of Trade refused to approve the proposed expenditure of £5,000. In August 1906, David Alan Stevenson recommended that a navigation light be established on the prominent headland of the Ross-shire coast 31.5 km north of the Rona lighthouse and 48 km south of the Stoer Head lighthouse. He considered the lighting important for this very remote site and so suggested a powerful light and a fully manned "Island Station".

It took to 1908 that the Board of Trade sanctioned that a lighthouse must had to be built on that point. The erection of the lighthouse was started by his son, David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938) in 1908. The lighthouse was completed in 1912 for a total sum of £14,900. The archives include plans signed by David Alan Stevenson, dated 1908 and 1909 showing the proposed site of the lighthouse with access to the jetty. Also including the designs for the gate piers and gates to the compound, plans and elevations for various parts of the compound including the foghorn house and the lantern dome and details for the stair in the tower. (by Walter Macfarlane & Co, Saracen Foundry, Glasgow).

The lighthouse complex consists of a white tower, 25 metres high and the light has an elevation of 37 metres above sea level. The house has three self-contained flats in it for three lighthouse keepers and their families and was constructed at the same time with the lighthouse. The toilets and bathhouse were in the outhouses at the North side of the building along with a stable and workshop. The buildings are enclosed by a boundary wall. All whitewashed with yellow painted detailing such as long and short lines, around windows and door surrounds and cornicess'. Building of the lighthouse brought much needed employment to local workmen at the time.

Quay and slipway

The house was modernised in 1962 with electricity, indoor toilets, bathrooms and a hot water supply. Until 1989, heating was still from coal fires. The road between Melvaig and the lighthouse was constructed in 1962. Before that time, access was either by pony across the moors or by sea. About 400 metres to the north there is a concrete quay and ramp providing access from the sea at high tide. The quay and ramp can still be seen. Paraffin was pumped from the quay and other goods were transported on a small trolley on rails. The trolley was removed sometime after 1968. A part of the building (attached to tower) was removed in 1986, including the foghorn house.

Rubha Réidh is an example of the final evolution of the classic Stevenson's on-shore manned lighthouses. It is possibly the last circular major lighthouse built by a Stevenson in mainland Scotland and is one of the last few classic lighthouses built before World War I. Major lighthouses such as Esha Ness on Shetland and Duncansby Head on the north coast of mainland Scotland were built after World War I. They were of a significantly different design.

Warning systems (Light, Fog horn, Radar Beacon)

Gairloch Heritage Museum
The original light was first lit on 15 January 1912. The light came from a paraffin vapour burner which displayed six white flashes every 30 seconds. After automation in 1986, the light displays four flashes every 15 seconds and have now a range of 33.3 km. The original Fresnel lens and lighting equipment, made by Chance Brothers of Birmingham in 1912 - one of the largest ever made, is removed in 1985 prior to automation of the Station in 1986. The original Frensnel lens and lighting equipment is now put in display in the Gairloch Heritage Museum.

The fog horn was operated by compressed air provided by large diesel engines which powered the compressors. The fog horn gave 4 blasts every 90 seconds. The fog horn was discontinued in 1980 as well as all the fog horns in Scotland. The red fog horn trumpet, along with its clockwork timing mechanism were removed and were also donated to the Gairloch Heritage Museum and put there on display. The fog horn building with engine room were partially demolished. All that is left is the first floor of the fog horn tower and the front facade of the engine room. The fog signal equipment was auctioned off and the pressurised air tanks were removed and sold as scrap.

Additional information

In 1944, an American Liberty vessel the "William H Welch" missed the entrance to Loch Ewe and went ashore at Black Bay during a severe storm. Two Rubha Réidh lightkeepers were actively involved in the rescue of 15 survivors.

The Tower is owned and maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board. Since automation of the light in 1986, the adjacent accommodation is no longer required for the keepers. The Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these buildings. It is now a private home and not open to the public. Since 2004 the lighthouse has been protected as a category B listed building.

Rubha Réidh is located on the Western coast of Ross-shire overlooking stunning coastline and is known for its superb scenery, white sandy beaches, wide open spaces and diverse wildlife. It sits amongst some of the finest mountain and coastal scenery in Britain, in a region with stretches of roadless countryside, where deer and goats roam wild and where a variety of birdlife, including the rare and magnificent White-Tailed Eagle, can be spotted.

The seas of the Minch, which pound dramatically against the rocks of Rubha Réidh, team with life. Seals, dolphins, otters - even the occasional whale - are regularly seen from the lighthouse. Basking sharks are frequently seen in the summer months. The moors behind the lighthouse are home to a wealth of seabirds, wading birds, flora and fauna. There are a couple of deserted sandy beaches an hour's walk.

Rubha Rèidh


Character: Fl(4) W 15s 37m 18M
(3x fl. 0.4s - ec. 2.1s, fl. 0.4s - ec. 7.1s)

Rubha Rèidh lighthouse
Lightcharacter of Rubha Rèidh (click to enlarge)
Engineer: David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938)

Lat, Lon: 57°51.527' N, 005°48.713' W

Established: January 15, 1912
Character: Flashing(4) White every 15 secs.
Range: 18 NM ~ 33.3 km
Elevation: 37 meters above sea-level
Tower: 25 meters, 87 steps to the top
Init. Costs: £ 14,900
Econ. Costs*: £ 13,570,000.
*) According to:

Automated: 1986
Last Keepers: PLK - D. MacAuly
: ALK - J. Hutchinson
: ALK - F.B.M. Conner
Fog horn: 1912-1980 (4 blasts every 90s.)
AIS: MMSI No 992320797

Status: Operationel
Authority: Northern Lighthouse Board
Remarks: Candle power 520.000 cd
: Cat.B listed - LB49894 - 01/07/2004

Drone flight around Rubha Réidh

Rubha Réidh lighthouse

Rubha Réidh lighthouse

Rubha Réidh Lighthouse drone- Kentphotopics