South Stack

South Stack Lighthouse, built in 1809


24 June 2012

South Stack, Holy Island, Anglesey

SH 20426 82277; 53.30690°N, 4.69662°W


South Stack Rock is an islet off the north west of Holy Island in Anglesey. The lighthouse there, designed by Daniel Alexander, was built in 1809. The 30m wide channel separating the rock from the cliffs of the headland was originally traversed by an aerial ropeway and later by a rope suspension bridge. The latter was replaced in 1828 by an iron suspension bridge, which was in turn superseded by an aluminium truss bridge in 1964. By 1983, however, this had become unsafe and was closed to the public. A new lattice bridge was put in place in 1997 when the islet and the lighthouse were opened as a visitor attraction.

In 1840 an inclined railway was constructed on the north side of the islet. This allowed a secondary lamp to be lowered down the cliff to just above the level of the sea on occasions when the visibility of the main light was affected by fog. A two-ton fog bell was installed in 1854, but this had limited range and was later supplemented by the fog signal cannon at North Stack. The bell was replaced by a siren in 1895. The height of the lighthouse was increased to its present 28m in 1874 and the station, operated by Trinity House, was finally automated in 1984.

The cliffs at South Stack are home to large breeding colonies of seabirds and the area is an RSPB bird reserve, with a visitor centre at Ellin’s Tower. This crenellated folly was built in 1868 by Ellin, wife of William Owen Stanley, local MP and later Lord Lieutenant of Anglesey.

South Stack (Trinity House); South Stack Cliffs (RSPB)

Tower anchor chain of the former suspension bridge, built in 1828 to replace the earlier rope bridge onto the islet.

The new lattice foot bridge, erected in 1997 when the rock and lighthouse were opened to the public

South Stack

Walker taking a pause on the way down the 400 steps cut into the cliffside


Superferry Stena Adventurer en route from Holyhead to Dublin. The crossing takes 3 hours 15 minutes.

South Stack Lighthouse

South Stack Lighthouse. The fog siren to the left of the tower took over responsibility for the service provided by North Stack fog signal station when the latter was closed.

I can fly too!

Ellin’s Tower (SH 20652 82001). Built in 1868 by the wife of Liberal MP William Owen Stanley, the folly is now an RSPB visitor centre.

13 thoughts on “South Stack

  1. I waited for the first photo to move into focus. Sometimes my computer screen lags behind. But it never did! Then I blinked a couple of times and smiled. I love it! The seagull was delightful, also. But if I were to claim one for wall art, it would be the anchor chain.


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