20 August, 2014
Seeing the lighthouses on the Isle of May
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is offering a unique chance over the weekend of 6th and 7th September to see inside the lighthouses on the Isle of May.
As part of Fife Council Doors Open Weekend, two of the lighthouse buildings on the island will be open for visitors to explore, including associated buildings such as the engine room and the keepers’ cottages.
Lying on Scotland’s doorstep, the Isle of May has been a lighthouse island for more than 350 years and has three lighthouses including Scotland’s oldest lighthouse, the Beacon, which dates from 1636.
Besides the lighthouses on the island, visitors will be able to explore the other structures that help a lighthouse island to function. This includes a well-preserved example of a lighthouse engine room, one of the two fog horns on the island, and two different lighthouse keepers’ cottages.
David Pickett, reserve manager said, “This is an exciting chance to get a glimpse of the life of a lighthouse keeper. The first lighthouse in Scotland started lighting the night sky 378 years ago to warn ships in the Firth of Forth of the rocky Isle of May. Since then, the island has developed a lighthouse heritage greater than almost anywhere else in Scotland.”
It’s free to visit the nature reserve, but you must take a boat trip to reach the island. Advance booking is recommended. Sailings are on the privately-run May Princess or Osprey of Anstruther from the Anstruther Harbour or through the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.
- Anstruther - for tickets and details, see www.isleofmayferry.com (May Princess) or www.isleofmayboattrips.co.uk (RIB Osprey).
- North Berwick - For tickets and details, book online on the Scottish Seabird Centre website at www.seabird.org or call 01620 890 202.
Known locally as 'The May', this small island sits on the edge of the Firth of Forth. The island's importance for seabirds has drawn scientists to its shores for many years and the May is home to the oldest continuously running bird observatory in the UK. The May is also a regular haunt for grey seals, often seen lounging on the shoreline rocks. This island is a historical gem and it's been a place of pilgrimage for centuries with an early island monastery. The May was also the site of Scotland's very first lighthouse, built in 1636, while the current, castle-like lighthouse was designed by the engineer Robert Stevenson.
The Isle of May is one of more than 50 national nature reserves in Scotland. These are special places that look after some of the best of Scotland’s nature on behalf of everyone who lives or visits Scotland, and they provide unique opportunities to visit, enjoy and learn more about Scotland’s nature. For more information, see www.nnr-scotland.org.uk.
- SNH Media
NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nature_scot
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