Caught by the River

Lighthouses of the UK #10: Berry Head

Ben Langworthy | 22nd January 2019

Illustrator Ben Langworthy continues his mission to draw each of the 300+ lighthouses which pepper the UK coastline

Berry Head in Devon is a special place. The limestone headland is an designated area of outstanding natural beauty and home to many rare plants and birds. In the 18th century there was a fort here, built to protect against the threat of invading French armies. With the fort long since dismantled, these days the most notable building in the area is of a somewhat different stature.

Built in 1906 and standing at just 16 feet tall, this diminutive lighthouse is reputedly the shortest in the UK – although oddly it is also one of the highest above sea level, at 190 feet. As well as this it was once known as the deepest lighthouse in Britain, owing to the mechanism used to rotate the light – which worked a little like a grandfather clock, dropping a large weight down a 148 ft shaft built into the headland.

These days Berry Head lighthouse is electric and automated, quietly getting on with the job amongst white sea campion and rock-roses while kestrels, kittiwakes and guillemots hover above it.


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