The Mull of Galloway Experience
The 2017 season has now ended and the Lighthouse, Exhibition and RSPB will be open again for Easter 2018. Thank you to everyone who visited and supported us this season. Gallie Craig coffee house is now operating winter opening hours and you can find out more by visiting their website. The nature reserve and walks are open all year round.
Group bookings, coach parties and school parties are welcome by and we are now taking bookings for 2018.
The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse
The Lighthouse, known as a Stevenson Tower, was built by Robert Stevenson. It took two years to build; work commenced in 1828 and the Lighthouse was first lit on 26th March 1830. The tower stands 26 metres high and the light is 99 metres above sea level. On a clear night, the light can be seen 28 miles away with a flashing white light every 20 seconds.
Until 1971, the lens was a combination of shining brass and sparkling crystal, turning through its two and three quarter minute revolution on beautifully made rollers – so perfect that the five tons of lens could be moved by hand. The lamp was as simple as the familiar tilly-lamp, lit by hand with paraffin and then pumped up, for all the world like a camp cooking stove. There, however, the resemblance ended, for the surrounding prisms, which gave off myriad rainbows on a sunny day, caught the light and magnified it to the power of 29,000 candles.
The paraffin for the lamps, as well as other requirements of the lighthouse keepers and their families, came via ships and were deposited at East Tarbet and stored in a stone building still in evidence to this day. These ships were also used to move lighthouse keepers around the coastline from post to post.
In 1971, the Lighthouse was converted to electricity and began to use a sealed-beam light, mounted on a gearless revolving pedestal. New technology meant that cleaning of the Lighthouse became much easier, with no lenses to polish and no machinery to oil.
The Lighthouse became automatic in 1988 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s headquarters in Edinburgh. The Lighthouse is open to the public in the summer.
The Fog Horn
In the early 1900s, a Fog Horn, with an Atlantic Paraffin engine was introduced as an extra warning to shipping to avoid the Mull’s rocky coastline. The Atlantic engine was replaced in 1955 by three Kelvin Diesel Engines which remain on display in the Exhibition and are now undergoing refurbishment. Two of the engines are now running and work will continue on the third engine during the winter months. The Fog Horn was in use until 1987.
The Exhibition and Engine Room
The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse Exhibition is housed in the former fuel store, workshop and engine room to the right of the Lighthouse.
The Exhibition opened its doors for the first time on Good Friday 2009 after much hard work by a team of volunteers.
In pride of place is the Fresnel Lens from McArthur’s Head Lighthouse, which was upgraded to an automatic light in 1969. The lens has been loaned to the Exhibition by the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburgh. This museum has been instrumental in supplying on loan a range of artefacts, many original to the Mull of Galloway, as well as offering advice and expertise. Two of the Kelvin Diesel Engines are now running again after 30 years of silence and work will continue on the third engine and the Fog Horn over the winter months. Engine demonstrations will take place again during the 2018 season and group bookings are welcome – for details.
RSPB nature reserve
The area around the lighthouse is a RSPB reserve and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The reserve at the Mull is one of the RSPB’s smallest, yet it contains an amazing variety of wildlife. On a small circular walk it is possible to see a wide range of species. Visit our Gallery for photographs of the wildlife you can expect see in the Rhins of Galloway.
The Mull is home to three types of habitat: lichen-covered cliffs, rough grassland and maritime heath. The area is one of the few remnants of the natural habitat that used to cover much of the Galloway coast. The RSPB Visitor Centre is open between Easter and the end of October each year.
Gallie Craig Coffee House
This unique visitor facility has been designed with environmental issues foremost. The turf roof means that the building blends into the contours of the land, which reduces the detrimental effect on the landscape and helps to keep this beautiful area as natural as possible.
Gallie Craig was named after the ragged rock of the same name protruding from the sea south of the Mull. The glass encased coffee house and its terrace look towards the rock and the spectacular panoramic view also takes in the Lighthouse, the Isle of Man, Ireland, the South Rhins Peninsula and Luce Bay. The terrace area enables the visitor to see more of the spectacular cliffs in safety.
The extensive menu includes homemade soups, cold and hot snacks, light and main meals and delicious homemade cakes and tray bakes. A large selection of Cream o’ Galloway ice cream is available for sale. There is seating for 90 people and a well stocked gift shop; coach parties are welcome by prior arrangement.