The Mull of Galloway Experience
At the Mull of Galloway you can climb the Lighthouse, visit the Exhibition of Lighthouse History, experience the Vintage Engines and Foghorn, walk around the RSPB Scotland nature reserve and enjoy delicious food and drink at Scotland’s most southerly coffee house.
Climb 115 steps to the top of the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse and, on a clear day, be rewarded with spectacular views of Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man and Cumbria, watch the gannets diving and look out for porpoises and dolphins.
2020 opening times
The Exhibition will be opening up for the season on Saturday 28th March 2020 from 11am to 5pm and will be open daily until the final day of the season on Saturday 31st October.
- Climb the Lighthouse – open weekends from Saturday 28th March from 11am to 5pm (see additional opening times below to cater for public holidays and school holidays).
- The Exhibition – open daily from 11am to 5pm.
In addition to every Saturday and Sunday during the 2020 season the following opening times and dates for the Lighthouse Tours are:
- Saturday 4th April daily up to and including Sunday 19th April
- Saturday 2nd, Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th May
- Friday 8th May (to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day), Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th May
- Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th and Monday 25th May
- Saturday 20th June daily up to and including Monday 31 August
- Saturday 10th October daily up to and including to Saturday 31st October.
Exhibition Ticket – £3 for adults and £1.00 for children under 14.
Lighthouse Tour Ticket – £3 for adults and £1.00 for children under 14. Access to the Lighthouse is by guided tour only.
Combined Ticket – £5 for adults and £1.50 for children under 14.
Payment can be made by cash, debit or credit card.
Under 5’s visit for free.
Please note the tower tour is not suitable for anyone suffering from heart, breathing or balance difficulties and that any person under 1m in height will not be allowed access, this includes carried children. Visitors must wear sensible footwear to climb the tower.
George the Lighthouse Keeper is our new recruit and he is the height guide for our Lighthouse tours. He would love to meet you.
The Lighthouse tours are by kind permission of Northern Lighthouse Board.
The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse participates in the Association of Lighthouse Keepers’ ‘passport’ scheme. You can purchase your Lighthouse Passport from the exhibition and receive your stamp as a souvenir of your visit and then use your passport to visit other participating lighthouses.
Group bookings, coach parties and school parties are welcome by and we are now taking bookings for 2020.
Foghorn and Engine Room Demonstrations for 2020
Each Sunday throughout the 2020 season, we plan guided tours of our vintage foghorn engine room. These tours create a unique opportunity to experience working foghorn engines and air compressors while our guide is on hand to provide an insight into the lives of Lighthouse Keeper’s and the rich history associated with the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. Our tours are completed with the iconic sounding of our Foghorn across the open sea towards the Isle of Man.
Foghorn Tours will be available each Sunday from 29th March 2020 from 1pm.
* Kindly note due to respect and the well-being of nesting seas birds on our cliffs, our Foghorn Tours will not conclude with the sounding of our Foghorn between the middle of May and late July.
Dogs are welcome at the Mull of Galloway under close supervision and on a lead. Dogs are welcome in the Exhibition, RSPB visitor centre and there is outdoor seating at Gallie Craig coffee house for dogs and their owners. Dogs are not permitted in the Lighthouse.
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 nautical miles (32 land miles) away with a flashing white light every 20 seconds.
In early 2019, the Northern Lighthouse Board has undertaken a complete refurbishment of the Tower and replaced the old light with a two-tier light manufactured by Sealite, an Australian company. Each Optic gives 90,000 Candelas so a total of 180,000 for Mull of Galloway. The 2 lights together make an 18 nautical mile range which is a reduction of 10 nautical miles. NLB has moved to this type of light for mains powered stations as it is hoped that they will need very little maintenance. The lights also have a very bright “white” light which should not be lost in background town lighting when used in built up areas.
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.
A Foghorn has been present at the Mull of Galloway since 1894. It last sounded as an aid to marine navigation in November 1987. During its working life, the Foghorn would be operated by Lighthouse Keepers should seaward visibility drop below 4 miles.
Three Kelvin K2 Diesel Engines produce the compressed air necessary to sound the Foghorn. The engines are now running again after 30 years of remaining silent.
The Foghorn was in use until November 1987 and this has now returned to working order (April 2018). The Mull of Galloway Foghorn is currently the only operational Foghorn on mainland Scotland. You can find out more about the refurbishment, hear a blast and see more photographs by visiting our gallery.
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 from South Rhins Community Development Trust. The Mull of Galloway Trust now operates the Exhibition and Tower tours and they are responsible for the refurbishment of the engines and Foghorn.
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.
The Kelvin Diesel Engines are now running again after 30 years of silence and we currently have the only operational Foghorn on mainland Scotland.
We will be undertaking a complete refurbishment of the Exhibition over the winter months of 2020/2021.
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.