South Stack

Coordinates: 53°18′24.5″N 4°41′55.5″W / 53.306806°N 4.698750°W

South Stack3
View along the rugged coastline from South Stack
South Stack Lighthouse - - 870858
South Stack lighthouse on the island. The footbridge from the mainland is just visible

South Stack (Welsh: Ynys Lawd) is an island situated just off Holy Island on the northwest coast of Anglesey.


South Stack is famous as the location of one of Wales' most spectacular lighthouses, South Stack Lighthouse. It has a height of 41 metres (135 feet). It has a maximum area of 7 acres.

Until 1828 when an iron suspension bridge was built, the only means of crossing the deep water channel on to the island was in a basket which was suspended on a hemp cable. The suspension bridge was replaced in 1964, but by 1983 the bridge had to be closed to the public, due to safety reasons. A new aluminium bridge was built and the lighthouse was reopened for public visits in 1997. Thousands of people flock to the lighthouse every year, thanks to the continued public transport service from Holyhead's town centre.

There are over 390 stone steps down to the footbridge, and 10 metal steps (and not, as local legend suggests, 365), and the descent and ascent provide an opportunity to see some of the 8,000 nesting birds that line the cliffs during the breeding season. The cliffs are part of the RSPB South Stack Cliffs bird reserve, with a visitor centre, and bird hide at Elin's Tower. The tower provides a place to see chough, peregrine falcon, kestrel and various marine mammals such as harbour porpoise seen at high tide, grey seal, Risso's dolphin and bottlenose dolphin.

The Anglesey Coastal Path passes South Stack, as does the Cybi Circular Walk.[1] The latter has long and short variants; the short walk is 4 miles long and takes around two hours to complete. Travelling from the Breakwater Country Park, other sites along the way are the North Stack Fog Signal station, Caer y Tŵr, Holyhead Mountain and Tŷ Mawr Hut Circles.

The South Stack Formation was chosen as one of the top 100 geosites in the United Kingdom by the Geological Society of London, for its display of small-scale folding.[2]

In culture

Siren cover shot

The cover photo for Roxy Music's Siren album was taken directly below the central span of the bridge on a slope on the south side, by Graham Hughes in August 1975.[3]

Les Gardiens des Enfers

In 2010 a French comic entitled Les Gardiens des Enfers ("The Guardians of Hell") was published. Its story is mainly set in South Stack lighthouse in 1859. The cover and the first pages can be seen on the publisher's website.[4]

See also

  • South Stack fleawort (Tephroseris integrifolia subsp. maritima), a plant endemic to the area around South Stack


  1. ^ "Circular walks - Holyhead: St Cybi". Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  2. ^ "The Geological Society's 100 Great Geosites". The Geological Society. 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Roxy Music - Albums - on". Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  4. ^ Les Gardiens des Enfers

Brynrefail (Welsh pronunciation) is a small village in north-east Anglesey, Wales.


Burwen is a village in Anglesey, Wales.


Dwyran is a village on the island of Anglesey, in north-west Wales, in the community of Rhosyr.

Holyhead Mountain

Holyhead Mountain (Mynydd Tŵr in Welsh: from (pen)twr, meaning "tower") is the highest mountain on Holy Island, Anglesey, and the highest in the county of Anglesey, north Wales. It lies about two miles west of the town of Holyhead, and slopes steeply down to the Irish Sea on two sides. Ireland can be seen from here on a clear day and the mountain is an important site for seabirds.

List of lighthouses in Wales

This is a list of lighthouses in Wales. The list runs anticlockwise from north-east to south-east Wales.


Llaingoch (Welsh pronunciation) is an area of Holyhead in North Wales that lies between the town centre and Holyhead Mountain. The name comes from the Welsh llain, plot or patch of land, and goch, red.


Llangristiolus is a village and community in the middle of Anglesey, Wales, southwest of Llangefni, and is named after Saint Cristiolus. The River Cefni flows through the village. The village is within a mile of the A5 and A55 roads. The village of Rhostrehwfa is in the community.

The church of St Cristiolus, Llangristiolus, dates from the 12th century.


Llanidan is a community in south-west Anglesey, Wales which includes the village of Brynsiencyn (Welsh pronunciation). The parish is along the Menai Strait, about 4 miles north-east of Caernarfon (across the strait). The parish church of St Nidans is near the A4080 highway, a little to the east of Brynsiencyn. The ruins of an earlier parish church survive.

MV Oliver Cromwell

The MV Oliver Cromwell was a Mississippi-style riverboat which was constructed as a Dutch barge in 1922 and converted into a riverboat hotel in 1993. As a stern Paddle steamer and served as a hotel, restaurant and cabaret venue in Gloucester Docks, Gloucester. The vessel sank in the Irish sea about 10 miles (16 km) west of South Stack, Anglesey on 25 March 2018 whilst being towed to a new location in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

North Stack

North Stack (Welsh: Ynys Arw, meaning "rugged island") is a small island situated just off Holy Island on the north-west coast of Anglesey.North Stack can also refer to the headland opposite the island. This is the site of a redundant fog warning station, comprising a number of buildings, including the Trinity House Magazine, built in 1861, where shells for the warning cannon were stored. These buildings now house a bird watching observatory, giving a view of South Stack lighthouse across Gogarth Bay, and the studio of artist Philippa Jacobs. The Precambrian quartzite cliffs of this headland, including North Stack Walls and Wen Zawn, provide one of the largest ranges of rock climbs in Britain, such as "A Dream of White Horses", "The Cad" and "The Bells! The Bells!" The climbing areas at North Stack have been documented since the 1970s in a series of local guidebooks. Leading climbers such as Paul Pritchard have put up many extreme new routes.

The stack was the site of a crash of a US Eighth Air Force B-24 Bomber on 22 December 1944 that killed the eight crew on board.


Pont-Hwfa (also Pont Hwfa) is a village in the community of Caergybi, Ynys Môn, Wales, which is 140.8 miles (226.6 km) from Cardiff and 227.5 miles (366.1 km) from London.


Rhoscolyn is a village and community located on Holy Island, Anglesey, Wales. It is just over five miles south of Holyhead and is the most southerly settlement on the island. The name Rhoscolyn is said to mean "The Moor" (Rhos) of The Column (colyn), referring to a pillar which the Romans put up to mark the edge of their territories. The community population taken from the 2011 census was 542. The community includes the village of Four Mile Bridge.

A little to the west of the village is a mediaeval well dedicated to St Gwenfaen beside which are the remains of a drystone well house measuring 4.5 m east-west by 5.5 m. The local church in the village itself is dedicated to the same saint and was first built in the 6th century.Rhoscolyn is bordered to the south by a small enclosed bay called Borthwen which is bordered by a public beach. There was once a lifeboat station on Borthwen which was open between 1830 and 1929 which has been replaced by a navigational beacon on Ynysoedd Gwylanod ('Gulls' Islands'). Around these waters at the end of the 18th century was a thriving oyster catching industry, but this declined once the beds had been depleted. Existing buildings include the local pub, The White Eagle, reportedly a favourite of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and the Ysgol Gynradd Santes Gwenfaen primary school which is found just over a mile north of the village.

Probably the most significant lifeboat incident here was the launch to the Timbo. On December 1, 1920 the small coaster, was en route to Ireland from Holyhead when she was overcome by a storm off South Stack and began to drift down the coast. The lifeboat was launched, with great difficulty in the heavy seas, and made a number of attempts to get a line aboard her, without success, until the cox decided no more could be done and the lifeboat started its return journey, from a point close to Ynys Llanddwyn. The lifeboat capsized and 5 of the 13 man crew were lost, and, a little later, 4 men from the Timbo as well. The ship eventually became stranded at Dinas Dinlle, was eventually refloated with the use of tugs until she struck Carreg y Trai reef off Abersoch and was lost.

South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserve

South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserve is a nature reserve, run by the RSPB, on Holy Island on the North West coast of Anglesey, Wales. The reserve is on sea cliffs facing the islet of South Stack, and is crossed by the Anglesey Coastal Path. There is an information centre based in Elin's Tower in the reserve.

It is best known for its breeding seabirds, including puffins, razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes and fulmars. peregrine falcons, kestrels and choughs also nest on the cliffs.

Famous for its rare species and fascinating geology, South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserve helps to conserve the Silver-studded blue butterfly Plebejus argus found on the reserve in Spring. The Spathulate fleawort, a small yellow flower, is only found here, in the whole World.

South Stack Formation

The South Stack Formation is a sequence of late Neoproterozoic metasedimentary rocks exposed in northwestern Anglesey, North Wales. The outcrop of this formation at South Stack was chosen as one of the top 100 geosites in the United Kingdom by the Geological Society of London, for its display of small-scale folding.

South Stack Lighthouse

The South Stack Lighthouse is built on the summit of a small island off the north-west coast of Holy Island, Anglesey, Wales. It was built in 1809 to warn ships of the dangerous rocks below.

TSS Slieve Bloom (1908)

TSS Slieve Bloom was a twin screw steamer cargo vessel operated by the London and North Western Railway from 1908 to 1918.

TSS South Stack (1900)

TSS South Stack was a twin screw steamer passenger and cargo vessel operated by the London and North Western Railway from 1900 to 1923, and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway from 1923 to 1931.

Tephroseris integrifolia subsp. maritima

Tephroseris integrifolia subsp. maritima, also known as the spathulate fleawort or South Stack fleawort, is endemic to Holyhead Island, occurring only around South Stack. It is a subspecies of the field fleawort Tephroseris integrifolia.It is a single-stemmed plant, typically with more than six capitula (flower heads), which flowers in June.


Trearddur or Trearddur Bay (Welsh: Bae Trearddur) is a village, seaside resort and community south of Holyhead on the west coast of Holy Island off the north-west coast of Anglesey in Wales.

Islands of Anglesey

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