South Stack

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

View along the rugged coastline from South Stack
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 Choughs, Peregrine falcon, Kestrel and various marine mammals like the 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[edit]

Siren cover shot[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

  • 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 2016-02-18.
  4. ^ Les Gardiens des Enfers