The Butt Of Lewis

The Butt Of Lewis is the northernmost point on the Isle of Lewis, capped by a 19th century lighthouse and showing an impressive array of 100ft sea cliffs and offshore islands. The headland is frequently battered by storms and heavy swells, and is one of the windiest locations in the UK.

For the landscape photographer, the main attractions are obviously the lighthouse and cliffs, and it is worth exploring the clifftops around the lighthouse to work it into different compositions. The area is also of interest to the wildlife photographer, as fulmars nest on the offshore sea stacks, which are close enough to the mainland to get a good view of the birds fighting over nesting locations. Shags can also be seen on the cliffs and rocks, and oystercatchers may also be seen on the cliffs or in the fields behind the cliff tops.

Location and Parking

Post Code: HS2 0XH

To reach the Butt Of Lewis, follow the A857 north to reach the last two villages on this road – Lionel and Port Ness. Turn left at either village, to reach the village of Eoropaidh, and from here a track runs out to the lighthouse where there is parking for about 6 cars.

The Lighthouse

The red brick lighthouse was constructed in the 1860s to a design by David Stevenson, who designed about 30 lighthouses around Scotland. It was only automated in 1998, making it one of the last lighthouses in the UK to loose its keeper. For the best view of the lighthouse head west along the clifftops, skirting around a large cove. From this first cove, there is a view of the lighthouse above the cliffs. A second cove further along the cliffs is perhaps even more impressive, but from here the bottom of the lighthouse is hidden from view.

Butt Of Lewis Lighthouse

Butt Of Lewis Lighthouse And Cliffs

Cliffs And Islands

As befits the northernmost point of Lewis, there are some impressive sea cliffs and offshore stacks, all within a short walking distance.  The images below are taken almost directly from the car park.

Cliffs And Islands At The Butt Of Lewis

Butt Of Lewis Cliffs


When we visited in late March there were Fulmars nesting on the top of a sea stack, just a few feet out to sea. This makes it very easy to photograph the birds, but does require a long lens – 600mm being ideal.

Nesting Fulmars

Nesting Fulmars

The cliffs are also populated by shags, but as these nest in the lower parts of the cliffs, the nesting areas cannot be seen. However they can be seen flying in and out from the cliff faces, and can often be seen perched on the rocks below the cliffs.

Resting Shag

Locations Nearby

Not far from the Butt Of Lewis is the wide sandy stretch Eoropie Beach. To reach the beach from the Butt Of Lewis, take the track back to the village of Eoropie and at the first cross-roads continue straight across to arrive at two car parks at the end of the road. The beach is a short walk from the car parks. It seems somehow appropriate that here at effectively the north-westernmost point of Europe is a beach almost named for the whole continent.

Europie Beach

From Eoropie Beach, Port Ness can be visited by returning to the A857 and turning left. Port Ness is the most northerly village on the Isle of Lewis and is strung out along the A857.  At the very end of the road there is a small harbour, which is unfortunately rather industrial looking and not particularly attractive. However by climbing over some rocks to the left of the harbour, there are a few small cliffs that are worth a picture.

Cliffs At Port Ness

Incoming Waves At Port Ness

The rocky northern coastline of Lewis continues east of Port Ness, however it is not easy to explore as the B8105 runs parallel to the coast but about half a mile inland.  There is however a well placed small ruin close to Sgiogarstaigh. To reach this from Port Ness, take the A857 south and after just over half a mile, turn left along the B8105 towards Sgiogarstaigh. At this village, turn left, then left again to reach a few buildings on the coast, one of which is the small ruin which provides a good piece of foreground interest looking out to sea.

Ruin At Sgiogarstaigh


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