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England & Wales Scotland Ireland

Fair Isle North Lighthouse

Shetland Isles

Location Guide

Located at the north east tip of the island. It is on a rocky promontory with the light being 47 feet above ground level and 262 feet above the spring tides.

A view eastwards towards the North Lighthouse

Photo by Dr Julian Paren

The station was heavily damaged by two German air raids in the spring of 1941, with the dwelling houses being machine gunned, and two bombs dropped and landing about 60 yards south east of the tower, damage was confined to broken glass only. A second attack saw more machine gun fire and two HB bombs dropped, this time landing on buildings 30 feet from the back wall of the dwelling houses. These out houses, and 24 feet of boundary wall were completely demolished.

Roderick Macaulay, Assistant Lightkeeper, walked 3 miles from his North Lighthouse, where he and his daughter had a narrow escape in the former raid, through snowdrifts and gale-force winds to lend a hand in restoring the Fair Isle South Lighthouse back into operational order, and then returned in the dark to take his own regular watch back at the North Light. He received at BEM for his outstanding services.

Eventually due to a number of considerations including condition of buildings, social amenities, neighbouring aids etc, the keepers were withdrawn from this station and an automatic light and fog signal was established. The operation of the light and fog signal is monitored today from the Scottish mainland via the public telephone system.

Fair Isle North Lighthouse at Midsummer Midnight

Photo by Dave Wheeler

Fair Isle has a permanent bird observatory founded in 1948, and as well as providing a watch point for bird migration it also provides most of the accommodation on the island. It is unusual in that it provides catered accommodation rather than hostel-style. Many rare species have been found on the island.

Fair isle is an isolated island 30 miles south of the Shetland mainland. It is accessible by air from Lerwick, twice a week in the summer and once in winter, or by Ferry from Sumburgh Head, near the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, 3 times a week in summer and once a week in winter. The permanent population is less than 100.

Lighthouse information Grid


Fair Isle North Lighthouse, Shetland Isles

Current status:


Geographic Position:

59 33.122'N   001 36.531'W

Grid Reference:


Ceremonial County:

Shetland Isles


White tower with 37 steps to the top of tower. 1 storey keeper's quarters and other buildings enclosed by a stone wall.

Map Link:


Aerial photo:

Other photos:

Geograph   closeup photo    photos   photo

Originally built:


Current lighthouse built:

Height of Tower:

14 metres

Height of light above mean sea level:

80 metres

Character of light:

Flashing (2) White every 30 Secs

Character of fog signal:

Horn (3) every 45 seconds

Range of light:

22 nautical miles

Owned / run by:

Northern Lighthouse Board

Getting there:

Fair Isle can be reached from the Shetland mainland either by the island mailboat or by 8-seater 'Islander' aircraft.


accessible by road. Site open, tower closed.



Other Useful Websites:


Other Relevant pages:

For more articles, lists and other information see the Lighthouses Section

Lighthouse Map of Scotland

Featured List of lighthouses - Scotland 

List of minor lighthouses and lights - Scotland  

Fair Isle South Lighthouse

Fair Isle, Shetland


Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Tracey Park   Section:  Lighthouses Section Key:
Page Ref: Fair_Isle_North Topic: Lighthouses Last Updated: 06/2010


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