Saint Mary’s Lighthouse

By Ian Middleton

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St. Mary's Lighthouse

The tiny St Mary’s (or Bait) Island, lies just north of Whitley Bay on the coast of North East England. It’s a tidal island that is only accessible by foot or vehicle by means of a short concrete causeway which is revealed at low tide. It’s a popular spot for photographers and photography workshops. When I first visited for a sunset shoot there was a group at the start of the causeway, so after taking a few photos I ventured over to the left where there is a small beach. This viewpoint also provides some great compositions.

On the island is the lighthouse and lighthouse keepers’ cottage. It was all built in 1898 using 645 blocks of stone and 750,000 bricks. Prior to the lighthouse there was an 11th-century monastic chapel. The monks kept a lantern on the tower to warn passing ships of the danger of the rocks. The lighthouse lamp was powered by paraffin, and was not electrified until 1977, St Mary’s was by then the last Trinity House lighthouse lit by oil.

You can easily walk across to the island at low tide and there is also a small museum, a visitor’s centre, and a cafe.

Sunrise or Sunset

Both are great times to photograph this lighthouse. Here are some good viewpoints:

From the start of the causeway

The beach at sunset

 At dusk

Sunrise from the beach

Looks good in Black and White too

When the tide is out

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