While lighthouses were originally built to save ships from smashing into rocks, today's maritime technology means the way they look to visitors on foot is now almost as important as their lifesaving function as a warning beacon.
We asked the General Lighthouse Authority, Trinity House, which looks after lighthouses in England and Wales, and the Association of Lighthouse Keepers to highlight seven of the most stunning and iconic beacons in the country…
South Foreland Lighthouse, Dover
Standing in one of the most dramatic and well-known locations in Britain, this beautiful Victorian lighthouse, built in 1843, perches on top of the White Cliffs of Dover, with outstanding views of the English Channel and the coast of France.
Although it's now decommissioned, it's conserved by the National Trust.
Tarbat Ness Lighthouse, Scotland
The third tallest lighthouse tower in Scotland, at 41 metres, the spectacular red and white striped Tarbat Ness lighthouse stands at the tip of the Tarbat Ness peninsula near the fishing village of Portmahomack on the east coast of Scotland.
First exhibited in 1830, the lighthouse is in a stunning location with unrivalled views across the Moray Firth and Dornoch Firth in the Scottish Highlands.
St John's Point Lighthouse, County Down, Northern Ireland
Set in a remote and beautiful spot, the unusual St John’s Point Lighthouse in gorgeous County Down has a tall 40 metres tower marked with vibrant bands of yellow and black. Its light was first exhibited in 1844, and although it was originally white, it was painted in its distinctive black and yellow hues in 1954.
With views over the Irish Sea and the Mourne Mountains this unique lighthouse is one of 70 lighthouses operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights.
Start Point Lighthouse, Devon
Start Point is one of the most exposed peninsulas on the English coast, running sharply almost a mile into the sea on the south side of Start Bay, near Dartmouth.
The lighthouse, sited at the very end of the headland, has guided vessels in passage along the English Channel for over 150 years. Its 28 metres white tower has a gothic style, with a battlemented parapet.
Souter Lighthouse, Tyne & Wear
The iconic red and white beacon of Souter Lighthouse stands in the village of Marsden, near Sunderland. First lit in 1871, Souter is 23 metres high and is surrounded by miles of grassy fields, spectacular cliffs and rocky bays.
The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988, but is owned by the National Trust.
Bishop Rock Lighthouse, Scilly Isles
Standing majestically on a remote rock ledge, 46m long by 16m wide, four miles west of the Scilly Isles, the dramatic Bishop Rock Lighthouse is known as 'King of the Lighthouses'. Its impressive structure makes it the second tallest lighthouse in Britain, after the Eddystone Lighthouse, and it marks the most South Westerly point in Britain.
Only accessible by boat, Bishop Rock's light was first exhibited in 1858. The rocks it stands on rise sheer from a depth of 45 metres, exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, making this one of the most hazardous sites for the construction of a lighthouse.
South Stack Lighthouse, Wales
Set in a spectacular location to the north-west of Holyhead, the tiny islet known as South Stack Rock lies separated from Holyhead Island by 30m of turbulent sea.
The coastline from the breakwater and around the south western shore is made of large granite cliffs rising sheer from the sea to 60 metres. First lit in 1809, South Stack's stunning white lighthouse is approached by a footbridge via 400 steps cut into the cliff face.
South Stack is one of 64 lighthouses run by the Lighthouse Authority Trinity House, and its spokesperson Neil Jones says: “Trinity House lighthouses are world famous, whether they are offshore granite towers or pastoral clifftop beacons with broad white cottages.
“Often sited in spectacular locations, from the rock-girt west coast to the shifting sands of the east coast via the congested highway that is the English Channel, they perform a vital role in the safety of mariners in all weathers.”