The Belle Tout Lighthouse is a decommissioned lighthouse and British landmark located at Beachy Head, East Sussex close to the town of Eastbourne. The construction of the permanent granite lighthouse began in 1829 and it became operational on 11 October 1834. It has been called “Britain’s most famous inhabited lighthouse” because of its striking location and has been used in both films and television.
In 1999, the Grade II listed building was moved on the 17th March 1999 in one piece to prevent it from succumbing to coastal erosion. Now a Bed and Breakfast with probably the most attractive views in the country looking over the Channel towards France.
The lighthouse was not as successful as had been hoped, with two significant flaws leading to an alternative being sought. The cliff-top location caused problems when sea mists obscured the light, significantly reducing the distance that it would reach. Vessels that sailed too closely to the rocks would not be able to see the light because it was blocked by the edge of the cliff. However, the cliffs of Beachy Head suffered intense coastal erosion over the years and the rocky area started to be covered by the light.
The Belle Tout was in service until 2 October 1902, when a new lighthouse was built at the bottom of the cliffs, known simply at the Beachy Head Lighthouse, the lighthouse was sold off by Trinity House in 1903.
Some useful links
The only issue we came across once at the lighthouse was the lack of facilities, toilets etc. There is a van that sells cold drinks and ice cream but that is pretty much it. A sign is there pointing out that the nearest toilets are at the Visitors Centre a 20 minute walk away.
Next was the lack of fencing, there was none. Apparently the cliffs are a place where people like to go to end their life, and with the cliffs constantly eroding away also, you’d need to be really careful especially if you have young children with you.
But taking all that into consideration it is a fantastic place to go and look at, the views alone make the trip worth while. Some fantastic walk routes surround the place with tracks veering off in many directions.
Here are my pictures, click on one to enlarge them all.