IT has its own ruined Iron Age fort and was blackened with soot during the Second World War to hide it from enemy bombers, but now a 19th century lighthouse keeper’s home could be given a new lease of life.

Dating back to 1815, Corsewall Lighthouse, which was built by Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather, commands an impressive position on the northern coast of the Rhins of Galloway.

And now a couple have ploughed their life savings into it and bought their dream property which they plan to turn into a boutique hotel.

Helen Mason and her fiancé, photographer John Harris, of Sheringham, Norfolk, saw the Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel on the market and decided to buy the place they had fallen in love with when visiting eight years before.

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They have now moved 400 miles and put £400,000 towards the purchase of the property, which is connected to the main tower, and secured a £165,000 commercial mortgage from specialist finance group Together.

Ms Mason and Mr Harris are hoping to start operating again when the UK hospitality sector re-opens after lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Ms Mason, 60, a former head of music service, said: “We came up here and stayed in a friend’s bothy about eight years ago, saw the area and fell in love with it. We almost forgot about it but once Covid hit, we decided that the time was right for us to make a change.

“When we saw the hotel was for sale, we realised it could be the ideal opportunity. It’s perfect for John’s photography and builds on my love of working with people and interest in food and hospitality. After spending a week there in the summer we were sure this is what we wanted.”

Helen Mason and John Harris bought their dream property, Corsewall Lighthouse. Photo by John Harris Photography

Helen Mason and John Harris bought their dream property, Corsewall Lighthouse. Photo by John Harris Photography

Set in 20 acres on one of Scotland’s most spectacular stretches of coastline, the lighthouse has acted as the backdrop for TV and films – playing host to Hollywood actor Gerard Butler who filmed blockbuster The Vanishing there – and even has its own ruined Iron Age fort, Dunskirloch, on site.

“It’s a hidden gem,” said Mr Harris, 62, who was a project manager with BT before taking up photography professionally. “We’ve got some of the oldest rock formations in the UK, dating back to when Scotland was connected to Newfoundland in Canada, and the rocks are particular to the Scottish coast.

“During World War II, the lighthouse was blackened with soot to hide it from German bombers. But the Luftwaffe accidentally bombed it anyway, mistaking it for key military targets across the Irish Sea in Belfast.

“There are four resident deer, seals, porpoises and a sea otter has been seen swimming around the lighthouse. It’s a photographer’s dream.”

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After buying the lighthouse hotel through estate agent, Christie and Company, the couple have made a few changes; opening up some of the informal dining areas and removing some of the dated ornaments the previous owners had left behind. They have retained the five staff members who had been working at the hotel before its change of ownership and plan to employ more seasonal workers in the summer.

Andrew Downie, who has been at the hotel for the past 20 years will continue as head chef and will continue to work with local suppliers to focus on seasonal produce such as locally-reared Galloway beef, in preparation for its re-opening following lockdown.

Ms Mason added they are positive about the future despite the impact covid has had on the hospitality sector.

She said: “We have put a strong business plan in place and believe that, once restrictions ease, there will be more people looking for UK-based holidays and we have the perfect place for them to come and stay.”