Newfoundland’s first lighthouse has stood sentry over St. John’s harbor for more than 200 years and is where you can take in glorious sea views.
Since the early 19th century, the beacon from Fort Amherst’s lighthouse has been an important navigational aid for boats entering St. John’s harbor. The white clapboard structure sits on the top of a promontory on the southern side of the Narrows, the channel that leads to the harbor. Hike to the top of the cliff for the excellent views and to see old military installations.
Due to its strategic location, the British fortified the area soon after they occupied it in the late 18th century. Although the original fortifications are no longer in existence, you can see the remains of World War II gun emplacements.
You cannot take your vehicle up to the lighthouse, so your route to the top is via a short walk. The original lighthouse, built in 1813, was Newfoundland’s first. Today’s building is the third lighthouse on this site and was erected in 1951. It is a private working lighthouse with a beacon and accompanying foghorn that serve as guardians of the harbor to this day.
Look over the traditional red and white exterior of the wooden tower, read the information panel and climb the stairs to the front door. Note, however, that the lighthouse isn't open to visitors. The big draw of this location is its views. Observe ships coming into and going out of the harbor and gaze out to sea. Depending on the season, you may see whales and icebergs. Nearby, the former keeper's residences have been turned into vacation homes.
While you are on the cliff, explore the crumbling remains of World War II installations. Step into bunkers and see gun turrets and the barrels of large cannons.
Fort Amherst is a 10-minute drive from St. John’s. Occasionally, hikers on the East Coast Trail make a short detour to the lighthouse.