Until 1828 when an iron suspension bridge was built, the only means of crossing the deep water channel on to the island was in a basket which was suspended on a hemp cable. The suspension bridge was replaced in 1964, but by 1983 the bridge had to be closed to the public, due to safety reasons. A new aluminium bridge was built and the lighthouse was reopened for public visits in 1997. Thousands of people flock to the lighthouse every year, thanks to the continued public transport service from Holyhead's town centre.
There are over 400 stone steps down to the footbridge (and not, as local legend suggests, 365), and the descent and ascent provide an opportunity to see some of the 4,000 nesting birds that line the cliffs during the breeding season. The cliffs are part of the RSPB South Stack Cliffs bird reserve, based at Elin's Tower.
The Anglesey Coastal Path passes South Stack, as does the Cybi Circular Walk. The latter has long and short variants; the short walk is 4 miles long and takes around two hours to complete. Travelling from the Breakwater Country Park, other sites along the way are the North Stack Fog Signal station, Caer y Tŵr, Holyhead Mountain and Tŷ Mawr Hut Circles.
Siren cover shot
The cover photo for Roxy Music's Siren album was taken directly below the central span of the bridge on a slope on the south side, by Graham Hughes in August 1975. He worked from sketches produced by Antony Price, with the eventual concept featuring model Jerry Hall striking various poses. The idea for the location was Bryan Ferry's, after he saw a TV documentary about lava flows and rock formations in Anglesey, in which South Stack was heavily featured.
Les Gardiens des Enfers
In 2010 a French comic entitled Les Gardiens des Enfers ("The Guardians of Hell") was published. Its story is mainly set in South Stack lighthouse in 1859. The cover and the first pages can be seen on the publisher's website.