The Duncansby Stacks are a popular spot on the NC500 and it’s easy to see why as they really are quite spectacular. If you are planning a visit to John O’Groats on your NC500 road trip then we highly recommend visiting the Duncansby Stacks too!
What are the Duncansby Stacks
Duncansby Stacks is a sea stack, which are cliffs consisting of the largest and oldest rocks in a cliff that have been eroded by continual pounding from the sea. The site is located on the northeast coast of Scotland, about north of John O’Groats. It sits between Durness and Dunnet Head.
It is a large sea stack of about 150 meters height and it was formed by the erosion of more resistant rocks below the cliffs that have been eroded to form this impressive sea stack. The Duncansby Stacks lie near Johnshaven in Aberdeenshire and are part of an impressive coastline with wonderful rock formations which can be seen from a variety of different angles.
From one point you will see narrow ravines cut deep into the rock face while other viewing points show various shapes created by long-gone retreating tides.
How was Duncansby Stacks formed?
The stacks are composed of Old Red Sandstone, which formed approximately 390 million years ago in an arid desert environment before being submerged by water during an ice age 20 million years ago. The waves from the North Sea gradually eroded away at these rocks over time.
This process has continued up until this day with many more layers being laid down for future erosion to work its magic on them too!
How tall are the Duncansby Stacks?
The Duncansby Stacks stand at a height of 60 metres tall.
They are made up of sandstone that was deposited in the late Jurassic Period 165 to 195 millions years ago. These rocks were then formed into sandstone by wind and water erosion from the North Sea before being pushed onto land by tectonic forces over 40 million years ago.
The stack’s height can be attributed to how it was formed since they were not standing as high as they are now when first created but because they have been eroded over many years, their height has increased due to an increase in height through weathering and eroding (processes).
Where Is Duncansby Stacks Located?
The Duncansby Stacks is a coastal headland located on the north-east coast of Scotland, just south-west of John o’Groats. The stacks are composed mainly of columnar basalt, which has been eroded over time.
How To Get to Duncansby Stacks?
There is parking at Duncansby Lighthouse and it is a short walk over fields from here to get to the Duncansby Stacks.
You can also park at John O’Groats and take a beautiful coastal walk past Sannick Bay to Duncansby Lighthouse and the stacks which takes around 50 minutes – 1 hour each way.
Can you wild camp at Duncansby lighthouse?
No – You cannot wild camp here as the area is enclosed for livestock so it is not allowed.
Is There Accessible Parking Available When Visiting Duncansby Stacks?
You can park at the lighthouse, where there are roughly 20-30 places to park, there is a small fee for the car park.
Do You Have to Hike to Reach Duncansby Stacks?
There is a small 10-15 minutes walk to the best viewpoint of the rock formation, this is across a field full of sheep, so it could get very boggy and as its on the north coast, it does get very windy a lot of the time.
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Duncansby Stacks?
The best time of year to visit the Duncansby Stacks is during the summer, as with most outdoor things to do in Scotland, it is best to visit during Spring / Summer to be in with a chance of better weather.
There are no fees to access the stacks, The stacks make for a great day trip and can be combined with a stop in John O’Groats.
What Should I Pack If I Plan on Visiting Duncansby Stacks?
We recommend wearing suitable footwear, especially if you are taking the coastal path from John O’Groats to get to the stacks as you will be walking over fields to get there. We also recommend taking waterproof clothing as the weather can change very quickly in Scotland, and if you are visiting in colder months then we recommend taking warm clothing as it can get very cold in Scotland, especially when you are right by the coast.
We recommend taking snacks and water to drink if you are taking the coastal walk to get to the stacks as it is roughly a 2 hour round trip, and we recommend taking a camera to get some great photos of the stacks.
How To Incorporate Duncansby Stacks into Your North Coast 500 Route?
It is very easy to incorporate the Duncansby Stacks into your NC500 route as they are right on the official route so you will certainly be passing them.
We recommend taking a trip to see the Duncansby Stacks as part of your NC500 road trip and recommend taking the beautiful coastal path from John O’Groats to get there, if you can!
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