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Duncansby Stacks In Scotland – A Complete Guide

The towering Duncansby Stacks are located just off the shore of Duncansby Head, the most north easterly part of the Scottish mainland. Here is a complete guide.

How To Get To Duncansby Stacks

Duncansby Stacks sit approximately 500m south of Duncansby Lighthouse. In fact, this is only a couple of miles east of John O’Groats in the north of Scotland.

On Foot

If you are visiting John O’Groats, you can take a leisurely walk to the Duncansby Stacks.

Moreover, the path that you follow along the coastline has lovely scenic views to enjoy along the way.


There are daily buses from the city of Inverness to the towns of Wick and Thurso.

From either of these nearby towns you will be able to get a local bus to John O’Groats. After arriving here it’s a short walk to the stacks.


Follow the signposts from John O’Groats to Duncansby Head. Next, take the turning opposite the petrol station and post office. The drive from John O’Groats is just under 2 miles.

There is a large, free car park at Duncansby Lighthouse. Once here, views of the stacks can be reached by a short, 500-metre walk along the cliff tops.

If you have not already spotted the stacks from the car park, don’t worry, there is a sign to direct you.


For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.

A great 90 minute tour that includes great views of Duncansby Stacks is the Wildlife Cruise from John O’Groats.

Duncansby Stacks Entrance Fee

It is free to visit Duncansby Stacks.

Duncansby Stacks Car Park Scotland
The free carpark at Duncansby Stacks.

Duncansby Stacks Opening Times

Duncansby Stacks is open all day, every day.

Duncansby Stacks Scotland
Heading across the marshlands in the wind.

Best Time To Visit Duncansby Stacks

It apparently doesn’t get overly busy here at any time of the day. This maybe as a result of most tourists not venturing further than John O’Groats!

These natural wonders are an awesome sight at any time of the day or year. However, sunsets and sunrises here are said to be spectacular.

Good footwear is recommended as the walk along the grassy cliff tops is a bit uneven as well as sometimes muddy.

Also, watch out for sheep poo! There are lots of sheep and therefore lots of poo.

There are no facilities at Duncansby Stacks however, there are toilets and cafes at the John O’Groats Signpost area.

Don’t forget your camera!

What To Pack

Photography Camera


Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle


Lightweight Rain Jacket

Duncansby Stacks Scotland
A clear trail ahead.
Duncansby Stacks Scotland
The cliffs on the walk across the marshlands.
Duncansby Stacks Scotland
Be careful of the sheer drops.

Duncansby Stacks History

Composed of red sandstone, estimated to be 400 million years old, these sea stacks are said to have formed over 6,000 years ago.

As the turbulent North Sea battered away at the surrounding cliffs, the softer parts of the cliffs were gradually eroded.

Consequently, these two impressive geological formations, standing 60m high like giant pinnacles, were created.

Interestingly, there are actually three stacks however, one remains joined to the cliffs. This third one is attached to the cliffs via what has been named the Thirle Door Arch.

A must visit on the North Coast 500 trail!

Duncansby Stacks Scotland
Getting closer.
Duncansby Stacks Scotland
The trail around the edge of the coast.

What To Expect At Duncansby Stacks In Scotland

This is wild Scotland at its breathtaking best and you won’t be disappointed with the amazing views.

If you park at the lighthouse and walk over the hill, keeping the sea on your left, you will reach the viewing area that offers the most spectacular views of the Duncansby Stacks.

Towering over 60m above the turbulent waters of the North Sea, these giant sea stacks make for a dramatic view and offer up some amazing photo opportunities.

These remnants of where the coastline used to be, act as a constant reminder that the Scottish coastline is constantly changing.

In addition, on your walk over to the stacks you are likely to see an abundance of birds. Including puffins, razorbills, Guillemots, Gannets, Gulls as well as Rock Doves and more. Also, look out for seals.

We done the drive round from John O’Groats after camping there for the night and this quick stop was a good place to add to your NC500 itinerary. Before heading on to Dunnet Head and Puffin Cove.

Duncansby Stacks Scotland
All smiles at Duncansby Stacks.
Duncansby Stacks Lighthouse Scotland
The pastel lighthouse standing proud.
Duncansby Stacks Car Park Scotland
Heading back to the vans for the next destination.

Where To Stay In Scotland


exploreNESS Apartment

Offering free WiFi and free private parking, exploreNESS Apartment is located in Inverness, just 0.8 miles from Inverness Castle.

The property is less than 0.6 miles from Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and 1.6 miles from Caledonian Thistle.

The apartment features 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 1 bathroom with a shower. Towels and bed linen are provided.

A buffet breakfast is available daily at the apartment.


Loch Earn

Located 1.7 miles from Inverness Castle, Loch Earn provides accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking.

There is also a kitchen in some of the units with a dishwasher, a fridge, and an oven.

A continental breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast.

Guests can relax in the garden at the property.


Inverness Youth Hostel

Just 10 minutes’ walk from Inverness Rail Station, Inverness Youth Hostel offers free private parking and bicycle storage.

Eastgate shopping centre is a 10-minute walk from this hostel. Hootananny, a popular music venue, is just 15 minutes’ walk away.

Culloden Battlefield and its visitor centre is just a 10-minute drive away. The banks of Loch Ness and the country village of Dores are both a 20-minute drive away.

All rooms have a shared bathroom. Packed lunch and luggage storage is available on request.

For more places to stay in Scotland, you can check the latest prices on

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight.

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile.

Book Your Rental Car

Use to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

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Duncansby Stacks Scotland