Duncansby Stacks and Lighthouse
Rugged Scotland by the coast
The stunning coast around the north-east of Scotland makes its mark on everyone who visits. Sheer cliffs, rocky outcrops and bustling wildlife can be found all over. This is the perfect antidote to everyday city living. One of the finest escapes near Mackays Hotel is at Duncansby Stacks.
Found towards the most north-easterly point of Scotland’s mainland, the stacks and nearby lighthouse are popular tourist attractions. Especially for those with a sense of adventure…
Discovering Duncansby Stacks
The Duncansby Stacks are a geological marvel. Three huge sandstone pyramids reach out from the sea to heights over 60m. There are three stacks in total. The tallest is called the Great Stack, and is even higher than the mainland! Formed through the way the land has been weathered and eroded over thousands of years, these stacks are remnants of where the coastline used to be, and act as a reminder that Scotland is constantly changing.
On a 14-day NC500 trip staying in 10 different hotels, this one stood out food wise as the best, including over some more expensive accommodation. We had a DBB rate. Usually hotels only provide a table d’hote menu if dinner is included but McKays allowed us full range of the menu. Our dinner was perfect even without a glass of wine to go with our steaks due to covid regs in Scotland. The breakfast was also the best on our trip. Top marks to the kitchen staff. I gather the hotel is family run over a couple of generations and it shows. Friendly, attentive staff at reception and restaurant. Warm and welcoming.
Duncansby Head Lighthouse
Head slightly further along the coast and visit Duncansby Head Lighthouse
Duncansby Head Lighthouse offers more stunning views out across the north sea, and the lighthouse has quite the history to it.
The waters around here are treacherous and ships travelling without care can quickly end up on the seafloor. So in 1914 a temporary fog light was installed and then made permanent the following decade. It was built by David Alan Stevenson in 1924, one of 26 lighthouses he built around Scotland. During World War II, the lighthouse was shot at by a German bomber. Fortunately, no damage was done to any people or to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was automated in 1997.
Duncansby Head, the stacks and surrounding coastline is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This means that it is a protected area and holds special scientific significance. The geology and nature here is fascinating, and can be seen together at one ear-splitting location! Once you have enjoyed the lighthouse, take a short walk towards Geo of Sclaites. This is a large crevice in the cliffs where countless seagulls call their home. The smell of fish can sometimes be overwhelming!
The true north of Scotland?
The northernmost point in Scotland
Duncansby Head is not particularly well known across the country, especially compared to John O’Groats which lies a few miles to the west. John O’Groats is regarded as the most northerly point of the UK mainland, but Duncansby is probably further away from Lands End in Cornwall by a couple of miles. However, this doesn’t detract from the beauty of this rugged landscape.
Walking to Duncansby Stacks and Lighthouse
Adventure awaits in the far north of Scotland!
No matter the weather, this is a magnificent area of Scotland to visit at any time of year. Whether the seas are calm on a sunny day, or waves are crashing onto the rock in winter, the pure force and majesty of nature is evident here. It’s perfectly easy to visit Duncansby Stacks and lighthouse on a day trip from Mackays Hotel, and if you need any more information about getting the most out of your day, please don’t hesitate to ask us. If this inspires you, be sure to check out the range of other outdoor activities available to you when staying here in Wick.