Stacks of Duncansby from John o' Groats.

Start. John o' Groats.

Route. John o' Groats - Robert's Haven - Ness of Duncansby - Bay of Sannick - Duncansby Head - Geo of Sclaites - Stacks of Duncansby - Burn of Sannick - Bay of Sannick - Ness of Duncansby - Robert's Haven - John o' Groats.

Notes. John o’ Groats famed for being the most northerly point on the British mainland, unfortunately it’s not, Dunnet Head lays claim to that prize. It’s not even the true northeastern point, no that badge is pinned clearly on the chest of Duncansby Head, but all this trivia matters not a jot. This walk starts at John o’ Groats amongst the gift shops and many tourists that flock there, it takes the coastal path through staggering scenery, passes the lighthouse on Duncansby Head before turning south gifting the lucky visitor with unbelievable views to the Stacks of Duncansby.

We left the large car park at John o’ Groats via the coastal path heading east, above the rocky shore line we wandered enjoying stunning views over the Pentland Firth, Stroma, Hoy and the Orkney Islands stretched across the horizon. Passed Robert’s Haven we wandered before rounding Ness of Duncansby, we continued above the white sands of Bay of Sannick. After fording a narrow burn we ascended the hill, crossed a stile to the safe side of the fence then continued to Duncansby Head.

Our route clung to the fence line and cliff top, just before reaching the light house our way was blocked by two massive blow holes and a natural arch, this is known as The Glump, the path skirted round the foreboding holes as did we, I guess with a heavy sea running this will be a spectacular spot. We continued to the lighthouse.

Now get your camera out, or whatever you use to record the moment, turn south, climb a low rise and be prepared to be blown away. I find words hard to describe the view down the coast, a saw tooth shore line of massive cliffs melt into the horizon, what draws the eye two massive sea stacks rising pyramid like from the North Sea, the Stacks of Duncansby. Viewed from a distance they're spectacular, viewed from closer up they're awesome, we felt the need to get closer.

Continuing towards the stacks we descended, passed Geo of Sclaites a massive gash cutting through the cliffs, when the path reached the head of a valley it ascended to what I can only describe as the dress circle, the cliffs opposite the stacks. We wandered on to the second stack before stopping, taking our seats and enjoying the scene in front of us. What a scene it was, sea birds, seals, stacks, needles and sea cliffs dissolving into the distance.

We sat ages soaking it all in, when we eventually headed back it was by re-tracing our steps to the head of the valley, the paths lowest point. We turned left a green trod then guided us to the lighthouse access road, we crossed to re-join the coast at Bay of Sannick. All that remained to re-trace our steps to John o’ Groats and hopefully find something to eat.

view route map.


Our starting point for this mind blowing walk.

The small harbour at John o' Groats with views to the Island of Stroma.

The Knocking Stones shoreline, John o' Groats.

Looking back to John o' Groats from the edge of Robert's Haven.

Big skies and calm seas over the Pentland Firth.

Robert's Haven, by the amount of cut stones along the shore line I guess this was once a small harbour, the history books tell us it was once a Viking settlement.

Views over Bay of Sannick to the lighthouse on Duncansby Head.

Burn of Sannick and a stunning view over the Pentland Firth.

Ascend to Duncansby Head and the views open out, the shoreline we've just traversed, on the far horizon the long finger of Dunnet Head reaches into the Pentland Firth.

Duncansby Head lighthouse guardian of the headland and savior of lives since 1924.

Staggering views south down the east coast of Caithness, to the right what us and many other visitors have come to marvel at, the Stacks of Duncansby.

Thirle Door and the Stacks of Duncansby, nature at its very best.

Viewing The Knee from the cliff top above Thirle Door.

Rising from the salt water of the North Sea, Duncansby Stacks with the formidable cliffs of the Caithness coast running south.

The cliff top above the stacks provides a fine view point.

Don't just sit there eulogizing over Duncansby Stacks, turn your head and drink in stunning vistas over the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands.

Bay of Sannick passed on our return trek.

Viewing Muckle Skerry the largest of the Pentland Skerries, clearly visible the Pentland Skerries Lighthouse.

The old winch at Robert's Haven, once used to winch boats onto the beach.

Sitting on the dock back at John o' Groats, dining on fish and chips with this view for company.

back to top

back to list