High 5: Sea stacks and arches
Over millennia, patient waves have constantly pounded our coastline, slowly carving out impressive natural sculptures. Here are just some of the masterpieces worth admiring.
Duncansby Stacks, near John O’Groats
The most north-easterly point of mainland Scotland, Duncansby Head is bounded by the powerful Pentland Firth and the North Sea. The dramatic cliffscape includes the Thirle Door (sea arch pictured right) and the Stacks of Duncansby – which form part of an impressive complex of stacks, caves, arches and deep geos. The Great Stack is the largest and at 60m stands higher than the cliffs.
Park at the lighthouse car park and stroll across the headland. Or take the three-kilometre coastal walk from John O’Groats (six kilometres both ways).
Rubha Coigach Wester Ross
Coves, cliffs, stacks and caves line the Rubha Coigach shoreline, north of Achiltibuie. The geology of this place rocks. A new Coigach Geotrail recommends walking routes across the peninsula which visit the oldest rocks in Britain, show evidence of a massive asteroid impact and trace Coigach’s journey across the planet from North America over the last three billion years! Take a guided sea kayak trip to explore the more hard-to-reach coves, stacks and arches. coigach.com/see-and-do/the-coigach-geotrail/
Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie, Moray
Sea and weather have worked their magic on this quartzite sea arch. Look at the end of a violin bow and you’ll see why it got it’s name. Photographers, artists and visitors are drawn to this landmark, fascinated by the way it anchors and frames the play of light between sea and sky. It’s also a safe haven for nesting sea birds. A sign points the way from the village. www.morayways.org.uk/moray-coast-trail.asp
Old Man of Stoer, Assynt
Not to be confused with the Old Man of Storr on Skye, this 70-metre sea stack is off Stoer Head, near Lochinver. Popular with climbers, it usually involves a swim first to the base of the stack with a choice of routes to the top. A signposted trail leads from the car park at Stoer Head Lighthouse along the cliffs to the stack. www.discoverassynt.co.uk
Whale’s Moo, between Portknockie and Cullen
On the Moray Firth Coastal Trail, between Portknockie and Cullen, waves rumble through the Whale’s Moo sea arch. Continue round the headland to Cullen beach where sea stacks known as the Three Kings are lapped by the tides. www.morayways.org.uk/moray-coast-trail.asp