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Climbing Sea Stacks

By Baggy Richards

For me climbing near the sea is a magical and exciting experience. The blend of sea, wind, wildlife and remote situations make it a special place to climb. The UK coastline has over 300 sea stacks. Many are loose, vegetated, awkward to get to and are often covered in bird poo! But all of this adds to the experience.
The 3 classic sea stacks in the UK are Old Man of Hoy, Old Man of Stoer and Am Bucahille which are all found in Scotland. Here are a few general but important tips to bear in mind when you plan to climb sea stacks.

Do Your Homework

Climbing Sea Stacks

You need to do a little homework before attempting to climb a stack. Guidebooks to Scotland give useful info. However, the best sources of advice I have found are the following website pages:

uk climbing

Orkney sea stacks

Boathook (tides)

P&O Scottish Ferries

Calednoian MacBraye Hebridean & Clyde Ferries

Northlink Ferries

The Kit

Climbing Sea Stacks

Each stack requires its own specific equipment. However, I would take on all stacks, abseil tat (min 10ms of 7mm cord ), an assortment of pegs (about 8), a peg hammer, knife, 4 prussic loops, old screw gates to leave behind, laminated copies of the route, a phone and a small first aid kit.

Allow Plenty of Time

Climbing Sea Stacks

Buy yourself plenty of time; get to the stacks early especially in the autumn and spring. These things always take more time than you think.


Climbing Sea Stacks

The weather is critically important. Firstly gain an understanding of tides and tide tables and secondly before an ascent check the sea state by getting an inshore waters forecast or by phoning the coastguard.

Start doing this 2-3 days before your ascent, so as to build up a picture. As all stacks are exposed to vast oceans, better conditions are found in May through to August.


Climbing Sea Stacks

Many stacks are covered by bird restrictions, please make sure that you respect these.


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