The Stacks

Sea Kayaking

The Stacks / Ynys Lawd ac Ynys Arw | ©Ray Wood

The Stacks

Sea Kayaking

The coastline between Soldier’s Point at Holyhead and Abraham’s Bosom is arguably the most impressive in the whole of Wales. Here you will find the spectacular cliffs of Gogarth, a dramatic run of indented zawns and sheer rock faces which plunge straight into the sea. Aside from the epic rock architecture there are two sizeable islands, Ynys Lawd or South Stack and Ynys Arw or North Stack which provide the name for this famous trip.

North Stack sits just off shore from Parliament House Cave. There is a beach here and often seals; plus a convoluted escape route via a watery tunnel (too narrow for a kayak) and scramble up to the Fog Warning Station on the cliff top. Annie’s Arch in Wen Zawn is impressive, as is Main Cliff, the 100m high overhanging face of quartzite just to the south. South Stack is joined to the mainland via a foot bridge, the access point to the lighthouse on the island. The cliffs here, known as Mousetrap Zawn and Red Wall by climbers are home to thousands of nesting birds in the spring season – paddlers should keep out to sea during the February to July period to avoid causing disturbance. On top of Castell Helen there is the distinctive white building, Ellin’s Tower – this is a RSPB bird watching centre.

The Stacks is undoubtedly a serious trip requiring a good deal of experience and careful planning. There are significant overfalls and extremely strong tidal streams to contend with. The dearth of egress options also makes it a committing proposition; once you get going escape will not be easy.


There is a beach at Soldier’s Point on the eastern edge of Holyhead harbour. There is also a beach at Abraham’s Bosom with steps and path access.

Safety & Access
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Safety & Access

The publisher of this website accepts no responsibility for the way in which readers use the information contained therein. The descriptions and recommendations are for guidance only and must be subject to discriminating judgement by the reader. Advice and training should be sought before utilising any equipment or techniques mentioned within the text or shown in any of the photographic images. Kayaking and canoeing are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.


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Books, Guides & Maps

Welsh Sea Kayaking

As well as providing essential information on where to start and finish, distances, times and tidal information, the book does much to stimulate and inform our interest in the environment we are passing through.


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