Friday, 20 May 2011
From Buchan to Transylvania!
Just south of the sandy sweep of Cruden Bay at a group of skerries known as The Skares there's a change in the rock type to a pink, heavily featured granite. This doesn't form such large cliffs, but there are interesting features on this section; this is the larger of two arches - no chance to paddle through this one though! There are lots of caves along the route, some very large but I elected not to disturb the birds by paddling in at this time of the year.
The skerries at the south of Cruden Bay are a great place to see Atlantic Grey Seals
Some of which are very curious and playful! In the background are the dunes and sandy bay of Cruden.
Passing Port Errol, the tiny harbour of Cruden Bay, the stark and dramatic ruin of Slains Castle is reached. Built in 1594 by the Earl of Errol as a replacement for Old Slains, it must have been a draughty place to live. The castle is quite large and was built around an existing tower house.
The diarists Boswell and Johnson stayed here on their tour of Scotland, but probably the most famous visitor was Bram Stoker who used the castle as inspiration for "Dracula". It's not hard to see why, the gothic lines and drama of the place create a brooding and slightly menacing atmosphere in bright sunlight, never mind a wild moonlit night....
I continued a little further north from here before turning for the paddle back to Collieston. The sun was out though and it was pleasant enough. In Collieston harbour, the kids had finished school and were playing on the sand and swimming in the sea - hardy souls!
This had been a great paddle; the spectacular seabird colonies, wonderful wildflowers, seal encounters, a sandy bay, arches and caves plus a vampire's castle - who says the East coast lacks interest?!
Apart from Port Errol, there are few opportunities for landing along this route (31 kilometres in total). The few bays which are tenable to land in are rocky and much easier to use at higher states of the tide, being bouldery lower down.
The start of the route is on OS Landranger sheet 38 (Aberdeen) with the remainder on sheet 30 (Fraserburgh)
Tides run stronger here than on most of the north east coast. The Springs rate is given at 1.75Kts, turning at roughly HW and LW Aberdeen. I found that close in the stream felt stronger, particularly at the headlands either end of bays, where strong eddies and some turbulence occurs.