West Head. I've paddled here many times but not found this slender arch before. It's narrow, but looks like it can be paddled at most states of the tide.
There are three narrow channels which cut straight through the West Head. It's rare to get conditions which will allow easy passage through them all, but today was one of the rare days. This is the widest of the three and even today the swell was being magnified through the gap. Perhaps the best thing about these gaps is that they teach observation, timing and above all, patience. In winter the cliffs are quiet but in the Spring and early Summer the racket and smell of thousands of seabirds adds to the special atmosphere.
Around the West Head and into Sandend Bay, I landed at the abandoned croft Redhythe before paddling on to Sandend where I had a break and ate my lunch. The harbour entrance at Sandend is tiny and faces just about north, which means that in the winter the sun will almost always be in your eyes as you approach. Not a problem today, but in the rough conditions prevailing here it can be tricky to judge correctly.
Heading back around to Portsoy I stopped at another small pebble beach. Although the sun was touching this section, a frost had formed below the high water mark. Since low water had just passed, the frost must actually have formed during the morning. It was certainly cold - the roof straps were freezing as I put the boat back on the car at Portsoy.
The 10 kilometres of this short route had taken me over four hours - mainly due to poking around all the little features of the cliffs. All in all a nice winter afternoon!