Monday, 14 May 2012


Continuing my paddle eastward along the Moray Firth coast, a line of three caves above the shore marks the start of Clashach Cove.  Also along this stretch  is the Sculptor's Cave which has a record of occupation from the Bronze Age to the 19th century.  It is best known for the Pictish carvings which adorn the walls, and also due to the fact that the remains of severed children's skulls were found buried near the entrance and date from the Bronze Age.

The seabirds are returning to the cliffs here; Kittiwakes are already on their nests and the others will soon follow.  Already the clamour and smell of the colonies are beginning to dominate the cliffs.

Whilst passing Clashach Quarry (where early reptile footprints have been fossilised in the sandstone), I could see a periodic eruption of spray from the shoreline.  From closer in the source of the commotion could be seen.

A shelf of rock with a slightly overhanging face in the corner of the cove is normally above the tide line.  The high Spring tide had put the shelf's outer face in the firing line of the swell and a small group of people with cameras were gathered on the shore to watch the fun.  I manoeuvred into a position where I could be safe but quite close......

Showtime!  The larger sets of swells were erupting against the face with impressive force

Spray was being hurled up well over 10 metres into the air and the concussion from each of the big swells  could be felt through the hull of the boat.

The bigger sets of waves were arriving every few minutes and I watched through three or four sets.  The last one included a monster, hitting the shelf with a hollow boom and scattering the folks on the shore as it crashed over the shelf.

The paddle from Clashach Cove to Hopeman was altogether less dramatic, and soon I was landing on the beach inside the harbour which was giving shelter from both wind and waves


  1. Remarkable! I have a bit of a cave fetish! Thanks for the link to the drawlings. absolutely mindblowing.

  2. Hi Lee, the northeast of Scotland is rich in Pictish carvings on stones and so on. We have no idea what their language or beliefs were, or of the meanings of the regular symbols (fish, mirror, Z-rod etc). All we are left with are enigmatic and beautiful carvings

    Kind regards

  3. Thanks for that post Ian. Always good seeing pictures of that bit of the coast. Having spent 21 years being brought up in Hopeman and playing around the coast there I waited until I had left to start kayaking. Need to haul a boat up next time I'm visiting family :)

    I've a picture of the remains of the old Clashach Quarry harbour somewhere I need to dig out, think the foundations are still visible near the scar of waste from the quarry.

    Tide allowing I would recommend a hike/scramble along the base of the cliffs there, lots of hidden caves and interesting stuff to be found!


  4. Hi John,

    Thanks for the information - I'llcheck out the quarry next time I'm passing; it looks as if the tipping of spoil has continued until recently as some of it looks quite "clean".

    It's a really good and interesting stretch of coast, let me know when you bring a boat up!

    Kind Regards