Friday, 9 August 2013
Back in the Saddle and through the Bow Fiddle
My last paddle had been in the warmth of Florida. Whilst the Moray Firth can hardly claim to be as warm, it does offer super sea kayaking. On a nice summer day, I headed out from the pretty harbour town of Cullen, heading west along the coast. It was good to be back in the boat and I quickly relaxed into a leisurely pace along the sandy shore to where the rocky coastline re-established itself beyond the beach.
This section of the coast has some superb caves. As a Spring tide was still flooding I left exploration of most of them for the return journey when there would be more water. This one was intruiging as the only means of access to the bouldery beach beyond appears to be through the cave; the cliffs preventing access from the shore.
The geological showpiece on this part of the Moray Firth coast is the Bow Fiddle, a freestanding rock arch near the village and harbour of Portknockie. Approaching from the east, the arch is quite hard to make out against the main rock outcrop .
From either the shore or from seaward however, the Bow Fiddle stands out as a graceful arch forming a flying bridge to the main rock stack. It's said to have a resemblance to the bow used to play a fiddle, hence the name.
The passage through the arch can be either exciting or impossible in bouncy conditions, particularly at the shoreward side where the configuration of cliffs and rocks sets up some really nasty clapotis in an onsore swell. No such problems today though, an easy passage under the 15 metre high roof.
Just around the corner from the Bow fiddle is the harbour of Portknockie, a typical fishing harbour. There are virtually no boats working from here now but in its heyday this place would have been very busy with boats, fish merchants and all the trades associated with the industry of fish curing.
As if in a nod to these bygone times, a glance to seaward picked out this fine traditional sailing boat. I followed this boat west past Portknockie, heading west towards the next village along the coast.