Thursday, 31 July 2014

Colours and caves - Arbroath to the Deil's Heid

The Angus coast is a stretch which I've walked along but not kayaked.  Joan and Duncan have recently been exploring the caves and bays around Auchmithie and I joined them at Arbroath harbour on a warm sunny morning when we hoped to investigate some more of this coast. 

There's a good place to park and launch immediately south of the Bell Rock signal station and Tourist Information centre in the outer part of Arbroath harbour.  It was around low water Springs when we were preparing to head out and although there was some gloopy mud exposed we were able to avoid it and were soon heading out of the harbour entrance.

 We paddled north across the bay and soon came across the first of the geos as the cliffs start to rise.  The rock of this coastline is Devonian sandstone laid down in alternate arid periods and floods 400 million years ago.  The strata are easily seen, some with fine grained red sand and some of conglomerate containing polished river pebbles. The dominant colour is a really vibrant red shade which we had to great effect as we'd chosen to paddle north during the morning and had the sun behind us

The day we'd chosen was completely calm, and the low tide enabled us to get into just about all of the caves we found.  Some were quite narrow chambers straight into the cliffs.......

.... whilst some had exquisite lighting effects; in this one a tiny sea-level secondary entrance had the sun shining diectly through it to light the water but not the cave.

A well-known feature of the cliffs is the "Needle's E'e", an arch formed by the collapse of a sea cave.  The cave would have been on the original shoreline but is now 7 metres above the sea, the result of the land lifting as the weight of ice from the last Ice Age has been released.

Farther along and the bigger caves start to appear.  This one was definitely better to explore at lower states of tide, when we passed back in the afternoon near to high water it looked difficult and low at the entrance.

This cave had a spotlighting effect from a hole in the roof at the rear of a long geo.

Gradually the cliffs get a little higher on this section, as do the caves themselves and we continued to explore where we could reach, the five kilometres north from Arbroath took us the best part of two hours to paddle - it's a place to savour when conditions are so good!

The collapse of a long cave with a double entrance has formed the geo of Dickmont's Den,  at high water it would be possible to land on a small beach of rounded boulders at the back of the geo.

We emerged from the northern entrance to Dickmont's Den and got our first view of one of the best known landmarks on the Angus Coast - the Deil's Heid (Devil's Head) sea stack.  The promontory adjacent to it looks like it will form a similar feature in the future - we wondered whether people who walk out to the end in order to photograph the stack realise what's below their feet!

The seaward face of the Deil's Heid was climbed in the 1970's when four pegs were placed for protection, but these have now been replaced by steel and resin protection, making a superbly situated and no doubt atmospheric climb. 


  1. The Angus Coast: a veritable treasure trove of geological history, from the trail or the water...and still very much a work in progress! A great day on the water, Ian. Best wishes, Duncan.

  2. Absolutely Duncan, what a place ..... :o)

    Kind regards