Monday, 4 August 2014

Colours and caves - an Angus cruise

After lunch at Auchmithie we did some calculations and decided that we'd not have time to complete our original intention of paddling up to Lunan Bay before returning to Arbroath. The interest and quality of the coast we'd travelled along is such that any journey here in good conditions will take much longer than anticipated - and this is a good thing!

We settled on going a few kilometres further north to Prail Castle before turning back which would give us an unhurried return leg.

The bold headland of Prail Castle is another fort site; in fact there are no fewer than five fort sites to explore between Arbroath and the headland forming the south end of Lunan Bay, a remarkable concentration.

For sea kayakers there's additional interest too. The headland is pierced by two through-caves, both of which can be paddled at higher states of the tide.  Another cave?!   Oh, go on then.......  :o)

As we made our way through the larger of the two arches, we realised that we weren't alone - there was plenty of activity on the pebble beach beyond.

A flock of what appeared to be Soay sheep were feeding and resting on the shore.  They moved off in a purposeful manner as we approached, rising as one and walking steadily rather than running. It's intriguing to speculate whether the inhabitants of the various forts might have kept sheep of a very similar type here thousands of years ago.

The headland of Prail Castle curves slightly nortwards from the shore and in winter must receive very little sunlight.  On this bright and sunny summer day the quality of light in the cool shadow was quite beautiful - aquamarine water and deep red rock made a striking combination.

The through-caves wouldn't be at all obvious if approaching from the north, passing through the smaller cave looks like a bit of a vanishing trick from this direction.  Prail Castle was a great turning point for our day's paddle; it would have been difficult to top.  We now had the run back to Arbroath in warm sunshine and calm sea to enjoy....

There's a perception that the North Sea is predominantly grey and a bit uninteresting, but this couldn't be further from the truth.  Our boats slid through brilliantly clear water and over the most beautifully coloured pebbles........

....and yes, this really is the North Sea!  We all commented on what an effortless paddle the return journey was.  We stopped to investigate a couple of the caves we'd not seen on the way out as we enjoyed the cruise back to Arbroath.....

....along this wonderfully coloured coastline..... complete a great day on the water under the Bell Rock Signal Tower which until 1955 was the shore infrastructure for the Bell Rock lighthouse, and is now a museum.

The Angus coast is a real unsung gem.  I'm really grateful to Duncan and Joan for highlighting the superb sea kayaking available here.  Also, now that the Pesda Press guide to the North and East coasts of Scotland has been published (this section is included) more paddlers will discover the secret!


  1. The North Sea can certainly be stormy, grey and inhospitable...but when the "gem" is polished by fine weather and sea state, it's stunning! The secret's out! :) Warm wishes, Ian. Duncan.

  2. Hi Duncan, the secret should be out too; as you say, a stunner :o)

    Kind regards