Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Rockhopping and rainstorms, Part 1

In Scotland we don't really have a climate, we have "weather" and July 2016 was particularly changeable with some warm days but also some periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms.  It seemed that most of the warm days were windy and that the calmer spells coincided with days of showers or rain.  The conditions didn't dampen some good sea kayaking though, and in some ways the heavier rain actually added to the experience!  This is the first of two posts catching up on a number of sea kayak trips around the Moray Firth and North Sea coasts during the month.

It wasn't all rain; Maurice, Mike and I met at Auchmithie and enjoyed a day on the colourful Angus coast.  The morning was calm and warm, which allowed us to explore the rock formations......

......and caves which stud the stretch of coast between Auchmithie and Arbroath.  The largest of them is Gaylet Pot, a long cave which emerges some 150 metres inland.......

....in a spectacular "gloup" or collapsed cave in the middle of a farm field.

That afternoon brought a marked increase in the wind, as forecast, and we enjoyed an exhilarating blast back up the coast under sail at an average speed of 12km/h.

Pulling out of the wind at the arched outcrop of Prail Castle, we stopped for second luncheon.  It's sometimes possible to kayak through the arch, but on this occasion the tide was too low.  As Maurice hadn't visited this feature previously, he and I walked through the arch to the north side.  Just a few seconds after we'd done so a large rock fell clear from the face above and smashed into the ground right behind us - a lucky escape.

There have been several paddles on the Moray Firth too; on a day of alternating hot sunshine and torrential downpours Lorna, Allan and I paddled a favourite section of the Moray Firth coast from Findochty to Sandend.  One of the best known features is the Bow Fiddle Rock, and we were lucky to find it not only calm enough to paddle.....

......but looking very fine backed by an approaching downpour.

The northeast coast in summer just teems with wildlife.  The seabirds seem to have had a pretty successful breeding season and we encountered them in their tens of thousands.

On a paddle from Sandend to Whitehills Allan, Lorna and I were given a real wildlife treat when a pod of the Moray Firth dolphins shared the water with us, I completely fluffed the photographs of three adults which raced straight to our boats and dived right in front of us, examining the boats closely from below before moving on - the only image I managed was this dolphin which repeatedly leapt out of the water in the middle distance.


  1. Great photos Ian. I've walked that Arbroath stretch of coastline a few times now and it has some fantastic cliff scenery but it must be at its best exploring from the sea

  2. Thanks Bob, the Angus coast is a real gem, and relatively unknown to most sea kayakers, which is a pity as it has loads to offer

    Kind Regards