Friday, 2 September 2016

High summer and high water - an afternoon on the Moray Firth

The last couple of days of August brought warm days and light winds to the north east of Scotland with very pleasant temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius. I decided on a leisurely afternoon paddle on the Moray firth from Findochty to Sandend to enjoy what might well be the last day of "high summer", and one of the few days when air and sea temperatures plus calm conditions gave a chance to kayak in  a T-shirt and shorts in these northern waters. Launching at an hour before high water also gave the best timing to make the most of the rockhopping opportunities hereabouts.

The seabirds have almost all finished nesting and the coast is beginning to be a quieter place; they may be mostly gone but the favoured perching rocks are pretty obvious!

Passing Portknockie, a shark fin outcrop marks the point where, at higher states of the tide, a channel heads between dark walls of rock to emerge......

...behind the iconic arch of the Bow Fiddle Rock.

I've been able to paddle under the graceful span of this rock formation several times over the summer; conditions here are so often too rough with swell and confused water, I take any opportunity to kayak through....... both directions on this afternoon.

A short way from the Bow Fiddle is a tunnel-cave known locally as The Whale's Mou' (Mouth), a long slash through the rock formed in a similar way to the Bow Fiddle itself.  The roof lowers towards the inland side and half way in there's a "window" hole which lets light in.  At high water it's possible to paddle through to a hidden pool and then round the back of the cave and into Cullen Bay - but in any swell this will be a risky undertaking with waves amplifying through the cave and breaking into the rock-studded pool.

No such difficulties on this day of complete calm though, the pool was a place of cool, green stillness.

Back out in the open water of Cullen Bay, the wildlife watching boat "Gemini Explorer" passed by on one of her regular trips from Buckie.  A former Clyde class lifeboat, "Gemini Explorer" carries up to 12 passengers, and those onboard on this beautiful afternoon had certainly chosen a good day to be out on the Moray Firth.

Hopefully the passengers got good views of these guys......  The thrill of sighting the dorsal fins of some of the Moray Firth's Bottlenose Dolphins arrowing towards you whilst sea kayaking never, ever pales.

A close pass, near enough to clearly hear the exhaled breath and vocalisations of three Dolphins......

....a final circuit of my boat, then with a tail-slap signal from the lead animal they headed off.  It was a real highlight of a high summer day


  1. We have such great memories of that paddle to the Bow Fiddle Ian, when Linda from VI was with us - you guided an amazing day! Great pics of the Dolphins! Warm wishes.

  2. Thanks Duncan - that was a really enjoyable "blue sky" day! This time I remembered to pull out the camera to try and photograph the dolphins, mostly I'm too busy enjoying their close passes until it's too late!

    Warm wishes to you both

  3. Lucky you Ian with those dolphins so close. I said it before but you guys sure are having a nice "seascape" to play in.

  4. Takk Rolf - we really are lucky in the variety and richness of the coast around Scotland.... you should come here and paddle with us?!

    Kind Regards

  5. Looks a great trip. Quite fancy a go at climbing up the leg of Bow Fiddle Rock as it doesn't look hard just enjoyable. Wish I could drag it down nearer here into the Clyde with a tug, like that unfortunate oil rig.

  6. :o) We're keeping it up here in the north east Bob!