Sunday, 28 May 2017

Heat and light - here comes summer...

The last week has seen some superb early summer weather across the British Isles. A southerly airflow brought warm air and temperatures soared.  The southern shore of the Moray Firth fared particularly well; in southerly winds it has a unique micro climate and for a few days it was the hottest part of Britain with temperatures approaching 30 degrees Celsius.

Lorna, Allan and I decided on a paddle from Hopeman to take advantage of the beautiful weather, setting out from the harbour heading eastwards.  Bright sunshine and a very calm sea combined in a dazzling quality of light which reached deep below the surface.

This part of the coast is composed largely of a sandstone named for Hopeman itself - the Hopeman Sandstone Formation.  A yellowish aeolian sandstone of varying hardness, some of the beds were deposited by sheet floods and are of early Triassic age.  Fossils are found in the beds, including dinosaur footprints.  One quality of the sandstone is that it's brightly coloured and breaks down to give sandy bays......

...another quality is that it's less tough than some rock types, so caves are quite common here.

We threaded in and out of cool caves and paddled through arches spanning clear green pools to emerge into arclight sunshine.

The rock formations aren't as high or as dramatic as other parts of the coast but give some superb sea kayaking in calm conditions.

One particularly large cave had a long side-chamber which led to......

....a tiny exit with outward flaring sides.  The quality of light here was absolutely jewel-like and we sat, entranced for some time.  Having watched through several minutes, we felt that the exit was just too low to attempt a passage to the outside.  It was near high water and we resolved to take another look on the return leg.

Several incut bays folowed as we headed east - I've paddled this coast several times and always find it an engaging and interesting place to explore.  In any kind of swell it's a bit of a different place though.....

The creeler "Calypso" lost power whilst lifting pots off the coast during the evening of 30th April and drifted onto the rocks.  The owner/skipper managed to get off unhurt but "Calypso" has begun to break up after just a couple of weeks exposed to the swell.

We took a quick leg stretch on one of the pebble beaches......

...before heading further along the coast and past the two-legged stack which always looks remarkably precarious!

Luncheon was taken on a beach of golden sand backed by dunes near Covesea lighthouse, relaxing in the sunshine and with a pleasant onshore breeze which had started up in the heat of the afternoon.

After lunch we headed back with the breeze on our backs, past the Sculptor's Cave which contains Pictish carvings.

We wanted to check out the entrance to the cave we'd explored previously and found that the falling tide had made the access easy but very shallow and we were just about able to paddle through into the main cave......

...and so back out into the brilliant sunlight of a hot afternoon - hopefully the start of summer!


  1. What a beautiful coast to paddle along...the images are just amazing. I'm sure one could just explore for hours, there's just so much to see!

    1. It really is a great section of the coast for relaxed exploration Linda, and very photogenic in good light :o)

  2. Stunning photos and colours in the water. Best place to be at 30c as it was roasting and windless inland at times.

    1. Thanks Bob....for once in Scotland we were actually glad of a cooling breeze!


  3. Ian, what a start to summer! Wow! The scenery is simply stunning. I know, what else is new? :) Summer seemed to begin here when we were paddling on the weekend, first time out of drysuits with temps in the mid-twenties. We plan on being on the water tomorrow, but it's cooler, so it'll back in the Kokatats! Warm wishes to you and Linda from us both.

    1. The temeperature is back to more normal levels here now Duncan, but it's still been a fairly warm and dry Spring here in the north east

      Best wishes to you both!