Saturday, 10 February 2018

Low sun and low swell - winter rockhopping on the Moray Firth

 The first weekend of February brought a brief period of calm weather, so Lorna, Allan and I took advantage by planning a paddle at one of our favourite local spots.  Launching from Sandend on a bright but cold afternoon, we headed west towards Cullen.  The plan was just to enjoy some time on the water and to get in among the rock features of this great stretch of coast.

 We struggled to see landward in the low winter sunshine - but certainly weren't complaining about a sunny February afternoon!

 Closer in we were in the shade; the sun streaming over the top of the cliffs creating some great halo effects.  These north facing outcrops see no sunlight through the winter months and can be very cold places. Despite this, the seabirds are beginning to arrive back for their breeding season.  Gulls were loafing around the skerries, as were Shags - while Fulmars already seem to be occupying territories and threatening all intruders.

 This cave-arch is a hidden gem - we seek it out each time we kayak here.  In the summer it gets the most wonderful lighting - in the winter the atmosphere is a little darker.

 The afternoon sun picked out the ruin of Findlater Castle really well, the calm conditions allowing us to rest a while in the bay below.

 The swell was low, but quite long period and with considerable energy, at times giving sporting passage through narrow gaps - lots of fun!

After a break for coffee and sandwiches on a small beach in Cullen Bay, we headed back towards Sandend with the evening sun on our backs.  The breeze dropped along with some of the swell - a relaxed end to an afternoon of winter rockhopping.


  1. Nice stretch of coastline. Preparing for nesting?! Spring seems to get earlier every year. When it's sunny and sheltered in places it feels like April at times with catkins and yellow gorse already out.

    1. You're right Bob, it does seem early but sometimes seabirds arrive back on the cliffs for a short while then leave again before returning to nest...maybe that's what's happening

  2. Looks wonderful, Ian...we've great memories of that paddle. Glad you had that "window" to be on the water. Still waiting for one here on Skye! Warm wishes.

    1. It's a great stretch of coast as you know D & J!