The conglomerate rock arch we passed through is a portal to a very special stretch of coastline. A wall of red rock capped with verdant green and carved into spires, battlements and stacks, it's like nowhere else on the Moray Firth. This area between Strahangles Point and Pennan Head never fails to amaze.
The scale only becomes apparent as you paddle close inshore. These cliffs are over 120m/400ft high and fall sheer to a glacis of the most brilliant green grass overlaying fallen pieces of the cliffs.
There are gaps between stacks of fantastical shape, haunted by seabirds. Each time we've paddled here we've felt ourselves to be in a privileged place......
....in a landscape that could have been taken straight from a Tolkien book.
On a day of windless calm with the sea a mirror of the cliffs, we paddled into the shade of the north facing cliffs in silence, lost in our own appreciation of this place of soaring red towers.
Our kayaks were dwarfed by the scale of the rock architecture. Sure, there are bigger cliffs and higher stacks but few places I've paddled have quite the same atmosphere as this double cirque of stone.
We'd entered the place through one arch, and we would leave by another arch, a long cave-arch passable above half tide and in calm conditions. The entrance is guarded by submerged rocks and needs care.
The arch leads out to a line of cliffs which anywhere else wold be a highlight of a paddling route. Here; thoughts almost immediately turn to paddling back through the red towers.