Saturday, July 12, 2014

From the light sands of the Sound of Arisaig to the "dark" side of the North Sea cliffs...

Site of an Iron Age promontory fort.
A couple of weeks ago, we experienced the white sands and remarkable vistas of the Sound of Arisaig while paddling on Scotland's west coast. It instantly became a new "favourite" place! Auchmithie is an old favourite place, just half an hour from home. About three miles up the North Sea coast from Arbroath, this tiny village sits high atop the 400 million-year-old red sandstone and conglomerate cliffs. It's the birthplace of the famous hot-smoked haddock - now known all around the world as the "Arbroath smokie", a name so treasured that it is protected by law.

This former fishing village also has the remnant of a protected harbour. Although in ruins, it's a good place from which to launch a sea kayak - but only if the conditions are right. We'd tried several days previously but the forecast "calm" winds had kicked up. The building waves and considerable swell suggested that finding a café for a scone (with butter and jam) and a coffee seemed to be a responsible Plan B. We could at least look out the window and admire the boats in their roof cradles - and wonder in anticipation of the next time. :)

This week, the forecast winds and sea state promised a perfect day. Arriving at Auchmithie, just after high tide, the water was nicely rippled with a only a slight swell. It was a "go". From this launch spot, it's possible to explore the base of the dramatic cliffs that meet the sea and the many seabird colonies that are only visible from the sea.

Paddling into the sun, the red sandstone appeared dark and often featureless, in deep contrast to the clear sky. It was impossible to even begin to imagine the ancient processes that had created and formed such natural beauty. Here's a small taste of the "dark" side...

Paddling out from the "Deil's Heid".
Narrow channels begged exploration...
...and provided countless photo ops.
Nature's timeless sculptures.
Rising and falling on the gentle swell.
Last "land"...for a very long way.
So enthralled by the perfect paddling conditions in yet another remarkable place, we took far too few photos. We will simply have to get back here again, and soon. The "dark" side of the cliffs thrilled and en"light"ened.

And little did we know, a wonderfully delightful surprise was about to "surface", all around us...


  1. This is great Duncan! There are of course those who will claim that all east coast paddling is "the dark side"........ :-)

    Kind regards

  2. Haha! That's probably true enough, Ian. But it's kind of nice to have a paddle in both "camps" isn't it. :) Warm wishes to you both. Duncan.

  3. I know how much you would have enjoyed checking out all those little passages and rocks but just because you were paddling along the cliffs doesn't mean you should end the blog with a cliffhanger! Think of your readers. Lol. Can't wait for episode two :)

  4. Ah, it's just a "literary tease", L, with the hope that you'll come back! :) Warm wishes. D.

  5. Great to see you guys back on the brine!

  6. Hi Lee, thanks for that. It's so good to be back on the water...and with a choice of both an ocean and a sea! :) Best wishes. Duncan.