Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An Iron Age fort, and the strength of spirit of the men and women of Auchmithie...all in a day's paddle.

Once upon a time, Lud Castle, an Iron Age promontory fort sat above the 30 metre vertical sandstone cliffs. It was a sound location, strategically. Today, we landed our sea kayaks, on the neighbouring beach.

The tiny figures of two hikers on the grassy top (image above), give scale to this site, once inhabited by prehistoric Celts. A narrow neck of land, to a current day farmer's field, was the only access to the ancient coastal stronghold.

Today, for us, the deserted beach would offer a place to stretch legs, enjoy a second lunch...and wonder, dreamily, who might have shared a similarly simple meal in this very place, from 700 BC to 500 AD. 

It was another perfect day to be on the water.

Sea birds had watched our passage from waterfront "balconies", eroded and etched into the sandstone - wonderful observation (and nesting) platforms. 400 million years ago, when these rocks were formed, "Scotland" was below the equator and part of a desert belt.

It was a different world, the advent of humankind still a very, very long way away into the future. Heaven and earth would move before that would happen.

It's rare that we ever encounter folks on the water here, except for those passing by in occasional fishing boats.

This glowing red sandstone, cave-infused, marine bird paradise is a bit of a "best kept secret". It's also the closest paddling spot, closest to home, here at Base Camp 2. Admittedly, we need to get out to more places...but its near-at-hand siren call is hard to resist.

Today, we met up with two fellow paddlers, also enjoying a fine day on the North Sea.

We shared some smiles, some good conversation...thankful to be sharing the waters with one another.

And then we were alone again...


A turn to the starboard would take us to Norway. It would be a bit far for today.

Returning to the waters off Auchmithie, where a year ago, dolphins-on-a-mission sped joyfully by us, we allowed the calm and gently rolling waves to massage body, mind, and spirit. 

Back in the ruined harbour, I thought of those strong and brave women of Auchmithie. There was no jetty, and in the pre-dawn hours they carried their men to the little fishing boats. The fishers would begin their long, dangerous, and exhausting day with dry clothes. It would have most surely been a life-saving, albeit backbreaking, labour.

They acknowledged their need for one another. Some today might raise their eyebrows at the image...women carrying their men to work. The pride of the men of Auchmithie, however, never entered the equation. 

That's strength of spirit...on both sides.

The mystery of Iron Age fort, a reminder of our inter-dependence and our need for one another...all in a day's paddle.


  1. Beautiful pictures Duncan! Looks like it was an amazing day on the water! Hopefully I'll soon have a similar experience:)

    1. Thank you, LInda. We can assure you a VERY amazing and memorable day. :) Warm wishes.

  2. What kind of sea birds were they, Duncan?

    1. Hi Beth, not sure which variety of gull - still need to work on recognition. None today, but the delightful puffins are our favourites. :) Warm wishes to you and Andy.