Scotland - the other side^

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Mark R
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Scotland - the other side^

Post by Mark R » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:31 pm

I'm spending the first couple of weeks of my summer holiday trying to 'finish off' Scotland by paddling down the east coast from John O'Groats to the English border - in theory this is achievable, weather allowing as always.

My experience of the east coast is entirely limited to having been to Bass Rock once and having also married a girl from Elgin.

What do I need to know?
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David A
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by David A » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:55 pm

Hi Mark, I don’t know a great deal about the east coast of Scotland, apart from it is meant to be the easy side of Scotland to paddle: as it is all downhill!!!!!

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naefearjustbeer
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by naefearjustbeer » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:44 am

Noss Head just North of Wick can be intesting!

North Head just North of Wick smells of shit. The sewage works are nearby and it quite often makes you want to hurl keep offshore a bit

Paddle through scorries island just south of wick http://www.streetmap.co.uk/idld.srf?X=3 ... Z=120&lm=1 can be fun if the swell is right.

Lots of nice small harbours and stacks and caves along the Caithness East coast. However there will be long stretches where you cannot land.

Coffee shop at Lybster Harbour

Buy Chips in Helmsdale

Dont buy chips in Brora or Golspie.

Chanory Point Fort George area great for Dolphins

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lg18
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by lg18 » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:33 am

To follow on a theme... S of Aberdeen:
buy chips in Stonehaven (all 4 chippers v good), both curry houses good, and Marine Hotel on harbour does excellent real ale and good food.
Buy crab soup in Catterline.
No particular currents/dangers to note.
Be careful of the wildlife around Stonehaven/Catterline, though - we got a direct hit from a puffin last year, and a seal tried to capsize me by clambering onto my lap.

Lucy

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by tommfuller » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:31 pm

In two weeks? Wow, sounds like a long way to me! But then I tend to nose along rather slowly investingating all the nooks and crannies!

There's lots of good bits along the N.E. Coast. You might get a couple of knots of current at springs, but generally that's about it. Plenty wee places to camp, too.

Some REALLY long beaches around Nairn, Findhorn and Lossie, around Fraserburgh, and from Newburgh all the way to Aberdeen. In between some great rocky bits, lots of caves and arches, and LOTS of bird life, especially Troup Head (amazing cliffs) , FowlsHeugh (great caves) and so on. There are quite a lot of RSPB sites along the way.

Cullen to Fraserburgh is all really interesting rocky coast with a couple of beaches. Then beach all the way to Peterhead, then rocky cliffs all the way to Newbugh.

Good fish shop in Whitehills (pronounced whit'lls by the locals), lovely wee harbours in Portsoy, nice campsite and Sandend (Sanine to the locals). Avoid Nigg bay, sewage outlet means it's sometimes nae awfa nice. The Kimberyly Inn in Findhorn is nice.

I am quite jealous! PM me if you fancy meeting up for a short leg or two along the way!

Oh, and have you seen the Undiscovered Scotland website?

Cheers,

Tom.

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by ian johnston » Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:59 pm

Hi Mark,

To follow on from the posts above -

Moray coast - as Tom says, Portsoy is good, a pub and restaurant right on the harbour front; Cullen has a range of amenities and a sandy beach /harbour landing. Sandend (Sanine!) is just fantastic, the smallest harbour you can imagine, sandy bay and a top little campsite (but no shop or pub in the village - shop on campsite). Most of the fishing villages along the Moray coast and south of Aberdeen have harbours to land in - otherwise landing places can be difficult if there's any swell or wind from the north. I'm taking it you've scoped out some of the stretches of coast covered in Pesda's "Scottish Sea Kayaking"?

South of Aberdeen, I echo all Lucy's said. there's a good chipper in Inverbervie too. When you get further south to the Kingdom of Fife, don't miss Anstruther (pronounced Anster by the locals) in the east Neuk. It has the best chipper I've yet encountered, several pubs and they're all 20 metres from a sandy beach inside the harbour wall.

The water is colder on the east coast than the West - noticeably so - as there's no Gulf Stream influence. There's also the risk of a "Haar" - a cold sea mist which can take the temperatures down to single figures Celcius when inland is basking in hot sunshine.

When are you planning to start? I'll be on leave from the end of June. I'll PM you my contact numbers; drop me a line if you need a resupply/ bits n pieces or anything else (I'm about 45 mins from Sandend/Portsoy.)

Enjoy it!

Ian

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Mark R
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by Mark R » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:40 pm

Departing JoG last week of July, in a hurry to cover ground quickly.

Great info so far, many thanks. Keep it coming please!
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SwamP
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by SwamP » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:36 pm

I'm not a sea boater but I have to say I think as we're spoiled with the west coast the beautiful east gets overlooked far too often....

The best has been mentioned IMO (coastline around Findhorn) but the small bays around Dunbar and round to Eyemouth are lovely too..plus the added value is with people nearby, you can always have a surf/play boat loaned to you mid route if you fancied a change of scene of an afternoon.
Lets not try to understand each other. Thanks.

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by james fleming » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:51 pm

I dont normally sea kayak. However, I do know you'll pass at least 2 Range Danger areas. One around Cape Wrath the other at Kirkcudbright firing out towards the Isle of Man.

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SwamP
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by SwamP » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:53 pm

Dude...east coast EAST ;o)
Lets not try to understand each other. Thanks.

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Mark R
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by Mark R » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:06 pm

james fleming wrote:I dont normally sea kayak. However, I do know you'll pass at least 2 Range Danger areas. One around Cape Wrath the other at Kirkcudbright firing out towards the Isle of Man.
Already had the pleasure. Wrath wasn't firing, Luce Bay was firing but wound up for the weekend just after I launched; the only range that actually fired at me was in Cumbria.

http://southwestseakayaking.co.uk/2009/ ... orth-west/
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by soundoftheseagull » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:10 pm

Already had the pleasure. Wrath wasn't firing, Luce Bay was firing but wound up for the weekend just after I launched; the only range that actually fired at me was in Cumbria.

mmmmm and they missed maybe next time :)
Dave

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james fleming
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by james fleming » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:47 pm

Ryan P wrote:Dude...east coast EAST ;o)
Ha ha, oops, just read the post again. Sorry.

That's why I dont Sea Kayak.

Sorry. I'll go back to Inland.

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Jim
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by Jim » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:05 am

Don't really know the East coast very well, even if I do have to go up that way for work sometimes.

It may be worth trying to have a peep up the Cromarty Firth as you cross it (and tick a shipping forecast placename - quite a pretty little town), I think there are a few Rigs in on layover or for refit at the moment.

You may, or may not, become aware of traffic at sea and in the air around Peterhead and Aberdeen, this map will give you an idea why. You might want to reflect on the ancient riverbeds that make it all possible.

For the majority of the coast(roughly Aberdeen to Fife) they have their own language, and if ye dinna ken fit ah mean it may be best to progress quickly and avoid having to stop and talk to the locals...

If you get as far as St Andrews, the only place on the east coast I go to a lot, be warned that I find the whole place somehow smug or fake, or just 'up itself' (saying that will really annoy my friends from there). I would seriously just keep going right past it.

If for some reason you end up not doing the big open crossing of the Forth and end up crossing near Leith you should have my brothers number, but if it's the school holidays he'll probably be on the other coast.

From Bass rock to the border is generally quite pleasant, interesting cliffs, nice beaches, sometimes surf, and quite a few write ups here over the last few years (I don't know if they are collated though). I've paddled bits and seen much of the rest from other beaches or the train - no doubt it's completely different from kayak level.

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by tommfuller » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:54 am

Ryan P wrote:I'm not a sea boater but I have to say I think as we're spoiled with the west coast the beautiful east gets overlooked far too often....
Agreed. I think there are a few factors:

It's not that great for sailing, so that perception gets carried to kayaking.
You aren't in among spectacular mountains
There's not a lot of shelter from rough seas

However, in the right weather it is tremendous. Areas like Troup Head, you'd think you were on Skye or something! And so many lovely wee villages.

Pennan should get a mention, I think the pub there is open again now (the one from "Local Hero") after the village was engulfed by a landslide a few years ago. And Gardenstown (Gamrie) is very pretty, and has a good wee seafood place by the water.

Cheers,

Tom.

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Surf or Die
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by Surf or Die » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:32 pm

I have experiences of elgin girls too.
Andy

Daddy tell me about girls?

Son, one day you will make a girl very happy for a short period of time. Then she'll leave you and be with new men who are ten times better than you could ever hope to be.

These men are called kayakers.

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lg18
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by lg18 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:50 pm

Well I really like St Andrews - 2 wonderful beaches, gorgeous old town, loads of lovely little eateries, fulmars nesting on the cliffs, a great place to stop for a rest (but not for camping and accommodation expensive).

10 miles down the coast Crail (tip of Fife) is one of the prettiest villages and has the most photographed/painted harbour in Scotland. Buy dressed crab and live lobster (wait while they cook it for you!) in a tiny wooden shack on the harbour (as featured on TV Rick Stein!). There's nowhere with convenient sea-side amenities between St A's and Crail. Crail also good hop-off point for Isle of May. Should be able to wild camp just round the corner to the W of the harbour/beach where there is a tiny mini-beach to land on (not apparent on the 1:25000 map), and some green grass and usually remnants of a beach-side fire (out of sight of houses). Noone would choose to camp there as a normal person, as it's on the coastal path with local dog walkers etc, but it's the only place I can think of in the Crail/St A's area that is landable (ie a break in the rocky skerries) and campable for someone on a long distance journey!!! (Cambo Sands at Kingsbarns and beach at Fife Ness have particularly posh golf courses adjoining so no joy there; not sure about the beach between Boarhills and Kingsbarns - quiet enough but the adjoining land might be a field of sprouts!).

For Aberdeenshire I forgot to mention that Collieston (N of Abdn) which has a nice beach/harbour (and looks like a good place to stop from the map) unfortunately has no amenities in terms of pub/cafe/chipper (has a post office) - someone correct me if I'm wrong!

Lucy

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by Owen » Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:49 pm

The Fife coast from St Andrews all the way round to Elie (10 miles west of Crail) offers some fantastic rock hopping. But if your going point to point on a mission then you probably wont want to divert into the Forth.

A couple of years ago we met three lads who were paddling around Britain at Fife Ness. They'd crossed from Arbroath to Fife Ness, then went striaght over to North Berwick; hardly even saw any of the coast.

Around Arbroath and Auchmithie is also great for spending time exploring.

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by tommfuller » Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:15 pm

lg18 wrote:
For Aberdeenshire I forgot to mention that Collieston (N of Abdn) which has a nice beach/harbour (and looks like a good place to stop from the map) unfortunately has no amenities in terms of pub/cafe/chipper (has a post office) - someone correct me if I'm wrong!

Lucy
I think Collieston has a wee shop, certainly used to. There is more (including a good kayaking pub, frequented by NESKY members) in Cruden Bay, and in Newburgh.

Cheers,

Tom.

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Mark R
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by Mark R » Sun Jun 07, 2009 11:41 am

Sounds really interesting - mostly because (unlike the west coast) I am totally unfamiliar with these placesnames, it'll all be new to me.

I now have all of the OS maps, charts etc - nothing can go wrong.
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maryinoxford
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by maryinoxford » Sun Jun 07, 2009 6:19 pm

I was pleased when you said you would go all the way down to the English border. When I read "Blazing Paddles," I remember feeling cheated that Brian stopped short at North Berwick.
Not in Oxford any more...

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Helen M
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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by Helen M » Sun Jun 07, 2009 6:22 pm

Mark R wrote: nothing can go wrong.
Quote out of context! lol

Have fingers crossed for you Mark.

H - x

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by CaileanMac » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:46 pm

Mark,

There's a huge amount of hertiage in the inlets and harbours of Caithness relating to the herring boom and the sea cliffs South of Wick are a sea kayaker's idea of heaven. Helmsdale chipper - 'La Mirage' as already recommended does portions to feed even the hunrgest sea kayaker. Brora to Dornoch section - a tad flat coastline with sandy/shingy beaches - not the most wildly exciting place to paddle along or the most visually scenic either.

Tarbet Ness - pleasant lighthouse. There's a couple of small villages South of it, Rockfield is quite a pleasant spot. Findhorn - there's a good selection of bars and there's the Findhorn Community, a sort of new age / living village by it along with RAF Kinloss - two very different ways of life.

Can't say I known much else about the NE Scotland coastline, however from my college sea cliff climbing days I can imagine parts of Buchan coastline and the coastline South of Aberdeen would be quite nice to paddle along.

Cheers

CaileanMac

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Re: Scotland - the other side^

Post by Cornholio » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:48 am

The area around Hopeman to lossiemouth and Sandend(great campsite) is good on the Moray coast, and some brilliant caves and arches between Boddam(Peterheid) and Cruden Bay. There's an army firing range at Barry Buddon so if you follow the coast past Carnoustie be aware of this and watch for the red flags! The tidal movement around here is pretty fierce even on neaps, and the sandbanks can cause some pretty lively water(big standing waves) with swell and opposing winds etc. If you plan to cut across the estuary best done on slack water at high tide, the sandbanks are huge off of seal point at tentsmuir and at LW are impassible unless you paddle miles out. Crossing at max tide movement flood will mean some serious push up the estuary to Dundee....And vice versa on ebb you'll be fighting it pushing you out to sea....
Maybe that's why so many keep away from it and stay further out to sea? How about cutting past the Bell Rock lighthouse?!
"God tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he's pretty sure you're f****d..."

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Re: Scotland - the other side^

Post by kayaking_matt » Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:55 am

i grew up on the coast near north berwick, and used to spend most of the summer kayaking around the coast in my playboat, and know the stretch from North Longniddery down quite well.

There are lots of interesting caves around by Abby st bathens, which are good fun if there is a bit if swell, as well as a few ship wrecks, to be seen if you keep your eyes peeled.

Also the four islands (Fidra, Lamb, Craigleith, and the Bass), are also worth exploring, and there is a cave that goes through the Bass (and it possible to walk all the way through).

There are also a lot of nice sandy beaches that are good for surfing.

Matt

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Re: Scotland - the other side

Post by tizereyes » Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:34 am

Helen M wrote:
Mark R wrote: nothing can go wrong.
Quote out of context! lol

Have fingers crossed for you Mark.

H - x
A siren that resembles Dr Alice will guide you south (or to your peril; one or t'other)

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Re: Scotland - the other side^

Post by Jim M » Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:41 pm

I'm not much of a sea kayaker either but I've done most of the stretch from Pease bay in Berwickshire to the English border and it's really interesting. St Abbs head in particular is spectacular with huge cliffs and inlets and a massive bird colony in early summer. Some spooky caves around there too. My brother had an hour long encounter with a Minke whale off St abbs but I couldn't go that day. Coldingham bay is a great wee bay but gets busy in good weather. The St Vedas hotel and surf shop is just up the hill from the beach and welcomes kayakers. Eyemouth is a fishing port with a nice harbour and the bit south of there to Burnmouth is good too with high cliffs,caves and arches. You should have a great end to your trip.( Or a great start if you're heading north!)

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Re: Scotland - the other side^

Post by tpage » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:08 am

I had no experience of the NE coast until a couple of weeks ago and didnt really know what to expect- but got very pleasantly surprised.
If conditions permit- try to explore the geos and stacks around Duncansby head- they are awesome- best of all get into Wife geo; its a couple of miles south of Duncansby- We paddled deep into this geo, it then does a right hand turn, then left into a lagoon (all open to the sky)- the another right hand turn will take you into Fast geo and you exit back out to sea- this set of geos and tunnels even surpassed the ones we got into on St. Kilda last summer. The section from Wick to helmsdale is stunning- cliffs and stacks and the highest concentration of seabirds I have ever seen- anywhere. The whole NE section is studded with tiny hidden ports- some in use and some abandoned- these can be useful to get a breather. The section from Tarbat Ness to Inverness is also stunning and probably akin to your own Jurrassic coast in the south. Enjoy, Tony

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Re: Scotland - the other side^

Post by Zoe Newsam » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:53 pm

The north-facing coastline between Spey Bay and Fraserburgh was my first 'proper' (read overnight) sea trip. We went there because the forecast was too bad for the West Coast, and it was absolutely stunning. Big cliffs, lovely villages, beautiful beaches, and (a bit like the North East England coast) basically undiscovered. I'd go back there anytime.
Zoe Newsam
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Mark R
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Re: Scotland - the other side^

Post by Mark R » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:55 pm

More great advice, thanks.

I saw some of the Duncansby geos last year, but not from a kayak as (pretty much for the first time all summer) the strong winds had shifted around to the SW.

I am unlikely to see the section you describe from Tarbat Ness, unfortunately.
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