Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...^

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Mark R
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Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...^

Post by Mark R » Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:57 am

http://southwestseakayaking.co.uk/2009/ ... orth-tyne/

I'll be using this thread to keep track of my progress through the summer hols ...

Cheers,
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:36 pm

This post is being made solely as a form of packing work avoidance.
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:19 pm

Hi all ... currently camped near Fraserburgh - glorious sunny day but screaming winds keeping me ashore this morning. Really enjoying the east coast - amazed by the cliff scenery and birdlife, which when at its best (rather surprisingly) beats the west coast hands down. Meeting puffins every day, practically every hour! I'm also finding the east coast fishing villages and harbours really interesting.

Making slow, sporadic and patchy progress though, I haven't had anything more than little brief splotches of high pressure since I started, weather has been almost continually unsettled. Loads of rain (every day so far) but the real problem has been wind. Hence, I don't think I'll get to England in the time I have left.

Day 1 - dropped off near John O'Groats by PC CMcC, my thanks to him - in the evening, paddled around Duncansby Head and south to Keiss harbour, where headwinds forced a stop. Quite impressed by 'Wife Geo' along this stretch, a vast interconnected series of tunnels and geos.

Day 2 - Paddled to Wick and dozed there, before heading south again. Weather and seas deteriorated fast and I was glad to make it to an early stop at Sarclet Haven, an interesting abandoned fish processing plant???

Day 3 - A wet and rocky launch through the surf saw me paddling along the best coastal cliffs I've seen in the UK so far; endless arches, geos, tunnels and almost continuous bird colonies. The previous nights' storm meant that numerous hefty waterfalls were plunging into the sea, quite a sight. I didn't want to get in close on this day, though! I finished at Berriedale, an abandoned fishing hamlet; sticking the tent up infront of a row of empty cottages was a weird experience.

Day 4 - The scenery remained pleasant but 'wore off' slightly as I headed south to Brora. At Brora I headed out across the Dornoch Firth to the isolated headland of Tarbat Ness. This should have been straightforward, but I got rained on beyond belief and the tides really made me fight to gain the last couple of miles to the lighthouse, just what I needed at the end of a long day.

Day 5 - I loaded up for the c15 mile open crossing of the Moray Firth; however once I was ready to go, the offshore wind had cranked right up and I was faced with one of those gut-wrenching could/should dilemmas that are a persistent feature of solo trips (I probably could survive a 15 mile ubersurf, but common sense said that I shouldn't try). I decided to be sensible and sat the day out. The good news was that Tarbat Ness is a great place; just a lighthouse at the edge of the land, and nothing else. I met an old fisherman who regaled me for hours with tales of hundreds of boats in Wick harbour etc.

Day 6 - Oh joy, a 4am wakeup to cross the Firth before the winds built up again. The crossing went well, and I landed at Hopeman where I dozed all day (I saw a group of sea paddlers head out east, was that you?). In the evening I put my head down and clocked a few miles east to the mouth of the River Spey. The last two hours were a nightmare, as a crazy headwind sprang up and I refused to cut the trip short. Painful. The Spey was chucking out lots of water (my first freshwater surf/ferryglide in a sea kayak!) and there was a dolphin sharing the spot with me.

Day 7 - Stiff headwind all day up to F7, I didn't launch. Nice spot though. Did some boats repairs and other dull jobs.

Day 8 - I headed a few miles to Buckie - this town has nothing to commend it, but I was able to pick up a few bits I needed. Then (after dozing on the beach, out in the rain) I did a long spurt east to the village of Gardenstown, a rather pretty fishing community clinging to a steep cliff. The coastal scenery kept improving all the way, and I arrived in time for a perfect sunset.

Day 9 - Yesterday. More bloody wind, but I forced a tiring passage about 12 miles to my present location. I was surprised to find that this coast has some really spectacular cliffs (quite unique formations, impossible to describe without seeing) and bird colonies, including the biggest gannet colony I've seen apart from Bass Rock. Much of this was wasted on me, as I was clinging onto my paddles in scary headwinds and downdraughts at the base of the cliffs. As a rule of thumb, I know it's too windy when my paddle blades are singing!

Well, that's it so far. All I request is a nice settled period of high pressure - lasting say, 4-5 days - and I can put my head down and wrap this thing up. Sadly, I don't think thats very likely, based on the weather I'm seeing so far.

Toodle pip,
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Surf or Die » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:27 pm

That could have been our club boys and girls going out from hopeman, was it tuesday evening?

Dicked my longboard nose surfing the mouth of the spey in 2 ft of water.

The gannet colony sounds like troupehead.

Buckie is a poohole to be sure....IMO.
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by tommfuller » Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:00 pm

Troup head is, I think, the UKs only mainland gannet colony. Seems a bit out of place doesn't it?

Anyone interested in the much under-rated east coast should have a listen to this: http://homepage.mac.com/simon.willis/Po ... erdeen.mp3

Cheers,

Tom.

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by hangtimefive7 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:09 pm

You just paddled past my house in Fraserburgh!! Nice night now the wind dropped.

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by TechnoEngineer » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:24 pm

Mark R wrote:Quite impressed by 'Wife Geo' along this stretch, a vast interconnected series of tunnels and geos.
Looks good:
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/887848
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by noops 160 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:40 pm

Typical East coast weather. Great to hear how your going

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Bruxy » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:24 pm

Mark R wrote:I saw a group of sea paddlers head out east, was that you?
I suspect it may have been us you saw if was Saturday morning...one red, one yellow and one white Avocet and a white Explorer.
Four of us decided to take advantage of the glorious conditions and check out the skerries near the lighthouse as we'd not been there before. Very pleasant coastline and absolutely thick with moon jellies at one point - it reminded me of school tapioca puddings!
Were you on the water or still in Hopeman around 4ish? We saw a lone paddler (moving fairly briskly!) heading eastwards some way out as we were returning to the harbour.

Enjoy the rest of the east coast.

Cheers
Chris

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:52 pm

tommfuller wrote:Troup head is, I think, the UKs only mainland gannet colony. Seems a bit out of place doesn't it?
Flamborough Head?
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:08 pm

Now having a few hours' rest at Bervie Bay - looks like I might be about to complete two full successive days of paddling, for the first time on this trip. Then tomorrow the weather turns crap again ...

Day 10 - Fraserburgh to Rattray Head. The wind dropped in the evening, so I banged out a few miles around the 'corner' of NE Scotland. I had hoped to carry on into the night for a few hours past Rattray lighthouse, but the tide was strongly against me when I arrived (it shouldn't have been, but it was) so I indulged in my least favourite pastime, camping in sand dunes.

Day 11 - My tent was being held up by my kayak and a discarded car seat - although the wind was pretty strong, I had to get away from the dunes! I had an uncomfortable 'lively' surf down to and past Peterhead, where I called it a day at a bay that was quite attractive, despite being located between a power station and HM Prison.

Day 12 - Peterhead to Collieston, frustratingly my fifth 'short' day in a row. Some attractive granite cliffs, not unlike Land's End/ Lundy! The weather closed in and I stopped at a tiny bay on a rather attractive NNR south of Collieston.

Day 13 - Mad weather - I woke up to a beach covered with foam spume, and the waves were breaking over Collieston harbour wall. I went to the event of the year instead, the village gala (held despite screaming rain and wind).

Day 14 - Wind had dropped enough to launch by the afternoon. A long slog against the tide along dull dunes past Aberdeen, then the scenery picked up a fair bit. Landed 10 pm at Newtownhill, where I was unable to call the CG as someone had vandalised (and then vomited over) the public phone.

Day 15 - A rare calm morning today, paddled a few hours south to Inverbervie. Hopefully do another few hours with the tide tonight, but ... there is no way now that I'll make England before Friday, my finish date.
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:10 pm

Bruxy wrote:Were you on the water or still in Hopeman around 4ish? We saw a lone paddler (moving fairly briskly!) heading eastwards some way out as we were returning to the harbour.
Sorry to be antisocial - I spotted you all on my way off, but as you note you were some distance inshore.

When you launched in the morning, I was sleeping off my mornings' crossing in the grass, right beside where you parked ... did you spot a snoring tramp with The Times over his head?
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:13 pm

Heather, if you're reading this ... check your email, I''m having the usual phone charging hassles.
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by tommfuller » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:38 pm

Mark R wrote:
tommfuller wrote:Troup head is, I think, the UKs only mainland gannet colony. Seems a bit out of place doesn't it?
Flamborough Head?
Quite right, I meant Scotland.

Cheers,

Tom

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:44 pm

Mark R wrote:looks like I might be about to complete two full successive days of paddling ... Hopefully do another few hours with the tide tonight.
Pah. Got back to the boat to find strong onshore winds and 5 foot of chop. Tried to set off again but it was pretty silly so I turned back and stuck the tent up in Bervie Bay.

I think I've managed a grand total of 4 'full' days of paddling so far.
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:28 pm

Mark>
I think I've managed a grand total of 4 'full' days of paddling so far.
What PISH weather but what a distance to cover in spite of it! Strangely, my knee is not bothering me so much now as it did in that nice weather at the end of June!

Douglas

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:16 pm

Douglas Wilcox wrote:What PISH weather but what a distance to cover in spite of it!
Hmm, certainly doesn't feel that way.

With smooth seas and light wind, I find it fairly easy to paddle 25+ miles a day - simply requires six hours on the water at a steady relaxed pace, with drink/choccy breaks every 30 mins! I can manage more (and occasionally do) but it's largely counter-productive as then I'll be shattered the next day.

This trip has seen me repeatedly doing just 10-15 miles a day before quitting due to a change/deterioration in the weather - a lot of frustrating days! What has been particularly galling is that most of the time, the weather hasn't been outrageous - just a little too crappy to make progress. Hence, you spend quite a lot of time beating yourself up, feeling that you're just being a wimp and that conditions are actually 'okay to go' (I put this insecurity to the test yesterday evening, and lasted 15 mins before turning back).

As you can probably guess from this downbeat post, I'm still in Bervie. Might escape this evening. Or not.
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Jim » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:44 pm

Mark R wrote:
Douglas Wilcox wrote: This trip has seen me repeatedly doing just 10-15 miles a day
My worst trip ever saw us cover about (probably just less than) 20 miles in a week.
Still, chin up, you claimed not to get depressed waiting for weather, lets hope this awful mid-summer doesn't break your resolve!
(And yes, the weather has been mostly pish on the west too)

It could be worse, you could be at work.

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by tpage » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:52 pm

Mark,
Sorry to hear that you've hit a bad spell of weather- but it is a fairly normal pattern for July/August in Scotland. The Glasgow Fair fortnight (the last 2 weeks in July, and the main Glasgow summer holiday) is infamous for wind and rain. I guess you have hit the main problem of paddling solo- not having someone to bounce you're thoughts off regarding whether to stay or go. Glad to hear that you got into wife geo- its a cracker eh? Best of luck with the rest of the trip- the forecast looks good for the weekend. Tony

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by jcox » Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:25 pm

Mark R wrote: This trip has seen me repeatedly doing just 10-15 miles a day before quitting due to a change/deterioration in the weather - a lot of frustrating days! What has been particularly galling is that most of the time, the weather hasn't been outrageous - just a little too crappy to make progress.
Mark, compare and contrast your bad days on the water with my good days at the office this week, then I think you'll quickly decide which you prefer and you'll smile inwardly.

OTOH when I am in Ireland next week and trapped ashore by high winds and unable to surf, you can bet your boots I'll be moaning too!
Well the forecast said it would be good.

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by jamesl2play » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:02 pm

Mark R wrote:, feeling that you're just being a wimp
You do not come across as being a wimp Mark. Keep your head up this crappy weather will change soon and then you will be off again.

I have The VAT man and the Tax man coming for a 'routine' visit Thursday, I know where I would rather be.

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Cat Parker » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:34 pm

Hello Mark,

How's it been going the last couple of days? Has the weather improved enough for you to set off again and paddle out of Bervie?

Anyway, I hope the weather stays on your side and you manage to paddle a few more miles before Friday!

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:50 pm

Finally finished my east Scotland trip at Berwick ... only it was the wrong Berwick - North Berwick, c30 miles short of the border! Now in wonderful Orkney with my wife.

Apologies for the guff below, it just helps me to write it down as otherwise I'll forget where/when I went.

Day 16 - Sitting around Bervie, watching surfers.

Day 17 - Bervie to Johnshaven. Launched into nasty headwinds and chop, managed a spectacular 2km before dashing into the tiny harbour of Gourdon. In the evening, I made it another 8km before bailing into the similarly tiny harbour entrance of Johnshaven.

Day 18 - Johnshaven to Ethiehaven. This started well with a crossing of Montrose Bay. However headwinds popped up quickly (again) and I pretty well crawled to the lighthouse at Scurdie Ness, ready to give up and sell all my gear. The good news is that the chap who lived there gave me tea and lunch. In the evening I set out again, a fairly lousy thrash across Lunan Bay. However ... in mid-bay, I found myself in the midst of several dozen dolphins, seemingly spread over a wide area all doing their own thing. I later learned that they're pretty much a permanent fixture thereabouts. I also landed at Ethiehaven, a tiny village in which all the cottages surprisingly turned out to be owned by a large extended group of friends/family, most of whom are paddlers. They gave me a bed for the night, and fed me lots of fresh food. Thanks all!

Day 19 - Ethiehaven to Fife Ness. Before departing I had to eat the largest bowl of porridge I've ever seen. Anyway, at last a good day of weather. I made a 25 mile crossing to Fife Ness (so have no idea what Arbroath, the Tay or St Andrews look like) and then carried on to Crail, a small harbour nearby.

Day 20 - Fife Ness to North Berwick. My wife was delayed in coming to meet me, so early in the morning I crossed the Firth of Forth to North Berwick, which seems to me to be a fairly logical place to wind up the trip - about 100 miles short of where I thought I'd wind it up, but I guess that the rest of Britain's east coast isn't going away anywhere soon ...
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Jim » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:35 pm

Well you finished with a couple of stylish crossings!

Jim

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Enray » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:30 am

Sounds like you had a great adventure Mark! I am impressed with what you managed to achieve given the conditions you faced. Your trip has inspired me to make an effort to get over to the east coast and explore!

Thanks,

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:45 pm

Did some measuring and the final total mileage down the east coast came to about 280 - not great given that I had 2.5 weeks to work with!

However, sifting through pics has been a nice reminder that it's a really interesting coast, with plenty of variation and lots of surprises waiting to be found.

How many locations can you identify, then? Wezzit????

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:41 pm

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by naefearjustbeer » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:48 am

More than one of the Haven at Sarclet if I am not mistaken along with one of the fishing cottages (Bothies?) at Berriedale. Which I think they are currently trying to raise money to renovate into holiday cottages.The high waterfall I think is near Latheron, One of the Old Man.

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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by Mark R » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:54 am

naefearjustbeer wrote:One of the Old Man.
If you mean the Old Man of Hoy, no ... all pics are the east coast.

All your other guesses are correct - Berriedale was weird, the cottages are abandoned and crumbling, but their lawns were mowed neatly.
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Re: Fair Isle, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne ...

Post by lg18 » Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:21 am

Superb pics!
I think I recognise the red and white striped lighthouse at Boddam, and the white offshore light at Rattray Head. And a double-arch between Boddam and Cruden Bay...?
Looks like some rather stormy weather too!
Lucy

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