Monday, 17 November 2014

Kayak trip Helmsdale to Lybster

With the days now being so short and dark it's the perfect opportunity for me to catch up with my kayak logbook here. This summer which was packed with so many amazing trips has passed so quickly and it would be a shame not to show you how beautiful Scotland really is!

One of these trips was made in a weekend in July with two friends from Nesky kayak club. We chose to paddle from Helmsdale to Lybster to explore the fascinating remote and exposed coastline here.

The North East of Scotland, source; Google

On Friday night be set up our camp just South of Helmsdale with views across the calm sea. Luckily the favourable weather forecast hadn't changed so we could stick with our initial plan.

Day 1: Helmsdale to Dunbeath. Source; Memory Map

Plenty of light around 10pm  ©Fenfolio2014

After a quick breakfast and breaking down our tents we organised our shuttle, leaving a car behind halfway at Dunbeath and one in Lybster. We left most of our camping equipment in the car because we would set up our tents on the campsite in Dunbeath.

Setting off from Helmsdale we were instantly welcomed by a calm sea, huge cliffs and hundreds of seabirds such as guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and puffins!

The sea cliffs near Helmsdale ©Fenfolio2014
Massive cliff and sea stack at Ord Point ©Fenfolio2014
It looks rougher than it really was because of the angle!
Sea stack at Ord Point surrounded by seabirds

Hundreds of seabirds flying over our heads ©Fenfolio2014

Watching nesting seabirds from a safe distance ©Fenfolio2014
The cliffs have perfect ledges for the nesting seabirds

Berriedale was the only place where we could actually land so we took our lunchbreak here.

Approaching Berriedale
Lunchbreak at Berriedale harbour

Then we continued our journey further North and explored the wonderful caves at Traigh Bhuidhe.

Cave at Traigh Bhuidhe ©Fenfolio2014
Another cave at Traigh Bhuidhe ©Fenfolio2014
Entrance of  cave at Traigh Bhuidhe ©Fenfolio2014
The colours of the rock were really very vibrant!
Beatiful rock strata©Fenfolio2014
All this beauty is just a few hours away from our house!
The icing on the cake of our first day was to see the impressive and slightly psychedelic sea arch An Dun, where you get the impression of paddling steeply uphill (or downhill depending which way you go) due to the rock strata. While paddling through it and looking up these towering walls next to you, you feel so tiny and even dizzy! We couldn't get enough of this so we spent quite some time here going "up" and "down" again.

Paddling through sea arch An Dun ©Fenfolio2014

The rock strata gives you the illusion of paddling uphill!
Going downhill ©Fenfolio2014
Feeling tiny next to these huge cliffs! ©Fenfolio2014

More nesting seabirds ©Fenfolio2014

Paddling through another cave ©Fenfolio2014

Just before we arrived in Dunbeath we tried to find the secret entrance to the kitchen of Dunbeath Castle. Unfortunately the tide was not right to do this.

Dunbeath harbour with the castle in the distance  ©Fenfolio 2014
Crails at Dunbeath Harbour ©Fenfolio2014

Just before the heavens broke open we set up our tent and went to the Bay Owl for a nice meal, drink and sharing our experiences of a fantastic day.

The next day we started at Dunbeath Harbour again and made our way up to Lybster, exploring even more amazing caves.

Day 2: Dunbeath to Lybster. Source; Memory Map

Entrance of  a cave at Cleit Mhor©Fenfolio2014
And another one! ©Fenfolio2014

Rock art inside ©Fenfolio2014
There is light at the end of the tunnel ©Fenfolio2014

Stalactites in all kinds of shapes and colours
Nature's art gallery ©Fenfolio2014

The long and exposed coastline near Lybster ©Fenfolio2014

More sea stacks and great rockhopping ©Fenfolio2014

Rock strata ©Fenfolio 2014

Rock strata ©Fenfolio 2014

One of the spectecular caves South of Lybster ©Fenfolio2014

One of the spectecular caves South of Lybster ©Fenfolio2014

Cave with stalactites ©Fenfolio2014
One of the spectecular caves South of Lybster ©Fenfolio2014

Landing on Lybster beach next to the harbour ©Fenfolio2014

Yummy cake and coffee at Lybster cafe ©Fenfolio2014

The perfect ending of a wonderful kayak weekend
Words are just not enough to describe how fantastic this kayak trip was. It is one of the best for me so far since I took up sea kayaking in 2008. The West Coast of Scotland has always been the first choice for many sea kayakers due it's sheltered coastline and milder weather. I do hope that these photos will show the North East is a hidden gem and that they will inspire kayakers to consider it for their next trip!

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