Calm seas, clear skies and a glorious winter paddle
There always seems to be one January weekend each year with clear skies and glorious sunshine, often associated with mists and inversions. For 2017, the 21st January was just such a day on such a weekend. We were itching to get out in the sea kayaks again and the forecast for the weekend was looking great.
I've wanted to paddle around the Tarbat Ness peninsula for a while now and here was the opportunity for our first paddle of 2017. Tarbat Ness lighthouse is one of the Stevenson lighthouses, the second tallest in the UK and it sits on the driest place in Scotland.
It also has a reputation for some big waves and a good deal of swell, so any paddle around Tarbat Ness needs to take account of weather, wind, tide and ability. There aren’t too many landing places if the weather turns!
Our plan was to start out from Portmahomack and paddle around the headland, on to Rockfield and finally to Balintore – a distance of around 25 km.
The weather was forecast to be good and the winds light, so all seemed in our favour. What we hadn’t reckoned with was the fog which, on our arrival at Portmahomack was somewhat dense! However, we waited it out, conscious that we needed to pick up the SW stream from Tarbat Ness at 12:30 and so the fog needed to lift by 11:00 at latest. And so it did!!
A glorious day, although cold when stopped (and water that would have been less than comfortable should a capsize have occurred!). Bright sunshine followed the fog and with a still, glassy sea, this was definitely a day to be savoured!
26km later, we coasted into Balintore harbour having enjoyed the Easter Ross scenery from the sea. Enjoy the photographs below and please feel free to provide feedback.
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Heading towards Tarbat Ness, it was good to tuck into the shore and play amongst the rocks.
Tania in silhouette. The fog and the backlight of the sun made for great photography and great silhouettes.
Tarbat Ness Point. I've seen many stormy seas at Tarbat Ness Point but today, there was only a small surge at the very point. Nothing to worry about and definitely a view to enjoy!
Turning the corner... Having paddled north east to gain the point, it was now time to turn southwestwards and on to Rockfield and Balintore
Tarbat Ness Lighthouse is one of the Stevenson lighthouses and is the second tallest lighthouse in the UK. It also has the distinction of being situated in the driest part of Scotland!
A sense of scale and reflections in the water
Tania in her kayak looking up at the lighthouse. There can't be many days when the lighthouse reflects in the water below!!
Lunchtime - Pulling the boats up onto the shore, we sat enjoying the sun having lunch.
Reflections and Contrasting Light
With a strong, low sun in front of us, the raised beach of the coastline was thrown into perspective of sunlight and shadow. With great light and calm seas, there were terrific, abstract reflections on the water.
The picturesque fishing village of Rockfield
Looking southwest and heading towards Balintore.
The view in front and the view back towards Tarbat Ness
Shafts of sunlight. Looking towards Nigg hill with contrasting light and the remnants of mist over the water.
The end in sight. After 26km, the pier at Balintore came ever closer and signalled our journey's end. With late afternoon approaching, the air temperature was definitely starting to drop and it was good to know that we were almost there.
Tania paddling into the harbour at Balintore.
The end of the journey and a classic day out for the first trip of 2017!!
- A very misty Portmahomack
- A very misty Portmahomack
- Packing the boats and waiting to see if the mist would lift
- The mist retreats and a great day beckons
- A sense of scale
- Portmahomack Harbour
- The mist retreats
- Calm seas and distant horizons
- Misty shoreline
- Tania close into the shore
- Tarbat Ness Lighthouse in the distance
- Tarbat Ness lighthouse shrouded in mist
- Tania in silhouette
- Approaching Tarbat Ness
- Tarbat Ness Point without the usual tumultuous sea...!
- Looking towards Rockfield
- On the south side of the lighthouse
- Tania paddling below the lighthouse
- Wilkhaven jetty
- Sunlight and shadows
- Wilkhaven bothy
- Setting off after lunch
- Heading towards Balintore
- How many reflections of Tania can you see in the water?
- The rugged coastline of the southern seaboard
- Balloan Castle
- Looking back towards Tarbat Ness
- Shafts of sunlight
- Lonely bothy
- Approaching Balintore harbour, late in the afternoon
- Tania paddling into the harbour
- The end of a great day....
Posted by Angus Mackie
I’m Angus Mackie, a professional forester and photographer, based just north of Inverness on the beautiful Black Isle. I'm on the North Coast 500 and am well placed to discover most of the Highlands. The iconic scenery of Glen Affric and the Cairngorms are close by whilst many of the wild and dramatic locations on the west coast are within easy reach.
Mountains, landscapes, coastlines.... As a landscape and panoramic photographer, I enjoy exploring Scotland and its wild and remote places and have discovered some of the best photography locations in the Highlands over the last 35 years of living up here. With a broad and wide ranging knowledge of the Highlands, I still enjoy finding new locations and fresh perspectives for my photography. The use of natural light to capture stunning scenery at spectacular locations is very much a key factor for my photography.
I’m a qualified Summer Mountain Leader, a Sea Kayak Leader and a UKCC Level 2 Sea Kayaking coach, with many years experience of leading and guiding. I am also a longstanding member of Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team.