Cullen to Portsoy – Section 8 | Day 9

Scar Nose to Logie Head

Passage planning notes:
Safe passage between Headlands.
Entry to Cullen Bay on west side, beware of 2 rocks close SE of Bow Fiddle rock.
Caple Rock generally covered during calm conditions.
Landing in Cullen Harbour.

Scar Nose to Logie Head 1.9 miles
Scar Nose to Cullen Harbour 1.2 miles
Cullen Harbour to Logie Head 1.2 miles

Logie Head to Sandend

Passage Planning notes:
Safe passage between headlands.
Approach to Sunnyside needs local knowledge due to 3 reefs extending outwards from shore.
Reefs do not affect passage between headlands.
Landing in Sunnyside beach dependent upon surf.

Logie Head to Garron Point 1.5 miles

Three strokes on port … and Give Way … Together …

And we’re off … crews with beaming, excited faces. We set off, the bright pink Soy Quine and lime green Soy Loon, on our first ‘home’ section of the RowAround Scotland from Cullen to Portsoy; a few of our club members had headed over to the west coast to virtually row Ardnamurchan to Kyle of Lochalsh back in May (section 5). Cullen Harbour dries out at low tide; however, today high tide is at around 11am so we have plenty of water. We rendezvous with George’s armada from Finechty, and receive the baton.

We’ve managed a reasonably early start and although its currently dull and overcast, the forecast promises some sunshine… and possibly, a not so welcome, slight breeze later on.

As we leave Cullen harbour, like every other coastal village, Cullen takes on a whole new perspective from the sea. The closely packed cottages of Seatown nestle together under the shadow of the magnificent ‘Harry Potteresque’ railway viaduct. Sadly, trains no longer pass over the eight arched structure since the railway closures of 1968.

Rounding the point, we soon see a vast array of graves at the Pet Cemetery … sentimental tributes to beloved pets as well as the final resting place of several large sea creatures. Soon after, we get a glimpse of the Giants Steps, an impressive series of steep steps cut around the cliff which were constructed single-handedly by a local man.

The conditions are good so far and spirits are high as we pass the massive cliffs of Logie Head. Seabirds – guillemots, gannets and kittiwakes – cheer us on with a cacophony of cries. The sea has started to get a bit choppier but nothing to concern us so far.

An aerial view of Sunnyside beach on a low Spring tide shows the hazards of landing
Further on, the cliffs give way to the stunning sands of Sunnyside Beach. To land on Sunnyside you need to go the easternmost end, where there is a stretch of about 50 metres without any submerged rocks. We decide it is time to stop for some refreshments as the surf is calm enough to land!

Luckily, we have some of Ruth’s fabulous flapjacks to keep us going. Suitably re-energised, it is time to relaunch the boats and move on.

… come on guys, we need to pick it up … give us a big ten! ?

Findlater Castle
The imposing ruins of Findlater Castle come into view… precariously perched on a promontory over 15 metres above us. The castle, which was once besieged by the forces of Mary Queen of Scots, has been unoccupied since the 1600’s but retains an air of mystery and intrigue.

The water almost seems to thicken and it feels like we’re dragging the oars through soup! We’re between Garron Point and Redhythe Point which guard the approach to Sandend Bay.

Soy Quine is her name, she’s fun to be with and has bought much excitement with her very bright pink personality around the town of Portsoy. Soy Quine was built mainly by women under the direction of men who knew what they were doing. Or so they said.
Portsoy Coastal Rowing Club has been around for over seven years. The Quine was kit number 41; our nearest club at the time was Ullapool, 120 miles away. The skiff community has grown since then and we are lucky to have so many clubs now along our coastline.
My own experience has been amazing. I met many new friends during the build; not knowing many people in Portsoy at the time, I was made to feel so welcome. I loved the concept that women could use tools – hammers, chisels – my favourite was the spokeshave! We had never even rowed; how would this work? The St Ayles Rowing Club in Anstruther visited Portsoy Boat Festival in 2012 when the Quine was still upside down on the building jig.The ‘Anster’ crew took us out for a row and the rest is history!
What Soy Quine has done for our community has always been a talking point – the colour has a lot to do with it! Even people in the town who don’t row are interested to know how she is doing and where the club are off to next. The support given to us from local businesses and members of the public has been great. Our skiff has bought people of various ages, abilities, skills and walks of life together. Portsoy is a mixed club of men and women who come to row for different reasons; some for fitness and competition, others for the love of the sea and being able to be out on the boat on the water.
Over the past seven years, we have trailed Soy Quine to regattas across the UK and Northern Ireland, where we have made rowing friends from other clubs.

– Taken from an article in Watercraft magazine, November/December 2019

Garron Point to Portsoy (including Sandend)

Passage planning notes:
Landing in Sandend harbour is not recommended.
The bay has a sandy beach which shelves very gently.
Landing would be dependent upon no surf.
When rounding Redhythe Point be aware of Skate and Woodcock rocks on west side 200 metres off.
Rocks also on E side of Point but closer to shore.

Garron Point to Redhythe Point 1.1 miles
Redhythe Point to Portsoy 1.0 mile

Sandend, or San’ine as its locally known, is another beautiful sandy beach often washed by big rolling waves which attract surfers all year round. It’s one of our regular rowing destinations, a comfortable 2½ miles each way. Today though, we press on and after passing Redhythe Point, the water gets less turbulent and the rowing easier.

We know we’re on the home straight when the church spires of Portsoy appear in the distance. The rocky cliffs and shoreline become ever more familiar. The disused open-air swimming pool (built in 1936) still retains some of its structure and although no longer suitable for swimming, it attracts families who play in the sand and anglers who scramble across the rocks to fish for mackerel. Affectionate memories of a time when a ‘sweem’ at Portsoy Pool was the highlight of the summer holidays!

Minutes later we’ve reached the calm waters between the picturesque Portsoy harbours. HOME! How privileged we are to live in a place of such historic charm!

… OK, take us in … gently does it … and Oars! Well done everybody! ?

Portsoy has been known to have some harsh conditions sometimes; we had thought we would need to schedule in a storm day! This hasn’t been necessary, as we have had some (virtual) good weather. These photos, courtesy of Allan Robertson, show what it can be like; anyone who has been to the Boat Festival will know that these conditions are not limited to the winter. Two years ago, the burn almost wiped out the road to the overflow campsite just two weeks before the festival, threatening the whole event – as shown in the flooded Sail Loft photo.

Storm approaching
Portsoy Storm
Portsoy Storm
Flooded Sail Loft

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