Fraserburgh to Peterhead – Section 9 | Day 1

Introduction to the North East
– mile marker

The very north east coast of Scotland can be an inhospitable place with gales of wind, rough seas and the ever present threat of the dreaded ‘haar.’ It is also a place of great beauty, historic sites and unexpected connections with the outside world.

Five coastal rowing clubs are taking up the virtual challenge of rowing between Fraserburgh and Broughty Ferry. Collieston Offshore Rowing Club (CORC) is covering the section from Fraserburgh to Aberdeen. Catterline, Gourdon, Montrose and Broughty Ferry are covering the rest.

Weather: (ideally) warm, flat calm, gentle breeze from the NW
Distance covered: 19.4 miles.
Time: (optimistically) 4 hours

The most problematical day of our virtual row. As far as we know, no St Ayles Skiff has yet made the trip round Rattray Head. The area is known for its overfalls and careful timing is needed to reach Rattray at slack water. The real-world passage plans also include the option to transfer the baton by batonmobile between sections 8 and 9.

Rattray Head Lighthouse: Photo, VisitScotland
Leaving ‘The Broch’ the local name for Fraserburgh, Collieston’s two skiffs, Admiral Redsocks and Collies Cath, head out across the bay towards Cairnbulg Point. This takes us a good half mile offshore before rounding the point and then passing Inverallochy and St Combs. A south easterly row takes us past the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg reserve. The coast here is pretty uninteresting sand dunes, but as we approach Rattray Head, we can see the surface of the water becoming confused off the lighthouse.

Nothing daunted, our crew row through the overfalls and soon round The Ron. The Ron is a common name on the northeast coast, referring to rock features which jut out from the shore.

From Rattray to Peterhead is another long haul along a coastline of sand dunes, only relieved by the sight of the St Fergus gas terminal.

Peterhead, Europe’s largest fishing port, lies at the back of a kilometre wide bay enclosed by granite breakwaters built by convict labour between 1892 and 1956. It is also where CORC rows during the winter months.

At the end of this first days’ row, the Redsocks and the Cath are lifted into the sailing club compound for the night.

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