Portsoy to Whitehills – Section 8 | Day 10

Portsoy to Boyne Quarry

Passage planning notes:
There are no offlying rocks or shoals on this passage, apart from those visible close to shore.

Portsoy to East Head 0.8 miles
East Head to Cowhythe Head 0.7 miles
Cowhythe to Boyne Burn 0.3 miles


View of New Harbour, looking towards East Head
After picking up the baton from Portsoy, home to the Traditional Boat Festival, the Whitehills skiff, Heave Awa, sets off towards Easter Head then back towards Whitehills, which is estimated to take around one hour to complete. Leaving Portsoy’s New Harbour (dating from 1825 to accommodate the growing herring fleet), you need to head out to sea to avoid the waves crashing on the rocks that line the north harbour wall.

Whyntie Head towards Whitehills
After passing Cowhythe Head, we see the ruins of Boyne Castle which dates back to the 16th century. After rowing across Boyne Bay we see a beautiful sandy beach, at Whyntie Head, locally known as the Sands of Whitehills, with a fairly large colony of seals. The bay is guarded by offshore reefs, making it accessible only with great care.

Seals entering water from Whyntie

Boyne Quarry to Whitehills

Passage planning notes:
There are no offlying rocks or shoals on this passage, although close approach to Whyntie Head and Stake Ness should be avoided.
On approach to Whitehills be aware of the Cable Tail rock on west side of harbour entrance.
There is no slip for launch or recovery in Whitehills; however both basins are pontooned with a visitors’ long pontoon directly ahead on entry to the outer basin.

Boyne Burn to Stake Ness 1.4 miles
Stake Ness to Whitehills 0.7 miles

Three quarters of a mile further on, we row past Stake Ness, proposed as a nuclear power station site in 1969/1970. At the time, there was a mixed reaction to the plans but in general the positive economic input the development would have provided was welcomed. Although still being discussed as late as 1983, the project never came to fruition and the Torness power station in East Lothian perhaps saved the character and traditions of Whitehills.

The next rock formation is known as Craigneen, only a few minutes’ row from Whitehills Harbour. Our harbour proudly held a large fleet of inshore fishing boats until the 1990’s when it was converted, in 2000, to a very popular marina for locals and visitors.

As we have no beach or slip access, we depend upon being craned in and out of the water; our skiff remains afloat in the harbour during the long summer season, spending the depths of winter ashore.

We built our skiff Heave Awa during the winter of 2016/2017 using the former fish market, which the harbour commissioners kindly allowed us to use. The skiff is painted white and blue; the white to match the white in Whitehills and the blue to match the doors of the fish market. We named her Heave Awa as this is part of our village motto: ‘Heave Awa Fitehills’ as we proudly say.

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