Passage Planning Notes:
New slip located in Sandhaven harbour used by local Sea Scouts.
Beware offlying rocks.
Beware tidal conditions at Kinnaird Head.
Rosehearty to Sandhaven 2.0 miles
Sandhaven to Kinnaird Head 1.6 miles
Kinnaird Head into Fraserburgh 1.0 miles
The last day of this section is the shortest, and it will be slightly sad to end at Fraserburgh; that’s as far as we dare go on the water in this corner of Aberdeenshire due to the tides around Rattray Head. The baton will then travel by land across to Peterhead where the next club, Collieston Offshore Rowing Club, will pick it up and head south. But for now there are a few more marine miles to be done.
Leaving Rosehearty we are likely to encounter ribs full of divers setting off to explore the local underwater delights, which include a long gulley often teeming with all kinds of marine life. The local information board also mentions a shipwreck – let’s hope it’s not a skiff!
The coast continues to be low and level, with the coast road visible in places. Happily we won’t be stuck in traffic at any point, gliding quite sedately on for this last hour or so of our leg in the north east. After some of the dramatic cliffs of the last couple of days, it’s either quite nice to have something more gentle to look at, or a bit dull, depending on your perspective. It does mean there’s nothing much in the way of conflicting tides for us to worry about, and so hopefully makes for a relatively leisurely row to our destination in Fraserburgh.
The shore is still quite rocky close up and so we aim to keep our distance so as not to encounter anything in the shallows.
The first signs of life after Rosehearty come at Pitullie, a small area of Fraserburgh, which was once a small fishing port in its own right. There is what looks to be an upturned boat not far from the shoreline, but it turns out to be a glamping pod, built with a nautical theme in keeping with its location. Holiday-makers may be wondering who those bold souls are out on the water as our flotilla passes by!
After Pitullie we make a pit-stop at Sandhaven harbour, home to the local Sea Scouts, who would like the chance of a taster row in one of our skiffs! Sandhaven is another former fishing community which eventually lost out to Fraserburgh in the late 1800’s with the rise of the herring curing industry and the expansion of Fraserburgh’s own harbour. Nowadays, Sandhaven has more holiday homes than fishermen. The harbour is sheltered, with a new slipway where we could wait out any weather stopping us from rounding Kinnaird Head, home of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses.
We should be able to see the landmark lighthouse by now, a relatively squat white building with the familiar glass dome, a beacon for many ships over the years. This was the very first lighthouse on mainland Scotland, built in 1787 inside Kinnaird Head Castle – yes, truly!
Kinnaird Head Castle and the adjacent Wine Tower are two of the best-preserved structures of the ancient ‘Nine castles of the Knuckle’ situated along the Buchan coast. The 16th century castle was built by the Frasers of Philorth to demonstrate dominance and power over their planned town of Fraserburgh. The castle was sold to the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1787 to be converted into Scotland’s first mainland lighthouse, making Kinnaird Head unique among Scotland’s castles.
It makes for quite a sight whilst rowing around the head into Fraserburgh; this is a built-up and industrial town, something we haven’t seen much of on the RowAround for quite a few miles. The imposing grey concrete wall surrounding the harbour area dwarfs our little boats! We have called the harbour master who has given us the all clear, yet it is with some trepidation that we enter the harbour mouth. This is a very busy fishing port and the harbour has several distinct areas, one of which includes a boat lift – hopefully not something we will need.
All the rowers are surely relieved to get to a pontoon where we can tie up and wait for the curious fishermen to gather round to hear the latest tale of the RowAround Scotland.