Arbroath to Auchmithie

A very leisurely start to this year’s paddling – just 13km along the stunning coastline between Arboroath and Auchmithie – with every cave cutting into the soft, red cliffs explored to some extent.

As we set off from Arbroath a coastguard helicopter and RNLI boats seemed to be training together and made for an impressive sight, with the helicopter hovering low above the sea at times, whipping the surface up into the air.

The cliffs are peppered with caves, mostly tall and narrow, but others are much wider and squarer, occasionally of the size of a large house. Looks can be deceiving, often the narrow entrances lead to a widening cavern behind and at times we could turn our 5m kayaks inside with room to spare, others had to be cautiously reversed. Some have more than one entrance, even leading to hidden beaches and some have stalactites – not something I can recall seeing on sea caves before. All have colourful walls (when you can see), partly a result of the colour in the rock itself, partly due to growth on the surface – lots of oranges, purples, golden hues and greens too.

Though the sea was relatively calm, on a couple of occasions we experienced unnerving amounts of swell and chop suddenly within the caves, which act as funnels for all the water entering them. As well as being on the scary side of things, it (and the lighting) makes it difficult to do the caves any justice with the camera – too much movement, too much contrast and too little light.

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This is definitely a stretch of coastline to return to, there is more beyond Auchmithie for a start, but also to return to the same caves and try and capture the experience a bit better with the camera next time.

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