Whitehills to Lossiemouth

 

Breakfast this morning on Whitehills Smokies from the local shop and smokery, with poached eggs on top. The Whitehills smokies are not quite as strong as the Arbroath smokies, but still have great flavour and set us up for the day.

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An ‘old boy’ in his old boat is going aground to dry out and antifoul and we offer to take lines etc. but he resolutely refuses all offers of help and soon has his boat balanced nicely on its single keel. He is a great example of an unhurried and easy approach to sailing which we can only hope to emulate (in our later years!!).

We say goodbye to Bertie and a memorable stay in the harbour which he runs on behalf of the community…what a great advert for real community ownership and action. We slide off the pontoon at noon and head out for Lossiemouth just 25 miles away to the west. With a forecast SW wind we are hoping for some decent sailing before rounding Scar Nose. Sadly the wind has too much west in it and we end up motoring gently along the coast accompanied by the ever present cormorants and terns. We are hoping for some dolphins or porpoises for company but none of them want to play with us at the moment sadly. We tick off the settlements along the way including Cullen with a stunning viaduct…

…and finally Scar Nose. The headland is a fantastic jumble of rocks with a great sweeping arch and some caves as well. It is distinctive from all directions…in broad daylight, but clearly not to be messed with in poor visibility or at night.

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No sooner are we past old Scar Nose than we are heading out across Spey Bay for Lossie at the far side, which is just a distant lump on the horizon. The wind stays resolutely on the nose and freshens to gusts of over 25kt. Heydays ploughs on through a short swell and chop more reminiscent of the solent than the North Sea. There is not another soul or boat in sight, and wrapped up in thermals and plenty of layers, we can relish the sharp wind and the feeling of real adventure in northern waters.

True to form, the wind freshens again as we are about to make our final approach to Lossiemouth. Fenders out on all sides and rope from every available cleat become redundant, as once inside the wind is zero and we are soon tied up on the visitors pontoon. Although we look less like intrepid sons of the sea and more like Last of the Summer Wine on tour…

The instructions for when the harbour office is shut tell us to collect keys and a welcome pack from the Steamboat Inn. This is clearly something of a chore and we set off with what some may say is indecent haste to the pub. It turns out to be somewhat lairy at 5.30 on Friday evening and we keep well clear of some ‘differences of opinion’ going on. So clear in fact that we go to another pub entirely….passing a stunning beach and dunes which we seemed to miss completely on the way in.

Our experience so far of Scottish pubs is a bit variable it has to be said. Real beer and even some live local music is escaping us at the moment, but an excellent Indian cheers everything up…and we’ve got some open wine on Heydays to finish off.

Footnote…the tumble dryer does not suggest particularly good value for more than a pair of knickers…

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