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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Journey to the Bell Rock lighthouse

The Bell Rock lighthouse is an iconic feature of the North sea coast of Scotland. It marks a piece of sandstone which had cost the lives of thousands of seamen 18 km offshore. From 1807 to 1810 Robert Stevenson and 60 men erected the lighthouse using Aberdeen granite. Here is a BBC video report: and here is an article about its construction: 
The coordinates are 56° 26.065'N 002° 23.230'W or grid reference: NO762269.

Since moving to Scotland I saw the lighthouse from the coast and always wanted to see it up close. Unfortunately I was unable to join an earlier kayak trip but when Joan mentioned a second trip this year from Kingsbarns, which is 21 km away, I was very keen. We were nervous about the fog but Tim and Mike are experienced sea navigators and they were joined by Joan, Ian, Robbie and myself. Here we are about to launch.
 Conditions were exceptionally calm but the mist persisted. 
 Here the A team is checking our navigation.
 After 2 h 30 min we heard a diesel engine of a large ship and sounds which were generated by the fog horn of the lighthouse. Here is Robbie approaching the ship which is moored near the Bell Rock. 
 Finally the Bell Rock lighthouse emerged from the mist and at the same time a helicopter flew above. 
 We reached the Bell rock after 3 h and 5 min and the water was still flats. There were many seals for which the Bell rock is an ideal habitat. 
 Here are two of them. 
 We had lunch and were chatting with the lighthouse keepers while they were waiting for the helicopter. Here is the helicopter from the Northern lighthouse board.
 On the way back the sun came out at times.
 Here is Ian, far away from land but in the sun. 
Later it became windier, the fog returned and it was difficult to follow a bearing due to waves that came nearly at a 90 degree angle. Here is our return route. We saw land about 3 km North of Kingsbarns.
Here we arrive. We had paddled over 46 km. 

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