August Challenge #1: Swim Bowfiddle Rock

I've kayaked it.  I've shot a TV piece about kayaking around it.  So ever since a friend commented on this blog and suggested we swim it, Bowfiddle Rock was scheduled for August.

Except we swam it on the last day of July.

Still, I'm counting it as an August challenge completed.

Access is easy down a reasonably steep slope from the houses above.  The rock is signposted from the centre of Portknockie.

When we arrived a local was cutting his grass, so I asked permission to park on the street in front of his garden.  I later saw that mini-busses from a local outdoor centre parked on the grass just a little further along the road.

We arrived 2 hours after low water, so a lot of the rocky beach was still uncovered.  The sea was so shallow we walked at least half-way to the rock.   As our GPS track shows, we initially went around the rock, and once you're out the 'back' you do feel quite a way from shore.

GPS track
The water quality is exceptional.  Shoals of fish passed underneath and, nearer shore, lots of types of kelp and weed waved in the rising tide.

Further east, the coast is fractured with caves, and collapsed caves that have formed stacks and bays.  All these are home to an assortment of seabirds.

Close your mouth - seabirds overhead!
Frankly, the bays to the east provided more interesting swimming that the big rock itself.  Somewhere amongst them is a very large cave that previously I kayaked into when I was filming Doug Cooper from Glenmore Lodge (see video below).  On this occasion we didn't find it.

However, we did find more than a few lions' mane jellyfish which have thrived in Scotland this summer.  The exceptional water quality made them highly visible, pulsating masses of red and purple.

Seaward view
Heading back to the Bowfiddle itself, we finally went through the arch - out and in.  Along the way we saw a young seabird who didn't look too well.  He was clinging to the rock, low down, close to the rising tide.  There was nothing we could do, and Liz feared he'd be easy prey for the Bonxies lining up nearby.

Bowfiddle Rock in an outstanding piece of rock, although it isn't an outstanding swim.  Still, I'm delighted we did it, because it's always nice to try something away from our much-loved west coast.


Ian Johnston said...

Good stuff Simon! The cave you were looking for is very probably the "Whale's Mou", a big cave-tunnel with a window half way along and an opening to a hidden bay at the back. It's just a couple of hundred metres to the east of your GPS track and would make a terrific extension to the swim - next time?!


Simon Willis said...

Thanks for that - I;d paddled into it with Doug Cooper but couldn't remember. Thanks for giving us the idea for this swim.