Sunday, 25 August 2013

For whom the Bell tolls.

The Bell Rock lies 11 miles from Arbroath and 12 from Fife Ness out in the North Sea, on it sits the Bell Rock Light the first lighthouse built by George Stevenson. As the rock is under water for most of the day it took them two years just to lay the first two courses of stones. The fact that the light still stands unchanged is testament to the stonemason that worked on it's construction. 
 To reach the rock we set off from Fife Ness at 09.00 and paddled on a bearing for three hours, unfortunately it was very misty out at the rock. We very nearly mist it, when we were about a mile and a half away I got just a brief glimpse of the light through the mist just long enough to get a bearing. We'd drifted about a mile off our line on the tide. As we paddled towards the rock we could see nothing until about 500 yards out just for a moment we could make out the rocks at the base of the lighthouse. The sound of breaking waves and seals howling guided us on. Not until 100 yards out did the light come into view. We landed at 12.00

The stonework is all dovetailed together.
Leaving the rock and the mist finally starts to lift.

We'd chosen Fife Ness to start from because we'd get more tidal assistance on the way out. On the way back we still had a push from the tide but the flood isn't as strong as the ebb here so it took an extra 45 minutes to get home.


  1. Oh, this is great Owen. I've thought about this trip before just to try and visit some of the Stevenson lights, but yours is the first report I've seen. By the look of the pictures it needs a flat calm day?

    Kind Regards

  2. Yes very calm even then it wasn't easy getting out onto the rock. If you start from Arbroath your a mile closer but you've got to paddle across the tide. Starting from Fife Ness your going with the stream. We were surprised by how strong it was much more than the 2 knots we were expecting. The rock is only exposed at low water springs so timing is critical.