Surfing amongst the Scottish elements
SCOTLAND IS A LAND of ever changing elements, extreme ones at that, especially along the coastlines.
So when one decides to go there for a surf mission as I just did, expect everything from hectic, frozen wind or snow to blinding light shows with colors as vibrant as anywhere.
It’s a part of the world I’ve been drawn back to over and over, because of the vast, diverse coastlines, abundance of islands and potential for perfect waves on what feels like a fringe of the world.
This particular wave is called Bagpipes, and it has gained a reputation over the recent years as a premier spot in this area. This was the only pure blue-sky day of the trip, which came right off the bat. A week of full bore weather deep, we were hoping for another of these.
We flew into Inverness and had a night there before heading north. Al got us booked into an Old hotel on the river, directly across from the city Castle. The architecture all over Scotland is such a testament to detail and another phase in time where constructing these stone works of art was part of life. I had a very pleasurable morning coffee the next morning right here.
Scottish Country living. Make sure you have a good pile of wood and pair of waterproof boots.
Al Mackinnon, with his back turned, is a photographer from the UK, whom I've traveled with quite a bit and met up with for this journey. He loves these coasts, ranking them in his favorite of the world, and has spent months camping in his 4x4 Volkswagen Van all over the region, which takes a certain type of person. He's got Scottish blood, and has a tolerance to cold unlike anybody I've seen. The weather was near freezing with the wind chill most of our trip and he wore shorts almost everyday, even during the worst hailstorm I've ever experienced. No claims of cold whatsoever. He's with Andy Bain, a main local in the area and genuine nice guy.
This is the epitome of an exposed lighthouse. Dunnet Head sticks way out in the ocean and cops the brunt of all the wind and weather. The sun had just gone down, squalls were swirling all around and the wind was blowing at least 50 mph this evening
A lonely wave with a lonely boat.
This beautiful mansion has a view looking over such a nice part of the coast. Would be a nice place to call home!
This is what I came here hoping to surf. This wave is world class and very high consequence as it is breaking only over two feet of water. Put this in a more populated part of the world and it would be littered with people, but this part of the world, only one guy named Aussie Rick rides it, by himself for the most part.
Thurso East is the most well know wave in Scotland, and very much world class. A solid community of wave riders has sprouted around the area because of its consistency and proximity to Thurso, the end of the road town of Northern Scotland.
Downtown Thurso. After reading this memorial I couldn't stop thinking about how harsh life must have been for a Scottish warrior
It's a bit hard to see, but this image was taken during a hectic hailstorm. I was hiding behind a car, already in my wetsuit, waiting for it to ease to make a twenty-minute jaunt through bog land to the surf spot.
This is another one of the waves I came hoping to surf. We had one chance but only a small window of time, like an hour, because the tide was dropping so fast, as it does this part of the world. I broke my board on my second wave, went in to get my next but by that the time the tide was already nearly making the reef dry, so I took a couple photos before the wave became unsurfable. At low tide you can stand dry on the reef where the wave is breaking now.
This was one of my travel partners, Nic Von Rupp, a Portuguese/ German professional surfer. He has more surf energy than anybody I've traveled with for a bit, and was charging the big ones. Here is a common outcome in waves of that caliber, at a spot in front of this wind farm.