The Swiney – Rock Twitching

Colin Murray the skipper of the RIB Osprey  popped in for the usual cup of tea when he was on a two hour stopover waiting for the builders. We got looking at the map above the fire place and started talking about the Swiney.

The Swiney is a small rock located off the South Ness about 20 metres offshore. It is a rock that is only just visible on the lowest of tides. Colin said ‘You may not see the rock but you’ll see the Kelp that sits on top of it.’

The map above the mantelpiece –  Swiney is on the right

It was reasonable sized tides so I thought there would be a chance that I would be able to detect it. A bit of planning was involved. I had to head out at the low water if I was to have any chance I was to see it.

On Saturday morning I headed out with volunteer Alan. There is nothing nesting on the South Ness yet, so I knew we would not disturb anything. Alan decided against crossing the gully over to the South Ness and left me to it.

The Kelp being washed about in the swell was easy to see.  I’d found the Swiney. I watched it for a minute or so. I decided I might have the makings of a blog post so I thought I’d get a photo. Just as I was set up with the camera my luck was in. The swell was so great a good 12 inches of the rock was exposed.

The Swiney
Before I’d worked full time out on the Isle of May I was at Loch Leven. Even after 10 years of working there, there were parts of the nature reserve i had never visited. It was nice to go out and see the rock, something that I’d stood near many times not even realising it was there. A friend of mine used who to work on the Farnes once told me stories of how they used to land on named rocks that were only visible on the lowest tides for fun. I don’t think I’ll ever make it out to this one!
The guide markers (right/middle) and the South Horn

Kirkhaven can be a tricky harbour to enter if you don’t know it. The two white markers above are the line you should take if you are coming in from the east and once you can see up Fluke Street you turn into the harbour. The rocks form Kirkhaven stick out along way and hitting them could cause problems. These markers are on navigation charts and were painted again recently.

The rocks off Kirkhaven are visible at low tide

The low water landing at Logans Road at low tide
The high water landing at low water
It’s remarkable to think that nearly 3 metres of water fill this channel and the May Princess gets right up. It’s a totally different landscape when the tide is out.
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