Balmerino

I've been exploring Balmerino for some time now, and it's become one of my very favourite locations. During the winter months, the shingle there can be very slippy and thus difficult and treacherous to negotiate, and with limited daylight the tides must be observed closely lest one become stranded under the steep cliffs and bluffs and forced to attempt a risky escape. During the spring and summer it can be a thoroughly enjoyable place to visit, and with the procurement of agates in mind, it is by far the most extensive location that exists along the Tay.

Generally speaking, the majority of agates encountered here are orange in colour, or less frequently red, with strong fortification banding, the lighter bands usually enhanced somewhat by weathering. indeed, many nodules are bleached almost entirely white by exposure to the elements. Often, when being ground and polished and concurrently wet, the lighter fortification bands absorb the water and become invisible, the true intricacies of the agate only being visible after the stone is allowed to dry out. However many varieties of agate other than fortification agates are found in this area, with the most prevalent being those of the mossy persuasion, with the sagenitic variety also occurring frequently although only rarely in conjunction with fine pale or coloured fortifications. The omnipresent pale blue/grey Scottish agate nodule is of course, also encountered here, albeit far more rarely. Pleasing contrasts of colour can exist within the markings of one stone owing to the results of the aforementioned extensive weathering. Blue/grey, orange, red, lavender, pink, white, yellow, and even deep grey and black are all colours I have seen in this region. Stalactitic agates occur only rarely, but these can be found in colour here, the stalactites being composed of calcite which appears almost luminously white. More often one might encounter a piece exhibiting just a few stalactites or "pendants" skewing the fortifications. Geodes are common and many nodules here are composed of mostly quartz, with regular forays into both amethyst and smoky-quartz, as well as calcite.

As has been previously noted by others, the majority of the pieces here are small in size, ranging from 0.5cm to 3 or 4cm in diameter, however larger agates occur fairly regularly although many are extensively fractured, very pale or without any significant markings, often being just orange chalcedony exhibiting a greenish-brown skin. Most of the larger pieces prove to be moss agates, or sagenitic pieces or occasionally stalactitic or tube agates that share much in common with those pieces found in the farmland around Norman's Law further south.

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