Kinneff is the location on the east coast I have visited the least. This is partly because of its occasionally oppressive atmosphere, partly because of its inaccessibility, partly because agates here are scarce and partly because initially at least, I would rather be elsewhere. However, exceptional agates do occur here. Finding them however, takes a lot of tenacity, patience and timing.
The cliffs glower at Kinneff, the sea froths and spumes. To reach the location you must either follow the coast at low tide where it is accessible from inland, which is a dangerous excursion and the area is impassable at high tide, or trek across pathless muddy fields. Agates here are sparsely distributed, in a similar fashion as those found at locations in Argyll. The landscape is also more akin to that encountered on the wild west coast of Mull.
That said, agates and jaspers occur here in a wide array of types and colours, and in this respect are comparable to those found further south at St Cyrus, in far greater numbers. Fortification and Onyx agates in greyish blue hues are most common, yet occasionally specimens can be found in rich pastel shades. Indeed the initial agate photographed below seemed an interesting mix of blue-violet and pink-orange from the outside. As you can see the pattern is also affected by unusual inclusions. Fortification banding here can be exceedingly fine. Sagenitic, stalactitic, zeolitic and agates bearing the familiar segregation banding that predominates at Barras are also encountered. At certain places, I believe fossil pseudomorphs, albeit extremely rarely, may also be found.
Additionally, agates can be found in the fields close to the beach, and from those I stumbled upon during my necessary walk along the field-margin, they appeared to be unmarked, and jasper-like in orange and red.
The beaches here seem almost barren of life, especially when compared to Usan with its bonanza of crustaceans, insects, arachnids and birds. Their extreme exposure to the waves is paramount. Some places exhibit a haunted air, when the straggling seabirds cease to cry and the wind drops to barely a breath, the silence brings the isolated nature of the place into stark focus. Like a reflected glimpse of a pale phantom, alone at night in an empty house. Your gut lurches with fright and your head becomes light. Yet, it's merely Spotify accidently set-off on your mobile in a pocket. That's the origin of that eerie fluting.
This is a coastline punctuated by remnants of the oak carcasses of plundered wrecks, glimpses of seemingly inaccessible coves, hushed tales of tragic misadventures and secrets worth keeping. Nature seems slightly oppressed here, perhaps by the aforementioned heavy atmosphere, the dark and towering geology, and the slender hold life appears to have in this place, on a shattered blade of coastline that seemingly desires only that ultimate slide into oblivion.
Macabre sea spires lean in close to cave mouths as neatly sunk as the portals to tombs. The tide might rise with intent, and prevent an easy retreat. I have gawped at the high path to which one might attempt escape during such an event, closely clung almost toppled without rope to break necks in the drop. I would not try unless I gave quarter to fear. Better wait it out, or, could one endure the silence of that night? Furthermore, why, isn't all well here?
Mythical coves at Kinneff materialize like the last outposts before sleep. Granted evocative names, yet promptly excised from the memories of anyone alive. Standing out there, beneath an imposing cliff that observes the impassive slate-grey sea like a wartime sentinel, you do have a sense of pervading urgency to return, as the light fades like a star at dawn, and your path is swallowed by a famished tide.
Twice now, approaching dusk, I have seen a murky abhorrence appear a short distance offshore. It lolls like a tasting tongue for several minutes, before suddenly displaying a disturbing tensile flexibility and venomous speed. It roils at the edges of its cream belly like a Planarian, and then to the deeps. Always indistinct, with little suggestion of markings or features. It appears to note my scent, and then, disappears.
Fancy aside, you can well imagine M.R James concocting a tale set here. "The Sea Hag" perhaps, or "The Watchman's Rock". It's a place I often imagine Victorian gents sat waffling over a cuppa, winding their moustaches intently, like licorice whirls. Their top hats ruined by the sea. Later, they'll pompously maintain their composure on leaving to rejoin the carriage train, despite displaying the luminosity of fear clearly in their glistening eyes. Harried by a frozen, seething wind, their plummy voices are fractured with violent stammers. The legacy of that foul sea bitch, haunting the cave with goblin spiders and wormy snails. Creepy kicks.
I'll bound over the boulders, some cutthroat winter's morning, and take my measured chances>