As a Fife Ambassador I would like to share some of the many interesting places that make up the wonderful Kingdom of Fife. I am standing outside Culross Palace, a late late 16th – early 17th century merchant’s house. Owned by Sir George Bruce, a successful merchant who sucessfully traded with the Low Countries and the Baltic countries. He had interests in the local coal mining and salt production industries, and is credited with sinking the world’s first coal mine to extend under the sea.
Many of the materials used in the construction of the palace were obtained during the course of Bruce’s foreign trade such as Baltic pine, Dutch red pantiles, floor tiles and glass.
Culross is well worth a visit. Stunning buildings, architecture, and the 13th century abbey, something interesting around every corner. Culross is recently famous for being the set of some of the scenes from the popular American-British television drama series Outlander, based on the historical time travel series of novels by Diana Gabaldon.
It was cold and raining when I visited Culross but that did not deter me at the end of my wanderings and exploration a well deserved, long and lazy lunch in the Biscuit Café. Great menu and well worth a visit.
On Sunday, St Valentine’s Day, the Keys Bar in St Andrews held a charity fancy dress party and raffle to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease Scotland a charity close to Keys Bar’s owners family hearts. Carol Gordon the landlady and mother of Claire the present owner died of the disease.
What a wonderful night! There was a great atmosphere in the pub and many turned out for the event wearing amazing fancy dress costumes and the staff were kept very busy. We were entertained by local singer Christina Mowatt who sang a selection of music throughout the evening. Fantastic comparing by Andrew (Donny Rover) and Chris Nicoll (Claire the owner’s husband) and a music quiz from local Harry McCabe.
Most of all was the generosity of the locals, people and businesses of St Andrews, parts of Fife and parts of Scotland who donated amazing prizes for the raffle.
Over £2,250 was raised on the night. I am looking forward to next year’s event.
The other day I visited Dysart harbour. Having not been there for many years it was great to see a vibrant busy harbour. The majority of motor boats and yachts all out and on the piers getting their overhauls and maintenance done.
The earliest records date the town of Dysart to the 13th century, but the local legend of St Serf dates the area to 500 AD. The harbour dates to 1450 with trade with the Low Countries. Exports of local salt and coal and in the 16th and 17th centuries trade expanded to the Baltic Countries. Dysart earned the nicknames of “Salt Burgh” and from the Dutch influence in Dysart’s buildings inspired by the shipowners who went there “Little Holland”. The early 19th century saw extensive improvements to the harbour . Sadly the demise of the uneconomic Lady Blanche Pit in 1929 saw the end of the coal trade from the harbour.
Originally known as the Shore House where cargo from visiting ships was stored during the building, which dates to the 17th century and in 1840 became the three-storey Harbourmaster’s House. Today, the house is home to the headquarters of the Fife Countryside and Coast Trust. It also has a great bistro with a good selection of wholesome food and hot and cold beverages. It is well worth a visit.
Last year Dysart Harbour played host as a film set to the very popular TV series Outlander. The Harbourmaster’s House and the west part of the harbour were turned into the French port of Le Havre. You will have to wait until the second series screened next year to see the results.
The Kingdom of Fife has a rich and varied maritime heritage and you don’t need to travel far in Fife to find it. Get out in your car, on your bike or on foot and explore!
Driving down the Fife coast the other day I saw two semi-submersible drilling rigs at anchor in Leven Bay. The sight of the two oil rigs reminded me of my 11 years from 1979 as a Stability Officer/Barge Engineer on semi-submersible drilling rigs and jack-up installations. During my offshore oil career I experienced two major slumps and like the slump today many rigs were laid up in bays and firths on the east coast of Scotland.
To my amazement one of the two oil rigs in Leven Bay was an oil rig I worked on 29 years ago. She is the Sedco 711. I wonder what her future is now? The other oil rig is the Transocean prospect.
Fife has a long relationship with the offshore oil industry, Methil, Burntisland and Rosyth along with various oil related business have supported the great North Sea Oil industry.
If you want to find out the names and types of the various vessels that we see off the Fife coast then go to this free AIS tracking site:
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites.
Fife Council has a network of ambassadors in place. The Fife Ambassadors are inspirational people who represent Fife’s many faces, share a passion for the Kingdom and can promote the area to both national and international audiences as a destination of choice to live, work, visit and invest.
You can imagine how proud and honoured I am to have been invited and to become a Fife Ambassador. The Kingdom Of Fife is a unique and diverse region of Scotland. Go out and explore this amazing Kingdom, there is so much to discover.
Yesterday I was out at Fife Ness, the most easterly headland of the Kingdom of Fife. The word Ness is an archaic Norse word meaning “nose” and when you look at the shape of Fife on a map it resembles that of a dog’s head and Fife Ness the tip of its nose.
Fife Ness has a long history; evidence of prehistoric sites, Danish invaders, 17th century harbour works, a 18th/19th century tide mill, tide pond, a lime-kiln and a HM Coastguard Station and houses (station now closed and houses in the private sector). Also close by is an airfield and associated buildings used during both world wars. It is the best-preserved abandoned airfield in Scotland, with unique designs of hangar, a military hospital, and a whole range of WW2-era buildings, including a Torpedo Trainer.
Fife Ness has a special place in my heart. In the early 1980’s I did some of my first SCUBA dives down the skellies at Lochaber Rock and my first shipwreck the Vildfugl which struck Lochaber Rock in 1951.