A Day out at the RICOH Women’s British Golf Open and the loss of HMS Success

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As a Fife Ambassador, I was fortunate to be invited to a hospitality day at the golf courtesy of Fife Golf Partnership and the Fife Tourism Partnership. Kingsbarns is a wonderful golf course with breathtaking coastal views of St Andrews bay and Kingsbarns beach.

I walked down to the 1st hole and watched golfers from Thailand, Wales, Spain, USA, Korea, Germany, Iceland, Germany and China to name but a few tee off. I witnessed some great golf and found a friendly atmosphere. There were some dramatic skies with the building up of rain clouds but as it is Scotland the spectators and golfers alike were prepared.

I went up to the Champion’s Club at the hospitality area and had breakfast and met up with some fellow Fife Ambassadors and members of Fife Tourism Partnership, Tourism St Andrews and BID St Andrews. After a hearty breakfast, I went down to see Scotland’s Sally Watson tee off and follow her for a few holes.

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A significant moment for me was looking out from Kingsbarns beach I saw the St Andrews fishing boat “Brothers In Arms” shooting creels off Kingsbarns harbour. My 12-year old son, Harris was out on the boat learning to be a commercial lobster/crab fisherman.

Time for lunch, and a chance to chat and a wonderful lunch washed down with a few Darnley’s gin and tonics. Sadly, the golf succumbed to heavy rain showers so I watched the play from the shelter of the pavilion balcony.

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Kingsbarns beach. HMS Success wrecked  just to the right of the right hand rocks in the picture

 

Kingsbarns golf course is a wonderful course. Looking east along the beach from the harbour at the second tee it was hard to imagine the events that took place here on the early hours of the 27th December 1914 when a strong north-easterly gale was blowing in St Andrews bay.

The 210-foot long Royal Navy “B” Class torpedo boat destroyer HMS Success on her way back to Port Edgar in the Firth of Forth from a patrol of Heligoland (German coast). Her route home took her in the direction of Aberdeen, down past the Bell Rock Lighthouse round Fife Ness and then up the Forth. It was a dark night in the strong gale and heavy sleet showers. In order to avoid the full force of the gale HMS Success kept close to the land. As it was wartime, shore lights and beacons were extinguished and it was impossible to judge the exact proximity of the land. The water is deep at Kingsbarns close up to the rocks and nothing in the vessel’s course suggested that danger was so near at hand. At 04:00 in the morning HMS Success ran aground with a crash on the Cambo Briggs rocks just 300M from the shore at Kingsbarns beach.

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HMS Success

 

The firing of the vessel’s guns first boomed out he news of the disaster to the shore and a wireless message for help was sent to other known naval vessels in the area. Tow torpedo boat destroyers and two minesweepers appeared on the scene in response to the call for help. The Coastguards at Fife Ness were alerted and the Crail and St Andrews Lifeboats called out. HMS Success lay with her bows completely underwater with the crew clinging to the chains and standards on the stern. Attempts to use the rocket apparatus failed due to the weather so the lifeboats bravely rowed their way through the rough seas and after many dangerous trips managed to get all the 67 crew safely to the shore.

After a brief rest, the crew returned to the shore to secure their ship. The ship was badly holed and water had flooded the engine room. By the next day the sea had worked the bows of the ship round and she lay with her stern pointing towards the shore. Salvage work commenced and her two torpedoes were laid on the shore and steamers were alongside to receive her guns and other moveable gear. It was found that it would not be possible to refloat her, so she was stripped of fittings and from the beach, traction engines removed most of the hull. What could be used again was taken back to the naval dockyards at Rosyth. At certain low tides and when the sands have shifted, remains of the lower hull of the ship can be seen.

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Remains of  HMS Success

I highly recommend a visit to Kingbarns Golf Course, Kingsbarns beach and of course the British Women’s Open.

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Happy New Year Fife

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Red Arrows fly past over the Old Course at St Andrews

2017 is the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. As a Fife Ambassador I encourage you to explore the rich and diverse history and heritage of the Kingdom of Fife. You do not need to go far to discover something interesting. Go to the welcome to Fife website and take part in an exciting competition. http://www.welcometofife.com/highlight/year-of-history-heritage–archaeology-competition

So come on Fifers and visitors…explore!!!!

 

 

2017 year of History, Heritage & Archaeology

When I am not out at sea investigating deep water shipwrecks I am very much part of my local community and my local region. Not only am I a trustee of St Andrews Harbour Trust, I am a Fife Ambassador. Made into the local news all over Fife. That’s me holding the letter A for archaeology. I am happy and proud to be a Fife Ambassador and during 2017 I will be blogging and tweeting all sorts of interesting stories and facts about the amazing Kingdom of Fife.

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Red Arrows over the Old Course at St Andrews

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Always something interesting happening in St Andrews. Saturday evening I took my youngest son down to the 18th green at the Old Course to see a fly past by one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams…….the Royal Air Force, Red Arrows aerobatic team.

St Andrews is hosting the Links Trophy where the world’s leading amateur golfers compete for the Links Trophy. Some of these amateurs will go on to become household names.

The Red Arrows were conducting a 30 minute display at the Arbroath Festival of Heroes. Flying the distinctive red Hawk jets with the coloured smoke trails the Red Arrows flew low over the Eden estuary, the back nine of the Old Course and passed over the 1st Tee and 18th green.

Sitting on the steps in front of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, the fly past was over to quick. Flying in formation with coloured smoke trails the Red Arrows flew low over the golf course and head south-east over the town. It was a great spectacle for members of the public and the golfers. I hope the Red Arrows did not put any of the golfers off their shot!

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Fife’s National Dish – A challenge to the Kingdom’s chefs

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As a Fife Ambassador I enjoy visiting the many varied and interesting towns, sites and places around the kingdom. Of course this involves enjoying the abundant, varied and interesting cafes, restaurants and pubs that are found throughout the kingdom.

What do you and the many chefs of Fife recognize as Fife’s “national dish”? As an archaeologist and historian my research has come up with reference to a Kingdom of Fife Pie. A traditional rabbit pie. So what is the best recipe for such a pie? Is there another dish or recipe that can claim to be Fife’s National Dish? Some say its Chilli Ca Canny……..

The Golden Fringe of Fife – Elie Ness Light House

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It has been a great week of sunny clear skies and wonderful sunrises and sunsets throughout the kingdom. The other evening I was down at Elie Ness Lighthouse to catch a wonderful cloudless sunset. Looking across Largo Bay, the low tide exposing the East Vows rocks and its beacon. This was built in 1846 and the “bird’ cage on top of the beacon was intended as a safe refuge for shipwrecked mariners until they were rescued.

East Vows Beacon

Unusual to see so many oil rigs at anchor in the bay. A sad sign of the downturn in the North Sea oil industry at present. The three semi-submersible drilling units are the Transocean Prospect, the SEDCO 714 and a drilling rig I worked on as a Watchstander back in 1988, the SEDCO 711.

Lighthouses have been a safety aid to mariners for centuries. During bad weather and reduced visibility the lights from lighthouse helped mariners safely navigate their vessels around coasts, islands, rivers and estuaries. During the first decade of the 20th century mariners navigating the Firth of Forth were concerned that during bad weather the lights on the Isle of May and Inchkeith Island were not visible and as Elie Ness was a rock headland it would make sense to build a lighthouse there so that vessels would not come to grief on the rocks and reefs of the headland.

The Northern Lighthouse Board is the General Lighthouse Authority for Scotland and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1796 as the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses. Its engineer in 1908 was David Alan Stevenson, grandson of Robert Stevenson, who built the Bell Rock Lighthouse and many great lighthouses around Scotland and cousin of the great Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson. Built by James Lawrie Builders, Anstruther, the lighthouse went into service 1st October 1908. With the light evenings as we head towards the Summer Solstice, take advantage and get out and enjoy the wonderful sunsets that bathe the Kingdom of Fife.

 

 

 

Bunnet Stane (Bonnet Stone) – Near Gateside

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I have been out and about again exploring the Kingdom of Fife. A wee gem of a place to visit is Bonnet Stane, or Bonnet Stone. Near the base of the north facing escarpment of the West Lomond Hill in the Lomond Hills Regional Park and above the village of Gateside sits a most interesting weathered rock outcrop.

This interesting mushroom/men’s cap shaped rock is a wind sculpted feature made of “calciferous” sandstone. This feature is 6m long, 3m wide and 1m thick. At the base of this outcrop on the west side is a small cave known as the “Maiden Bower”. Folklore tells of a love affair of a local girl and the son of a rival family, who met at the cave. The girl’s father’s men killed the man and the girl lived as a hermit in the cave. However it is most likely an early 19th century bothy lived in by a shepherd. The inside walls show signs of where shelves and partitions would have been and remains of a metal fire sit in one corner.

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It is an easy uphill walk, up farm tracks and grass fields to the stane. Well worth a visit. Fife is rich geologically. There are many interesting geological features to be seen in the Kingdom. I will be sharing some of them with you.

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