Abertay Bar to Tentsmuir – Section 10 | Day 3

The crew from St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club will row north to rendezvous with the Broughty Ferry crew rowing from Arbroath. To take advantage of the tidal stream we would be rowing a couple of hours before high tide. Well, as we are ‘virtual’ we might as well have everything in our favour!

Sandbanks to avoid
Having changed crew on the beach adjacent to the Forestry Commission car park in Tentsmuir, the St Andrews crew will meet the Broughty Ferry boats once they are south of the ‘Abertay Bar.’ As there is no opportunity for a boat to be launched or recovered until St Andrews, rather than turn back, Broughty Ferry and St Andrews will row in company until the baton handover at St Andrews’ East Sands.

The coastline off Tentsmuir is affected by longshore drift which has caused sandbanks to be deposited well beyond the tideline; the cox will be keeping a good eye out for exposed banks and surf above those that are just covered. Running aground would cause few problems, the crew could just push the boat off and move further seaward. There is little chance of damaging the boat, unless the boat hits an unexploded practise bomb – an extremely unlikely event as the bombing range was closed not long after the end of WW2!

The icehouse looking seaward, once on the shoreline but now 400m from it
Should conditions have been unfavourable to negotiate the ‘Bar’, the baton would have been walked, run or cycled along one of the many tracks through Tentsmuir Forest. There is evidence that there has been human activity in the area for over 10,000 years. In its time it has been home to hunter gatherers and a royal hunting forest; and, when a moor, a seasonal grazing area. Whilst there, the herdsmen would live in tents, giving rise to its current name! Salmon fishing with fixed nets set off the coast was an important industry. With the arrival of the railway that ran from Leuchars to Tayport, an icehouse was built adjacent to the shore in 1855. The icehouse still exists but it is now about 400 meters from the shore line! The area is now forested and provides ample opportunity for recreation.

Sycamore
As the row continues southwards, there is the possibility that aircraft will fly low over the boats, arriving or departing Leuchars airfield. The base became RAF Leuchars in 1920, although as early as 1911 military balloons were operated from the site. In its time, it has been home to Navy fighter aircraft and maritime aircraft of Coastal Command. During the Cold War, it was home to RAF fighter aircraft such as the Lightening, Phantom, Tornado and for a short time, the Typhoon. From 1954 to 1993, RAF Rescue helicopters were operated from the base; Sycamore, Whirlwind and Wessex. After the loss of the Broughty Ferry Lifeboat as she responded to the distress of the North Carr Lightship, it was a Sycamore helicopter that eventually recovered the ship’s crew when the storm abated. Although now an Army base, the St Andrews University Air Squadron still operates and flies from the airfield, which also remains fully operational for any visiting or diverting aircraft.

Although the actual row would continue on to St Andrews, this ‘virtual’ row gives the opportunity to have a rest and continue tomorrow!