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To Scotland's secret bunker

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Tuesday 20 September, to Scotland's secret bunker

Gate in BurntislandUnfortunately we can only stay one night in this hotel so last night we made a reservation some place elsewhere for tonight, our last evening in Scotland this year. After breakfast, which is much less delicious than at Iain and Cathy, we first go to the coast on the north side of the Forth of Firth, a long sea arm that goes deep into the country until Stirling. In Burntisland, a real harbor town, we make our first stop and walk around. A gate and old city wall indicate where the boundaries of the town once were.
Castle Ravenscraig Castle RavenscraigIn 2000, 16 years ago, we were in this area for the last time and then we did take just a handfull of photos, so this time we have to do better. At Kirkcaldy we visit Ravenscraig park which contains the ruin of the castle with the same name. It was once owned by one of the most powerful women in Scottish history, Queen Mary of Guelders, who reigned for their son after the death of her husband James II. It is a massive castle with the latest gadgets in artillery, in 1460 then, when it was built.
St. Serf's Old Parish Church, Dysart Nice house in Coaltown or WemyssWe drive along the coast from village to village and see nice buildings here and there. Well, they are vereywhere in Scotland. In that respect, the country is a treasure box of old architecture. It is a good thing that I am not rich because I would buy half of Scotland, so often I fall in love with a beautiful house! They must of course be nicely situated and not exactly on the corner of a triple jump where a drunken Scotch can drive into your house.
Taking a break in Lower Largo The station inn, Lower LargoIn Lower Largo we take a break in the harbor. Here in 1676 Alexander Selkirk was born who spent more than 4 years on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific after being thrown off the boat by his captain. He was the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. There is even a signpost in the direction of the Juan Fernandez islands, about 12,000 kilometers away.
The Auld Kirk, St Monans Street in CrailFurther along the coast we arrive in St. Monans where we visit the Auld church and the cemetery with impressive gravestones. The holy Monance, who was murdered here in 875 by invading Danes, would be buried inside the church although it was only built centuries later. There is also a ghost living in the church, Sir David Leslie of Newark, who died in the 17th century.
Cottage in Crail Unfortunately, private property, CrailFrom St. Monan we continue our way along the coast to Crail. This is also a port town and it is already very old but most of the restored houses are from the 17th to the 19th century. In the 14th century Robert de Bruce allowed the town to hold a Sunday market but that was a thorn in the eye of Protestant church leader John Knox, leader of the Reformation in Scotland, and during a sermon in Crail he condemned the fishermen of the region because they worked on Sunday. No idea if they paid any attention. We find Crail an attractive place to walk through.
Scotland's Secret Bunker Scotland's Secret BunkerWe drive to Craighead, the tip of the peninsula and then into the interior. Soon we see signs that refer to Scotland's secret bunker and we are curious about that. We arrive at a normal Scottish house with military equipment around it. When we have purchased an entrance ticket, we have to go through a 150-meter long corridor that runs downwards. Thick walls and thick doors must protect the underground complex. Until the end of the cold war this was an extremely secret base.
Scotland's Secret Bunker Scotland's Secret BunkerIn the fifties, Russian aircraft were followed here on radar, but later it became a command center where the top people from Scotland had to be placed when under a nuclear threat and from which the country had to be governed after a nuclear attack. If there should still be a country... It's just creepy to see spaces that are still as they were in the 70s: dormitories, computer rooms, a ward, gas masks everywhere and there was even a chapel.
Scotland's Secret Bunker Scotland's Secret BunkerGuides with survival tips and old-fashioned equipment now seem almost laughable, but at the time the government was very serious about these matters. There is also a room furnished by the anti-nuclear movement, which includes all (known) locations in Scotland where nuclear material is present. Although we are strongly anti-war and want to have nothing to do with weapons, it is still a very impressive place to visit, if only to become aware of how seriously governments were dealing with this. A must for anyone who visits the neighbourhood.
Scotstarvit tower at Graigrothie Balvaird castleOn the way back we pass two tower houses, the Scotstarvit Tower that is still largely intact and Balvaird castle, both from the 16th century. After our long visit to the secret bunker we do not feel like visiting them and look for a restaurant where we can eat something. And then to the Green hotel in Kinross at Loch Leven for our last night. Tomorrow we will take the boat back to the Netherlands, too bad, such a holiday can never last long enough.


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