Research for a book on narrow gauge railways took me to Tentsmuir Point the other day, on a quest to find the remains of an old wartime wagon revealed by the shifting sands.
Setting off from the Fife town of Tayport, I soon encountered Second World War relics in the form of tank traps. As part of Tentmuir Coastal Defences, scores of these sturdy concrete blocks were manufactured by Polish soldiers in 1941 and placed in a line along the high water mark. This stretches from Tayport round the point although thanks to the shifting landscape and the gradual expansion of the coastline seaward many of the blocks now sit some distance inland from the water.
Close to Tayport I passed the derelict compound of a former meteorological station originally linked to RAF Leuchars and two pillboxes that cast a heavy stare over the estuary of the River Tay.
The line of tank traps extends east along the beach from here towards Tentsmuir Point and I followed it dutifully over the sand to an information board heralding my entry into Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve. While the main path continues east towards the sea, I opted to bear right and follow the block line south. Along the way I passed a couple of gun emplacements, the sand slowly filtering into and filling their dark interiors.
The line of blocks eventually ended, so I set a course for an obvious wartime landmark, a green prefabricated corrugated iron hut (known as Green Hut) mounted on concrete legs.
A short walk inland from here I found the railway bogie, mounted on a plinth. The 2ft gauge wagon – along with sections of rail and corrugated iron sheets used to mould the tank traps – was discovered by a walker after the beach was eroded by winter storms. It is believed that temporary railway tracks were laid to convey materials used during the making of the blocks and the track and wagons were simply abandoned after the war.
For a walk around Tentsmuir Point click here.