Thursday, September 20, 2007

Before Torchwood ... Troywood!

Under a farmhouse in Fife, not too far from St Andrews, lies the Secret Bunker. Unlike the sandtraps at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, this was not something you were going to bash your way out of with a mashie-niblick.

In operation for four decades, you can now pay a leisurely visit to Troywood's underground complex. Repurposed several times over from a radar station to a regional defence corps HQ, and finally as the home of a Scottish government in the event of a nuclear attack, it's packed with machines and memorabilia from all these phases.

Bunker bunk rooms

Skeleton staff
One of the best aspects of the base is the sound design: wherever you go, there is recreated drone of footsteps and conversation, a background babble adding to the claustrophobic intensity of the life down here.

Nuclear Command Control Centre

Ticker-tape and newsreel.

RAF Operations Room: Thunderbirds are go!

Messroom is now cafeteria

The layers of tungsten and concrete encasing the centre are completely ineffective for cyber-security matters. There are some internet terminals in the cafeteria, freely available to visitors. Unfortunately I quickly noticed that my terminal had been locked down by the administrator after a bunch of spyware programs like Hotbar had been installed.

Armed with audio-guide

Drove on to St Andrews town and pottered about according to the dictates of the weather. Didn't go back to the castle ruins that we went through in 2005.

Stopped in at Crail, a little south of St Andrews, and then continued on around the Fife coastline through Anstruther (pronounced 'Enster') & Cellardyke, Pittenweem, and Kilconquhar (pronounced ' Kinneuchar', birthplace of my ancestor Alison Wood).

Harbour Gallery & Tearoom

En route to the bunker, we drove through Largo, birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, the shipwrecked sailor who was the basis for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. I followed a signpost promising a statue memorial, which took me down to Lower Largo and the Crusoe Hotel (left), but no sign of statue nor of the Key Largo golf course where Lauren Bacall scored a bogey.

Selkirk once sailed with the English buccaneer William Dampier. It's just as well he wasn't restricted to using a pirate's keyboard when composing help messages on his island stay:

Another milekmstone passed just after I crossed the Forth Bridge on the way back to Edinburgh.

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