Tag Archives: John Buchan

Kincaple and Kirkcaple

 

If you travel on the A91 road in Fife from Cupar to St Andrews, you see signs for Kincaple.  My own first journey on this route many years ago brought back to mind a story (or an excerpt of one) which I had once read in school : written by John Buchan, and entitled “On Kincaple Sands”.

What I remembered of the plot might be familiar to readers of Buchan or his contemporaries : of a group of boys exploring on a beach one evening and intruding on the nefarious goings-on of some suspicious characters, at least one of whom is of foreign-looking appearance.

A recent trip to the area made me rummage again online for the story and I found it : the first chapter of Buchan’s Prester John, a novel of heroism and adventure, set mostly in colonial Africa, where probably some of the themes and language might be thought to be a little, shall we say, old-fashioned. In fact, my memory of what I had read was flawed : the location of the narrator’s adventure is Kirkcaple, not Kincaple. However, since Buchan describes his location as one which “looks squarely out on the North Sea”,  it is surely not outwith the bounds of possibility that a writer who grew up on the east coast of Scotland might have known Kincaple and modified a place name he was familiar with?

The countryside and beaches of the area are still easy to imagine as an adventure playground of past youth while many   buildings recall Buchan’s Victorian/Edwardian era of empire-building and self-confidence.

 

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St Andrews town and bay.

 

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Some of the ruins of St Andrews’ pre-Reformation cathedral.

 

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Another view of St Andrews cathedral.

 

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A typical example of architecture from the fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife.

 

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St Monans Parish Church.

 

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A  building near the harbour in Pittenweem.

 

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