Castle Sands has been a long time favorite hang-out for St. Andrews students. The beach was, until recently, the annual host to the May Dip and has been a haven for Bonfire Night celebrations. Last May saw the beach closed off due to a landslide. Despite claims that it was temporary, the beach remains out of bounds.
The landslide, which caused concern for public safety, is not as bad as it sounds. The landslide was fairly small, despite what one might think, but that is not the concern. According Fife Beach & Coastal Officer Robbie Blyth, the collapse occurred too close to the entrance for comfort, saying, “The only entry and exit onto and off the beach is within the area of concern… We therefore had no option but to close the area.”
Down on the beach, nothing has been cleaned up or moved, completely unchanged from the day of the accident, which Fife Council decided was caused by heavy rainfall.
In an interview with The Courier shortly after the incident, Blyth stated “We took the decision in the interests of public safety, and apologize for the inconvenience caused… We will now work together with other organizations to find a long-term solution.” However, it has now been five months since the beach was closed.
Blyth has since confirmed that a “feasibility study” is being carried out by the Road Services, which will determine whether or not the area is problematic and will require further closure. Prior to the closing of the beach, there had been an increase in graffiti on parts of the castle – its lack of removal has led to some complaints. Blyth has stated that as soon as the feasibility report has determined that the area is safe, the graffiti will be removed.
While a landslide could mean that other beaches in St. Andrews could be facing structural concerns, a spokeswoman for Fife Council stressed that the West Sands, Bruce Embankment and East Sands are not affected, hence why they have not been similarly closed off. As a result, last year’s May Dip was held on East Sands, a move which was greatly received due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of traffic, a concern for Castle Sands. The move also garnered support of the local police, who regularly have to contend with some issue or another due to the event.
In a previous instance in 2008, Castle Sands had been closed after a significant slide of grass and soil, although the beach enjoyed only a brief isolation before being re-opened shortly afterwards. For the moment, St Andrews students may have lost an old favourite haunt, but at least the closure has encouraged the use of other, arguably safer, areas of the town.