Early this month, tragedy struck at the ruins of Slains Castle, formerly the seat of the Chiefs of Clan Hay.
15 year old Cameron Smithies, from nearby Cruden Bay, was killed when he slipped and fell an estimated 80 feet on the cliffs by the castle. The Peterhead lifeboat and coastguards from Cruden Bay and Aberdeen were despatched to the scene of the accident, but Cameron’s location on a treacherous cliff ledge meant that he could be neither brought to the clifftop nor lowered to the lifeboat. Consequently a helicopter was summoned from the Royal Air Force base at Lossiemouth, which transported him to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Despite the best efforts of the rescue services and medical staff, Cameron sadly died from his injuries the next day.
Cameron was a popular and promising young man and his death has clearly devastated his family, his school friends at Ellon Academy, and his community at Cruden Bay.
Over the years, there have been many such accidents on these cliffs. This is a very unforgiving coastline where the cliffs are sheer, and the grassy slopes above them are deceptively slippery, due to being constantly sprayed with salt water.
The Clan Hay Society encourages all Hays to visit Slains and enjoy the castle. However, we urge all Clan Hay members planning a visit this summer to bear in mind how very dangerous these cliffs are and to take extra care so that this tragedy is not repeated.