Wayfarer Column- Bennane Cave was home to independnt Snib Scott

Well here we are again with more tales to entertain you.

It is certainly the right time of year with winter upon us to give time to consider tales of past happenings in this interesting part of the world.

Those who remember the road down the Bennane Head towards Ballantrae will also remember the Bennane Cave which was walled off at the front with a doorway and window completed sometime in the 19th century but to what purpose is unknown. Just behind this wall it is very damp, but towards the back of the cave it is quite dry and has provided a home for a number of passing tramps over the years. One of the earliest known tramps to frequent this cave was a Snib Scott in the 1920’s of whom little is known, but the best known occupant was Henry Ewing Torbet who lived there for twenty years until he died in 1983. As he did not at first divulge his real name he became known as Snib Scott, the name of his predecessor which he himself accepted not wishing his past circumstances to become known. He was a real gentleman, well respected by the locals for whom he did odd jobs giving good value, always refusing cash only accepting such things as food and washing facilities. Cash seemed unimportant to him as he did not even collect his pension when he became entitled to it. Perhaps that may be due to something in his past, he was born in Dundee in 1912 as Henry Ewing Torbet, worked in a local bank until his 48th birthday, when for some unknown reason he decided that enough was enough. He resigned from the bank, left his family and friends to start a new life as a tramp, wandering around Scotland working on farms to earn his keep until he came to the cave in Ballantrae which he made his home. He combed the beach for fire wood and anything else which may be useful to his solitary existence.

Snib or Henry was well liked and when he had not been seen for some days in March 1983 the local policeman called at the cave to find him in a bad way. The local doctor sent him to Heathfield Hospital where a week later he passed away. The Council paid for his funeral and the locals out of respect erected a cairn opposite his cave on which is a plaque stating ‘Henry Ewing Torbet (Snib) of Benane Cave 1912-1983 Respected and Independent’. The cairn is still there looked after by Snib’s admirers and proves that life is full of different characters most of whom are kind gentlemen or ladies who should not be dismissed without thought. See you next week.