Ruthven Barracks: Gordon Mackie 1944 – 2003

Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie in Scotland is an atmospheric ruin, the buildings open to the sky.  I always enjoy visiting this spot and thinking about its place in Scottish history.  Built on a prominent mound in the valley of the river Spey in the early 1700s, the barracks were part of the planning to maintain order in Scotland after the uprising of 1715.  Stand on the site of the barracks and you have a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

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Ruthven Barracks

After the Battle of Culloden, Jacobite survivors gathered at Ruthven Barracks and heard that the rising had collapsed and Bonnie Prince Charlie was fleeing Scotland.  The Jacobites set fire to the barracks as they left.

On our last visit to Ruthven Barracks we walked up to the ruins from the car park and I noticed this memorial bench to Gordon Mackie.  The bench is the perfect place to sit and contemplate the layout of the buildings that remain at Ruthven with their mountain backdrop.  The plaque describes this as “Gordon’s View” and invites anyone to enjoy it.  Thank you Gordon Mackie!

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GORDON MACKIE 1944 – 2003 May all who rest here enjoy Gordon’s View


Lochranza: Paul Johnstone 1956 – 2016

The ruined castle on its grassy promontory and the steep slopes of the mountains make Lochranza one of the most spectacularly sited villages on Arran.  The sheltered valley follows the river down to the sea where seals and waders can be spotted.  Walk around the coast and you will find a collection of memorial benches.  The weather was as good as it gets when we were there and we saw Arran at its best.

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Looking across to Lochranza village

This memorial bench is placed perfectly to give anyone who chooses to rest on its slats a wonderful view across the loch to the village of Lochranza.  The bench remembers Paul Johnstone who died at the young age of 63 or 64.  The inscription says that he is, ‘Forever in our hearts’ and ‘Loved and remembered everyday.’

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Treasured memories of Paul Johnstone 1956 – 2016 Forever in our hearts you will stay Loved and remembered everyday



Saltaire: Shelley-Marie Armitage 22.9.78 – 26.4.2010

The West Yorkshire village of Saltaire is a favourite place to visit.  The elegant old mill has been restored and has lovely cafes and interesting shops and the rows of terraced streets are attractive.  On this visit, after the cafe, we crossed the canal and the River Aire into Roberts Park before walking up to Shipley Glen.  In a fantastic position overlooking the river, the weir and Salt’s Mill I found this moving memorial bench to Shelley-Marie Armitage.


Overlooking the River Aire

Shelley-Marie Armitage died tragically at the age of just 31 years.  Along with Susan Rushworth and Suzanne Marguerite Blamires, Shelley-Marie Armitage was murdered in 2010.  The brutal killer who took the life of these three women was arrested and is now in prison.  Shelley-Marie Armitage’s family will, of course, never forget her and this beautifully positioned memorial bench with its simple and poignant quote will touch the hearts of others.  I sat with Shelley-Marie Armitage looking over the River Aire for a while lost in thought.  When you visit Saltaire perhaps you can do the same.

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“Rest With Me a While” In Loving Memory of Shelley-Marie Armitage 22.9.778 – 26.4.2010

Hoylake: William Joseph Barr 14th March 1921 – 30 May 2014 & Jim Barr 5th December 1946- 31st July 2017

The Wirral peninsular on a wintery day is a fantastic place for a walk.  The beach here gives wide open views across Liverpool Bay to the Irish Sea and when you get too cold there are plenty of cafes to warm up in.  We walked from Hoylake round the beach to West Kirby, returning to Hoylake on the cycle route.  Although it was cold it was fine and plenty of other people were out getting some fresh air in this lovely area.

There is no lake at Hoylake today but Hoyle Lake, as it was known, was a sheltered anchorage in the 17th century on the sailing route into Liverpool.  This has now silted up and the name Hoylake came into use for the village that was formerly known as Hoose.

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Hoylake seafront

This bench, with two memorial plaques, stood out from the many memorial benches in this lovely area.

Jim Barr was clearly a firefighter, as the poem on his plaque remembers, ‘Firefighters truly never die …’  Donations at his funeral went to the Fire Brigade Benevolent Fund and in his obituary, Jim Barr was described as, ‘A true gentleman from beginning to end.’  Jim Barr died a few years after William Joseph Barr, who I can only presume is a relative.

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Jim Barr 5th December 1946 – 31st July 2017 Firefighters truly never die, Their memory burns forever in the hearts of those they have loved.  In Loving Memory WILLIAM JOSEPH BARR 14TH March 1921 0 30 May 2014 LOVE ALWAYS FROM YOUR FAMILY “REST A WHILE AND ENJOY THE VIEW”

Dodd, Lake District: Ruth Day 1948 – 2002

The view from Dodd, in the shadow of Skiddaw, is well worth the easy 5 km round trip from the Old Sawmill Tearoom car park.  The path takes you on tracks and paths through Dodd Wood, opening out near the summit to provide views over Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite Lake, Newlands Valley, the Solway coast and beyond.  Although this is a small fell that you might think is perfect for a dull day when the bigger fells are shrouded in cloud, it is really a shame not to enjoy this expansive and easily attained view in the sunshine.

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The view over Newland Valley

The day we walked up to the top of Dodd the summit was sprinkled in snow.  The sun was shining and, as it was mid-week, we had the hill to ourselves.  Sitting on a memorial bench enjoying the spectacular view was perfect.

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In Memory of Ruth Day 1948 – 2002 who loved walking these fells.  ‘We all look at nature too much, and live with her too little’ Oscar Wilde

I like to think Ruth Day would have enjoyed such a glorious day on the fells too and she accompanied us in one way as we sat on the bench erected in memory of her.  I always stop and think for a little longer when I notice someone died young and Ruth Day was only in her 50s when she died.  I think about the years of life the person didn’t get to live and the people who loved them and are left missing a partner, friend or family member.

This memorial bench is all about Ruth Day, the passing walker is given no clue about who erected the bench in her memory.  The quote from Oscar Wilde is beautifully appropriate for the person the memorial describes and for the place.  The quote comes from De Profundis, a long letter Oscar Wilde wrote while in jail in 1897.  The letter was to his lover Alfred Douglas, a letter Oscar Wilde was not allowed to post from jail.

It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much, and live with her too little. I discern great sanity in the Greek attitude. They never chattered about sunsets, or discussed whether the shadows on the grass were really mauve or not. But they saw that the sea was for the swimmer, and the sand for the feet of the runner. They loved the trees for the shadow that they cast, and the forest for its silence at noon.

I hope that Ruth Day had the opportunity to live easily with nature.

Lochranza: Joyce C. Orr 3rd April 2013

Lochranza Castle is superbly set on a grassy spit of land that juts out in to the sea loch.  The castle was rebuilt in the 16th century but there are remnants of the original castle from a few hundred years earlier.  Legend has it that Robert the Bruce landed at Lochranza in 1306 from Ireland at the start of his claim to the Scottish throne and it is known that his grandson came to own the castle in 1371 when he became King Robert II of Scotland, who used it primarily as a hunting lodge.   In the 15th century it was used as a base for James IV and later it was occupied by James VI and Cromwell’s troops.

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Lochranza, in the north of the Isle of Arran, was the place I loved most on our trip to the Isle of Arran and it is not surprising that other people love it so much.  This beautifully positioned bench is dedicated to the memory of Joyce C Orr.  Sitting on the bench you are overlooking a stunning view and I could sit here for a long time watching the birds, the boats and the sea.

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THIS BENCH IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF Joyce C. Orr Died 3rd April 2013 A Loving and Much Loved wife to Gavin, Mum to Alison and Nana to Stuart and Christopher “SHE LOVED THIS PLACE”

Joyce C Orr lived nearby in Ayr, on the mainland of Scotland and just a short ferry trip from the Isle of Arran.  Joyce C Orr had been treated in Ayrshire Hospice and was a member of the St Columba Church in Ayr and Joyce C Orr and her family are remembered in notices from the church.  On Saturday 21 September 2013 a concert was held at Ayrshire Hospice in memory of Joyce Orr, with music by Cantanti, a local vocal ensemble.

Salford, Agecroft Cemetery: Kelly & Ronnie Williams April 2013

Salford’s Agecroft Cemetery, opened in 1903 and was originally called the Northern Cemetery.  The cemetery was created due to concern that Weaste Cemetery would soon be at capacity.  The cemetery is on the banks of the river Irwell and an embankment was included in the design to prevent flooding.  A more comprehensive history of the cemetery can be found here.

We last visited around Christmas when many of the graves at Agecroft Cemetery are brightened with flowers, candles, Christmas cards and other small gifts.  I always like to walk and take a look around Salford’s cemeteries at this time of year, you get a real sense of a community that remembers.


Agecroft Cemetery

There are many memorial benches at Agecroft Cemetery but this particular one caught my eye because of the sentiment on the plaque, the family are keeping memories alive and tell us ‘You are not forgotten’ because they reminisce ‘And speak of you often.’



Kelly and Ronnie Williams are reunited on this bench.  I was intrigued by the words, ‘The Warhorse.’  Presumably this is a nickname and suggests someone with a strong character, someone with a long experience of battling through life, working hard to the end and succeeding.