The village of Kildonan lies on the south coast of the island of Arran in Scotland. Kildonan has a long and beautiful beach and on a clear day if you look out to sea you will spot the island of Pladda (from the Norse for flat isle) and the more prominent Ailsa Crag. The houses of the village are strung out along the coast, as is often the way in Scotland.
It was a murky day when we arrived in Kildonan. Undaunted we took a stroll around the village and found this handsome memorial bench not far from where the coastguard lookout once was. The coastguard station closed in 1981 but the old coastguard house still stands. On a clear day the bench has spectacular views. We stayed at the campsite and the following morning we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine and could enjoy that view with our breakfast.
There is a view over the bay at Kildonan in better weather
In the Arran Banner I found out a little bit more about James Potts from his grandchildren. The paper’s Where’s Archie feature had a photograph of the black Labrador, Archie, next to this bench and it was quickly recognised. One grandchild told the paper, ‘James (wee Jimmy as he was known) was the senior coastguard at Kildonan until he retired to Whiting Bay in 1975. The Hagan and Kinloch grandchildren had the bench made at Kiscadale Forge in 1994 and it was designed by their grandson David Hagan.’ Another responded, ‘I was sat on it [this memorial bench] when we were up for a long weekend last week. It’s dedicated to my grandparents Meg and Jimmy Potts who lived up the road at the Coastguard Station for 20 years.’
IN MEMORY OF MARGARET & JAMES POTTS I.S.M. COASTGUARD KILDONAN 1955 – 1975 THIS SEAT WAS DEDICATED TO THEM BY THEIR GRANDCHILDREN 1994
Kiscadale Forge, that created this unusual and lovely bench, is based on Arran. The design includes the letters J and M for Margaret and James and gives the bench a moving and personal touch.
Roche Colombe is a stunning looking hill in the Drôme department in south-eastern France. The Drôme flows from the Alps through a beautiful valley until it reaches the mighty Rhône. North of Provence, the Drôme department is just as beautiful but quieter and with plenty of campsites. Walk or cycle around this area and you will stumble upon tidy rows of vines, colourful fields of lavender and quaint medieval villages. You can hop along the river staying at a different campsite every night and we certainly tried out many of them as we slowly explored this fantastic area that has so much to offer.
The view from Roche Colombe near Saou in France
From the attractive village of Saou we set off up the 886-metre high Roche Colombe on a way-marked route. Roche Colombe is one of the hills in the dramatic Synclinal de Saou where the limestone layers have shifted to a 45⁰ angle. The rocky slopes of the mountain end with a sheer high cliff. Sections of the path require a bit of a scramble but the hike up Roche Colombe is breathtaking and worthwhile. At the summit I sat on this bench and took in the spectacular views along the length of the Drôme Valley.
France does not have the same tradition of erecting memorial benches that we have in the UK and I don’t feature many from other countries. I decided to photograph this bench on Roche Colombe as it was certainly very much appreciated after all that climbing and, most importantly, it had a plaque.
LE 12 JUIN 1993 Reparation du banc par les amis de AOUSTE / SYE
The plaque says that on 12 June 1993, the bench was repaired by the friends of Aouste sur Sye, a nearby village below Roche Colombe. Thank you!
You can find details of a walk up Roche Colombe here and other walks in the area here.
On a glorious warm summer day there are few better places to be than the Yorkshire Dales. We parked among the bustle at Ribblehead and left the crowds behind walking through the grassland below the slopes of Ingleborough to Great Douk Cave. Hiking back along the slopes of Whernside, a hillside dotted with caves and sink holes, I was focusing on the stunning views to the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct with 24 massive arches.
On a lane I found this moving memorial bench to Sammy Chapman that gives a panoramic view over this wonderful countryside. Sammy Chapman as she was known, or Marjorie Chapman, lived at the remote Scar Top Farm at Chapel le Dale. Sammy Chapman died aged 74 years of age and the Yorkshire Ramblers Club provided members with the details of Sammy Chapman’s funeral. The plaque on the memorial bench gives a personal and thoughtful portrait of Sammy Chapman, the words conjuring up a picture of a loving woman in her farmhouse kitchen generously cooking tasty meals for her family and friends.
SAMMY CHAPMAN 1941 – 2015 ENJOYED HER LAST HAPPY 40 YEARS AT SCAR TOP GREAT HOSTESS, SUPER COOK, WONDERFUL WIFE
There is a lovely footpath that links the stunning Commando Memorial just north of Spean Bridge off the A82 with High Bridge, a ruined bridge that crosses the River Spean. I was walking here in search of the Jacobites as it was across this gorge that the first shots were fired in the Jacobite uprising on 16 August 1745.
The impressive Commando Memorial was built in 1952 to commemorate the soldiers who trained in this area before and during World War Two. The views from the memorial are panoramic and this is a popular halt for visitors.
The made footpath below the memorial was built with funding from Alan Reece and this track makes reaching HIgh Bridge a pleasant experience these days. The path follows some of General Wade’s military road to High Bridge, although this can no longer be crossed.
The view over the river Spean
Follow the path and you will come to this handsome bench with a view over the River Spean gorge commemorating Alan R Reece. Alan R Reece was a lecturer in agricultural engineering at Newcastle University and in the 1980s designed a ‘highly efficient undersea plough’ that helped protect underwater cables. He continued to be based in the north-east and used the wealth his engineering companies accumulated for charitable purposes, including many for education and this footpath. Alan R Reece was an enthusiastic mountaineer and almost completed all the Scottish Munros. He died on December 31 2012 at the age of 85.
Alan R Reece 1927 – 2012 Engineer and Mountaineer