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