Benches with a message

Inverewe benchThis month, Jude’s Bench Series is looking for benches with a message, of which we spotted several while on holiday. This one, for example, is at Inverewe, though I defy you to read the inscription from the picture. Even in close up, it’s hard to decipher.Inverewe bench Inverewe bench Inverewe bench Don’t ask me about the Gaelic, but I think the English says “The clear, fresh air in a place so peaceful invites us anew to the shores of Loch Ewe”.

The next one is near Smoo Cave. Much easier to read! Bench near Smoo Cave At Broch of Gurness, on Orkney, we came across this lovely memorial to Dr Olaf Cuthbert: “I leave few footprints on the sand for stormy seas to wash away. I take with me the breadth of sky and seas of unimaginable blue”.

Finally, another memorial, this time to Ronnie Johnson, fisherman of Eshaness in Shetland.

I have one more bench from Shetland, but I’ll keep that for next time.

Inverewe and around

Walled garden at Inverewe
Walled garden at Inverewe

Highland scenery can sometimes be bleak – but this place is always a riot of colour. Inverewe Garden was first planted on the banks of Loch Ewe by Osgood McKenzie in the 1860s – he collected plants from all over the world for his Walled Garden which, by the time he died in 1922, was surrounded by a hundred acres of woodland. Today, it’s run by the National Trust for Scotland – and the walled garden is still the most spectacular part of it. Here are a few more images from our stroll round it:

Heading out of the walled garden, Inverewe House comes into view. (This is not Mackenzie’s original house which was destroyed by fire in 1914.)

Behind the house, a multitude of paths criss-cross the headland. I don’t think we missed any! Here’s some of what we saw:

Finally, we checked out the Wollem Pine, one of the world’s rarest trees before heading to the on-site restaurant for lunch. This was the only part of Inverewe I could fault – the food was no better than ok and the staff couldn’t cope with queues. Next time, I’d walk down to the village of Poolewe which had some nice-looking pubs and cafés, thereby also avoiding the coach tours.

After lunch, we went for a walk through the pinewoods on the hill behind the gardens.

Finally, before leaving Inverewe we came across this monument to a Gaelic bard.

But was that us finished? Not at all! Two more walks to fit in before the afternoon was over. Driving up the other side of Loch Ewe we stopped at Firemore Sands. There’s a small crofting community here – the opposite of the clearance villages we visited further north. People evicted from further inland to make way for sheep were settled here. The name in Gaelic is Am Faithir Mòr – the big shore-land. This is an absolutely beautiful beach and we spent ages walking from one end to the other and back.

Firemore’s heavy anti-aircraft battery protected the entrance to Loch Ewe where the Arctic convoys gathered in the Second World War. Driving further on, to the end of the peninsula, we found a memorial to the convoys and remains of the wartime command post.

Arctic Convoy Memorial
Arctic Convoy Memorial
Arctic Convoy Memorial
Arctic Convoy Memorial

Climbing a small hill gave a good view of the site and its beautiful coastline.

So an action packed day, after which we returned to our hotel for dinner and the last night of our holiday. I hope those who have followed me throughout have enjoyed the tour of Shetland, Orkney and the North of Scotland – and maybe you’ll visit some day?

I’m linking this post to Jo’s Monday Walks. She has a bumper crop this week from all over the world, so please take a look.

Bench series: September

High Viewpoint, Inverewe
High Viewpoint, Inverewe

Having failed dismally to find anything for Jude’s colourful benches challenge last month, I knew I’d have better luck with September’s – metal benches. The High Viewpoint at Inverewe Gardens in Wester Ross has two fairly nondescript specimens – but the view makes up for their lack of attractiveness!

High Viewpoint, Inverewe
High Viewpoint, Inverewe

The photograph below wasn’t taken for the bench at all, but for the mural behind it. That’s the wall of the ticket office at Dirleton Castle – if you zoom in, you can read the notice at the right hand side:

The children of Dirleton Primary School’s 100 year wall painting of the village and castle.

Bench at Dirleton Castle
Bench at Dirleton Castle

And the bench is metal. Result! For more metal benches, visit Jude at Travel Words.