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Inchmahome Priory and the Lake of Menteith

August 16, 2014

If you want a little time out from the world head to Scotland and take the little boat across the Lake of Menteith to Inchmahome Priory, situated on a beautifully wooded island.

Inchmahome Priory (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Inchmahome Priory (c) John Bainbridge 2014

But take my advice and get the first boat – usually just before ten in the morning. And go on a weekday when its quieter. And if you are going this year bear in mind that the boats finish at the end of the summer.

The Augustinian monastery is now a most picturesque ruin. But the priory and the island remains a place for quiet contemplation, with beautiful views across the Lake to the neighbouring islands and the shores beyond.

Inchmahome Priory (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Inchmahome Priory (c) John Bainbridge 2014

The priory was founded by Walter Comyn in the thirteenth century, though there was an earlier Christian settlement on the island. A four year old Mary Queen of Scots spent three weeks there in sanctuary after the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Pinkie.

There are some fine memorials including an effigy of Earl Walter Stewart and his wife Mary, facing each other in a display of affection. A more modern burial is that of the writer, traveller and politician R.B. Cunninghame Grahame – one of the founders of the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Nationalist Party – who was buried there in 1936.

Inchmahome is a fine place to wander around, or just to sit and relax.

Stewart Memorial Inchmahome Priory (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Stewart Memorial Inchmahome Priory (c) John Bainbridge 2014

I recommend a visit, but, as I said above, get there early.


Walking on Kerrera

August 11, 2014


Thinking back to one of my favourite places. If you get a chance to visit Kerrera please do – well worth the journey!

Originally posted on Over The Hills:

Bar-nan-Boc Bay, Kerrera

Despite many years visiting Oban, I had never taken the five minute ferry ride across to the island of Kerrera. A fortnight ago we did, and it was a revelation. Delightful coast and moorland walking, fantastic views across to the Argyll mainland and out towards several Hebridean islands. Our walk took place on one of the hottest days I have ever known in Scotland. A perfect day for a walk.

Little Horseshoe Bay, Kerrera

We chose to do the southern circuit of the island, from the ferry landing, so that we might see Gylen Castle and the views towards Jura. The walk around the island is on a good track, with reasonable gradients. There are many reminders that Kerrera was once part of the kingdom of Norway. It is not difficult to imagine Viking longships slipping into the quiet coves of this island.

One of the first places you come to, walking…

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Bealach nan Corp – A Highland Corpse Road

August 6, 2014

I am rather fond of walking corpse roads, those ancient tracks along which people long ago carried their dead. There are several famous ones in the Lake District and, of course, the Lych Way across northern Dartmoor.

Bealach nan Corp - (C) John Bainbridge 2014

Bealach nan Corp – (C) John Bainbridge 2014

Finding ourselves back in the Trossachs, we wandered up through the Braes of Balquidder, to Inverlochlarig – passing the house where Rob Roy died. An important path in more ways than one. Dorothy and William Wordsworth, in the company of Coleridge, walked this way from Glen Gyle to visit Balquidder, as did James Hogg. William Wordsworth used the area as an inspiration for his poem “The Solitary Reaper”.

Bealach nan Corpach (c) John Bainbridge 2013

Bealach nan Corpach (c) John Bainbridge 2013

It was a fine, mostly dry day and rather hot, though there was a light shower when we were half way up the glen. We saw no deer, and the birds – apart from Wheatears – were curiously absent.

Some good heights in this area – Ston a Choin (the mountain of the cloven hoof)  – and the mighty pointed peak of Stob Binnein.

Walking the old corpse road is a very pleasant and remote walk, like something out of Kidnapped. We saw no other walkers, except at the start and they were clearly heading for the Munros.

Coming back to Inverlochlahrig there are grand views over Loch Voil, for a moment quite blue in the sun, and then dark as the clouds swept in.

We wandered back down to Balquidder to visit once again the grave of Rob Roy.

Interesting to walk a track he would have known so well.

Rob Roy's Grave (c) John Bainbridge

Rob Roy’s Grave (c) John Bainbridge

Rambling – at a price!

August 4, 2014

I was much amused to see that someone has a used copy of my book Rambling – the Beginner’s Bible on sale at Amazon for the lovely price of £4,391 plus!!!

As I’m not J.K. Rowling I was a bit surprised.

You can get one at the same site for £4.56 or even cheaper on Kindle.

So unless you’re an eccentric millionaire I should hold back on the expensive one.

Walking in the countryside is Britain’s most popular recreation and rambling is the best way to get to know the quieter places of the British Isles. Unlike a lot of outdoor activities, rambling or hiking can be enjoyed by all kinds of people, young and old, those who are fighting fit and not quite so fit. You can go as far and do as much or as little as you choose. Rambling is all about taking time out from our very rushed modern world. An opportunity to walk away from the stress and travails of modern life. For the price of a magazine, Rambling – The Beginner’s Bible gives you a very readable and basic introduction to the whole subject. It suggests places to walk, what to wear and what gear to take, the law concerning public footpaths and bridleways, how to plan a hill walk and a walking tour. It tells you how to combine rambling with other outdoor interests, seeing places that the car driver can only imagine. It concludes with some inspiring accounts of actual rambles in the British Isles – most of them suitable for the new rambler. Although it is aimed at the newcomer to rambling there is much in this book for the more experienced rambler to enjoy. The book is a good introduction to visitors to Britain, who might want to walk. Make this the year that you find your feet – it’s a beautiful countryside out there! John Bainbridge has been a rambler for over fifty years and was recently commended by the Ramblers Association for his many years of voluntary service. Rambling – The Beginner’s Bible draws on John’s experience of country walking to give sound advice to the would-be rambler.

The Great War

August 2, 2014

I have a family interest in the Great War, so cannot pass this 100th anniversary of its start without reflecting on the conflict.

My grandfather Joe Bainbridge fought in the trenches and survived. My great uncle Harry Howl Jeffs was killed just a fortnight before the Armistice.

I am of that generation that grew up knowing veterans of the First World War very well. Not that many would talk of it.

I remember those old gentlemen well. I remember the scars, not all of them visible, that many came home with.

I remember one gent with the most vivid blue scars on his arm. I saw him once – in the 1960s – walking down a street. He didn’t see me. But I watched him as a car backfired. Within an instant he had thrown himself on the ground – all those years later.

I visited the Western Front as a boy. It has haunted me since. One day I would like to go back.

It was, of course, supposed to be the “War to End Wars”.

If only!

Not twenty-two years later my father and uncle had to go off to do it all again.

And would the veterans of the trenches be very thrilled to see again the social injustice being inflicted on their descendants; the food banks, the poor pay for hard workers, the benefit sanctions and people dying because they can’t get medical care?

Perhaps those soldiers of the trenches might ask themselves why they bothered?

And even today people are killing each other in war, and the private firms that own our governments are making vast profits from arms trading.

How little the world has moved on.

Every soldier who died in the trenches has been betrayed.

So this is a good time to reflect.

Because I think the time has long come when Joe Public should refuse to fight and die to bail mediocre and grasping politicians out of a hole.

Our Great British Bake Off

July 31, 2014

Bakes Cakes CoverA selection of 20 delicious recipes for authentic British cakes and bakes. These are vintage-style favourites – the sort you’d buy at a summer fete in an English village. Tried and tested, quick and easy to prepare, why not fill your cake tin with tempting homemade treats?

Recipes Include:
Chocolate Orange Cake
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Welsh Bara Brith
Victoria Sandwich
Double Chocolate Cake
Fruit Cake
Coffee and Walnut Cake
Madeira Cake
Cherry and Almond Cake
Banana Loaf
Fruit Scone Round
White Chocolate Tiffin
Custard Creams
Scottish Shortbread
Apricot and Honey Flapjacks
Chocolate Caramel Shortbread
Rock Cakes
Jammy Dodgers
White Chocolate and Raspberry Slice





The Snettisham Footpath

July 28, 2014

Photo: Looks better like this.......


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