Posts Tagged ‘scenic’

Iona – the Abbey

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Every time I peel an onion, something I do several times most weeks, it reminds me of our stay at Iona. As paying guests of the Iona Community at the Abbey we took our part in the daily chores which kept the place running, and each morning after breakfast I went with the other ‘Otters’ – the work group to which I had been assigned to the kitchen to prepare vegetables. My part in this job seemed always to be one of two or three of us peeling onions – and you need a lot of onions to cook vegetarian meals for around 50 or 60 people.

There are a lot of dodges that people advise to avoid tears when peeling onions, and I think I tried them all. They may help if you are only peeling one or two, but none help if you have a mountain of them to get through. You cry, and crying only makes it worse. Still, I think I preferred it to cleaning the lavatories and washrooms that my partner was assigned to.

The Abbey is essentially a twentieth-century reconstruction carried out by teams of volunteers from the Iona Community after the site with its ruins was gifted to the Church of Scotland by the 8th Duke of Argyll in 1899, with more modern living accommodation built alongside it in a matching external style.

The Duke is still present – in marble, lying beside his wife.

As well as the abbey, alongside it is a small church, the oldest building on Iona (c 1150) with an ancient graveyard where 48 Kings of Scotland were buried. They were joined more recently by Labour leader John Smith; a boulder marks his grave with the message “An Honest Man’s The Noblest Work of God”.

There are ruins of another chapel in the grounds, as well as those of a former Bishop’s House, and splendid views across the sound to Mull, enough to drag me out of bed for a short walk before breakfast (and onions.) And of course there were a number of short religious services, optional but an important part of the experience, though with too much unaccompanied singing for my taste.

More pictures in and around the Abbey from our visit 12 years ago on My London Diary.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


Lumsdale and Matlock

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

We had a day before we left Matlock when we were not looking after grandchildren and went on a walk. I’d been to Lumsdale before on my own at the end of 2018, but Linda hadn’t so we decided to walk up there .

The beginnings of our Industrial revolution were driven by water power, before the age of steam, and valleys like Lumsdale were where it began. The Bentley Brook which runs down the valley is a relatively small stream, but the valley falls quite rapidly and its water flow could be harnessed by a series of mills on its descent.

Importantly, its flow was pretty reliable through the year, and could be maintained at a pretty constant level by damning its flow to build ponds at the top of the valley, two of which are still there, though the top pond above them is now dry.

We climbed gradually up the valley, going past the derelict structures of several mills. This picture is looking down from the top of the falls in the picture above, which was taken from roughly where you can just see a person in a red jacket. There are few places with any guard rails and the rocks were damp and slightly slippery, and I was hanging onto a small tree but still didn’t feel too safe, and had to move back from the edge.

Higher up things seem rather safer, and the flow of the river more a result of man-made activities, including a dam to create a large holding pond. There is a second pond a little higher up the valley, and higher still I photographed the remains of another dam, which burst in 1947 and has not been repaired. There are useful explanatory boards at key points on the extensive site, but it remains for the most part open and unchanged for people to walk around, unlike some other ‘heritage’ sites.

We walked across from Lumsdale to Matlock Bank, stopping for lunch at the Duke of Wellington on the Chesterfield Rd before going down Rockside Steps and past the old tram depot to Bank Rd and down to the river.

It wasn’t a very long walk, but was full of interest, as I hope the pictures at Lumsdale & Matlock on My London Diary show.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.