Day 7 fell onto the 31st of July – five years since Jo and I got married. I’m so blessed to be married to Jo – she’s an incredible woman! The first five years have really flown by; time flies when you’re having fun. It’s such a beautiful privilege and honour to share in the adventure of life with her, and I could write whole reams about how much I love her. I love you, Joey!
To celebrate our anniversary, we left the family and went exploring on our own. We’d recently been reading a fantastic book called “Tiny Islands” by Dixe Wills (find out more at the author’s website or grab a copy from Amazon) and had decided to follow in the footsteps of the author and explore an island featured in the book.
Inchmahome Island sits in Scotland’s only lake (The rest being referred to as lochs) – the lake of Menteith, and is home to a priory that dates from 1238. Our destination!
The adventure to the island begins with a short ride in a small boat – here’s Jo aboard the Earl of Menteith…a grand name for a 12 person motorboat.
The water was reflecting the steely grey sky, and we made gentle progress across the lake. The skipper (Martin from Historic Scotland) told us that when the lake freezes in winter, thousands of people come to play curling. That must be a sight! On this day, there was no ice – but the water was still cold.
After a brief seven minute voyage, you arrive at a short stone pier reaching out into the lake, from where you arrive onto a beautiful and peaceful place. Ruined stonework, vibrant green grass and old trees. The priory on Inchmahome really does have a special atmosphere; it’s just so peaceful here, and the ruins are grand but not imposing.
I really love this kind of ruin, with views through arches to more arches and walls beyond.
This arch into the church framed the lake and distant shoreline perfectly.
The ruins of the priory are well preserved, with the main church shell being a beautiful sheltered place; lots of the arches still stand. Elsewhere, low stone walls hint at the buildings that once stood there. The walls were dotted with these tiny little ferns, which were amazingly vibrantly green.
We headed back towards the edge of the island to walk the path around its perimeter, pausing at the jetty to take in the view.
Despite being a lake, the wind was pushing up little waves which lapped at the shore. The islands ancient trees grew right up to the edge of the water, and the island seemed to be reaching out over it.
Further round the island, we came across Queen Mary’s Bower (Mary Queen of Scots, no less), who spent a few weeks here, aged four. In that time she managed to plant a bower of boxwood trees – which is astonishing! They were replanted by the Victorians, however – so these trees aren’t the same as the ones that Mary planted.
Elsewhere on the island there were some majestic and ancient sweet chestnut trees, twisted and warped by the wet soil. They were huge and magnificent!
In the base of one of them, there were handful of tiny little mushrooms – these were only a few millimeters tall.
The path wound around the edge of the island, and on one side there was a huge and twisted old oak tree. In the bark, a heart shaped knot. Appropriate given that we were there for an anniversary!
Eventually the path led back to the priory – I captured this shot through the processional door to the aisle beyond.
Leaving the island meant another short voyage. The skipper was a friendly man called Martin – he was great. Here he is, keeping a weather eye on the horizon.
The rest of the day involved a nice lunch, a drive though some lovely Scottish countryside and a relaxing evening back at the house. All in all a lovely day!
If you get a chance to visit Inchmahome, you should – it’s a beautiful place: find out more.