Paul Griffiths, 58, from Hartlepool in County Durham, created his My Favourite Bench page three years ago and now has an incredible 5000 followers. Paul’s passion for benches began when his three boys were young and they used to make an annual family trip to Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales and sit on the same bench to eat fish and chips and enjoy the views. Since then he has taken pictures of benches wherever he has travelled and eventually decided to share his favourites by setting up a website and on social media.
“We used to go to Hawes and at the end of each visit we’d always end up squeezed onto the same bench looking out at the moors,” said Paul, a process technician. “The Bench has a plaque on it that reads ‘I lift up my eye’s to the hills’ Simple words from Psalm 121 but the view from that bench got me thinking of all the benches that we have sat on which also had beautiful views. For years after I would talk about having a website that would show off other peoples’ favourite benches. I now spend hours responding to photographs and stories about peoples’ favourite benches from around the world and I love every minute of it. People tell me now that they can’t walk past a bench now without taking a photograph of it and posting it on Twitter and I know what they’re talking about because it’s so addictive.”
Paul’s favourite two benches are on a walk called the Shawl in Leyburn, Wensleydale. He added: “The views across Wensleydale are beautiful and we like to come here and just sit and enjoy the changing colours with a glass of champagne or just a flask of Yorkshire Tea.”
Other peoples’ favourite benches include David Oxtaby’s at Lunds Tower in North Yorkshire, which he says he likes because it is close to home. “The view overlooking Lothersdale and with the Yorkshire Dales in the background is stunning and the light here changes all the time. It is a quiet place to visit.” he said.
Paul Gibbs said his favourite bench is by the War Memorial at the top of Selworthy Green on the coastal edge of Exmoor in West Somerset. “From the bench the view is looking across Periwinkle Cottage, my home and down to the fields and then open moorland leading up to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor,” he said. “It is a very popular bench, the views, the peace and the sound of birdsong are so relaxing. I often sit there and ponder on whether my great great grandparents loved the view as much as I do. They lived and worked here on the Holnicote Estate with their nine children, including my great grandmother. The Estate is owned and managed by the National Trust and my partner and I are very happy tenants, living and running our business from this iconic and beautiful location.”
Chris Hall’s favourite bench is on Friar’s Crag in Keswick, where there is a view that Victorian art critic John Ruskin called “one of the most beautiful views in Europe.” He said: “Rarely found to be empty on a fine day, the bench is reached in about ten minutes easy walking from Keswick, and from it there are unbroken views down that most beautiful of lakes, Derwent Water. There are views of Walla Crag to the left and Maiden Moor to the right; the ‘jaws’ of Borrowdale can be seen at the far end of the lake. The beautiful islands in the lake can also be seen. This is truly a bench on which to sit and linger and to take in the view at leisure, if it is a fine day that is!”
Beatrice Fleiner, from Switzerland, said her favourite bench was at the University of Zurich. She said: “I certainly have a favourite bench and that's the one at the University of Zurich. I love to sit there for having my lunch, sometimes coffee break but I walk by each day and just love the view and the moment of peace I have sitting there.”