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Yellow Socks, Swifts and Some Psychodelic Electro-Pop

Hello English language learners and friends of Blue Noun Language Hub in Scotland! Today we’re going to take you on a virtual trip up Dumyat (pronounced Dum-eye-at) – one of our local hills.

As our Language School (or Hub as we now call it!) is based in Crieff, we normally blog about the region of Strathearn and Perthshire – where we spend most of our time with our language-learning guests. We want to give you a good taste of our region – and why you might want to learn English in Scotland with us!

However, both Kenny and I  grew up in the Central Belt (which lies just south of Perthshire) and Dumyat is our old stomping ground – although as we met later in life, we’d never actually climbed it together.

Near the start of the trail up Dumyat

Climbing Walls Not Mountains

One other reason to blog about our hill climb is that I’ve just spent the last 14 days isolating. Covid is once more on the rise in Scotland and Young Blue tested positive. I’ve been in the house now for 14 days straight going through various mental states as I firstly worried about her, then climbed the walls as she put her every effort into avoiding the schoolwork I was trying to get her to do.

Fortunately, she has been more or less well throughout, and it’s back to school tomorrow.

There’s always something better to do than schoolwork…

Onwards and Upwards

Dumyat is part of the Ochil Hills, which local people run into one word, Ochils (and you need a bit of flem to pronounce it right). There are popular glen climbs between all the summits, which start at the individual villages of Tillicoultry, Alva and Dollar –  known collectively as the Hillfoots each formerly a prosperous mill town. The villages shelter at the very foot of the hill range: their textile mills once harnessed the power of the streams tumbling down the hills.

Dumyat is the most popular climb in the hill range, partly because it has a very good path up (for novice climbers – no chance of getting lost) and partly because you can drive about halfway up it (from Stirling University, follow signs for Sherrifmuir) and there’s plenty of parking. It’s a relatively gentle climb – many people jog and mountain bike it, but like all hills – it has its dangers. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear and keep yourself safe.  

My own photo (with an ageing effect across it) showing hikers nearing the top of Dumyat. 

We eschewed the upper car park and parked at Logie Kirk. There is an unsignposted woodland trail that winds up the shoulder of the hill and joins the main track about 3/4 of the way up. We had it almost to ourselves.

Kenny guiding us onto the main path with his beacon-like yellow socks

A View From the Top

From the summit, you can see a rolling hillscape leading to higher hills and Highlands of the north of Scotland.  Look south over the Carse of Stirling – a huge low flat area that was once seabed, the Wallace Monument stands proud over the valley. Stirling Castle can be seen in the distance. The River Forth winds snake-like through the carse.

At the top is the basket for a beacon (signal fire) which marked the Queen’s Jubilee, but is now full of stones and reclaimed as a traditional cairn.  There is also a memorial to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
The whisky bonds are warehouses where maturing whisky is stored, pre-duty and VAT (taxes) until it is ready for the market.  

A View Like No Other

What I love most about this region is the light. If you live near or beside the Ochils you will know they have different moods and they never quite look the same twice.

From high up, you can see the shadows of clouds staining villages and land as they pass overhead. You can watch mist and even clouds roll into the valley and obscure the town below.  There’s nothing quite like the light in this part of Scotland.

Light on Dumyat

Want to expand on your virtual trip up Dumyat? There’s a classic children’s storybook that might help. Now from time to time I offend people by recommending books aimed at children to adult English learners. I would never dream of offering Patsy’s Pony Adventure – or somesuch. But I adore fiction, including good children’s fiction – and trust me, this is a right rollicking adventure.

Protagonist Gavin, a Londoner, comes to visit his Aunt and Uncle who live near Stirling, and spies a light blinking on the slope of Dumyat. He is determined to investigate and quickly gets immersed in the landscape, nature, Highlander culture and adventure.  

“I recommend this for any ESL English learner with an English level lower-intermediate and above, who has an interest in Scotland and a love of adventure stories. I’ve reread it as an adult and I still get goosebumps”

 

Ruth, Blue Noun Language Hub English coach.

Return to the Kirk

When we returned to the base of the hill we had a good wander around the graveyard of the old Logie Kirk. It’s a blog subject in its own right. A beautiful shell of a small church surrounded by old graves, including war graves.  The new church is nearby and it’s an attractive building too.

Too swift

Swifts were swooping quite low over the graveyard, catching insects and I spent way too long trying to get a shot of a swift (in focus) over a gravestone (foreground), with the bulky mass of Dumyat in the background.  My dream shot didn’t work (it was going to encapsulate the temporality of human history and the beauty of being alive).

The swifts were just too fast for me to even capture them. I would have been better just shutting my eyes and pointing the camera at random – or setting up a timer. However, when I got home, I did zoom into a photo that had just a speck of swift in it – and realised that I’d captured this incredible movement of the bird changing direction at speed. No credit to the photographer and all credit to my fabulous camera!

swift in flight Logie Kirk by Blue Noun English language school

And finally… some Psychodelic Electro Pop

No dip into Scottish culture with a mountain theme could possibly be complete without a bit of classic Scottish rap – The Shamen‘s, Move Any Mountain

The Shamen, mixed rock guitars, techno and hip-hop rhythms, sampled radio voices, beat machines with rap. This clash of elements was perfectly alien to the mainstream Scottish music scene of the time (it was brewing nicely in America), but it took off big style – and in many ways influenced the future soundscape of the 90s, rattling the window of the Hillfoot villages and influencing Scottish bands like Primal Scream as it went. 

Further Blog Reading

We hope that you have enjoyed your virtual climb up Dumyat – just one of the many adventure activities you could do if you chose to learn English in Scotland with us!

We cover a broad range of topics in our language school blogs – some a lighthearted look at Scotland, others an in-depth look at art and culture. There’s something for everyone.

If you’ve liked this blog, you might want to read about another activity we offer:

English Language Holiday Activities | Kayaking the River Tay

 

swift in flight Logie Kirk by Blue Noun English language school
swift in flight Logie Kirk by Blue Noun English language school

 Your Blue Noun English Language Challenge is:

“The one that got away…”

 

This is an expression from fishing, saying the one that you didn’t manage to catch was better than all the ones you did catch. Of course, it is safely unprovable, so knock yourself out with your descriptions and imagination!

The structure here is ‘would have.’ For example:

My photo would have been good if I had captured the bird with the foreground in focus.

My week would have been different if my daughter hadn’t caught this bug.

We would have got lost in the mist if Kenny hadn’t been wearing his brightest pair of socks.

 

Notice where the past participles are used in the sentence structure and write about an artwork/photo or creation that didn’t work for you. What is something that, ‘would have been good if…

Write as much as you like, and if you would like us to check &  correct your English, write CP  (correct please) at the end.

 

Live language learning!

 

 

“The one that got away…”

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