Friday, 3 February 2012

Making a mountain out of a molehill

Size, as they say, isn't everything. This morning I climbed a mountain called Dumyat (pronounced Dum-i-at, not Dum-yat as I did for the first year we lived here, prompting withering glances from the locals). It's actually not much more than 400m high. There's a well-trodden path to the top, worn wide and bare by the hundreds of walkers that climb it every week. But it still has all the qualities of a very good mountain.

The view from the summit is spectacular. On a truly clear day the whole of the Forth estuary is spread beneath you: the factories and bond warehouses; the refineries at Grangemouth; then fields melting into the shining silver path of the Forth itself as it snakes its way to the sea, widening and wilding as it does so. Today was more hazy, the sunlight slanting at odd angles through the thin clouds, tinting the hills and river a rosy pink. Look the other way and the great line of the Highland Boundary Fault marches across the horizon - from Ben Lomond in the west to Ben Vorlich, then on to Ben Lawers and its cohorts in the east. A stonking sight today with those slivers of sun catching their snow-topped peaks.

And there's a trig point, and a beacon, at the top. And a nice place out of the wind to eat your sandwiches. But what really makes Dumyat a mountain is the fact that it's wild. What makes it wild? Today it was a raven, a bird as big as a buzzard, that glided high above us, cronking its rough, dark call. You only find ravens living in wild places - they need undisturbed cliff ledges (or high trees) in which to build their rough, branchy nests to breed. Though they're not adverse to the odd excursion to a rubbish tip or roadside to scavenge if times are tough. They seem dour birds, but they're fiercely intelligent. They remind me of Marvin the Robot in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: 'Brain the size of a planet and here I am stuck on this godforsaken hillside making babies'. February is nest-building time for ravens. And the fact that ravens are on Dumyat, probably looking for a nest site, makes it a wild place in my book.

So there you have it. Wild, great view, trig point, sandwich spot - what else do you need in a mountain?


  1. Enjoyed your Raven post. I'm always on Raven look-out. Nice to know they're hanging around the Dumyat area-might be the same one/pair that that I first saw last summer heading down through Menstrie Glen. What a joy to be in the garden and to hear that glorious sound-usually only heard when I'm well into the hills, somewhere wild and empty.

    Ellie (Norahmoo-twitter)

  2. Thanks for your comment Ellie. I love ravens too. Even had two flying over the field north of the village last week. Brilliant birds that don't perhaps get the attention they deserve!