Since we’ve been back in Scotland, the weather has been unusually wet, even for this area! 1 dry day, 10 wet days. This went on for about 12 weeks and then all of a sudden, about 3 weeks ago, when we were still loaded with the flu, the sun came out and started drying everything up, muddy paths became ‘do-able in trainers’, instead of wellies, and the surrounding hills looked stunning – some still capped with snow.
After feeling like all our training has been indoors, due to the weather and only seven available hours of daylight, we suddenly got a sniff of Spring with the sun coming up at 730amish and going down at 730pmish, a full 12 hours of sunlight! Without knowing when the next bout of rain, fog, mist, and general greyness will arrive, when the sun does shine, you have to get out there!
Right on our doorstep is a beautiful big hill, Dumyat (pronounced Dum-My-At) which overlooks us and it’s become a daily ritual to look out the window and see if we can see Dumyat, in our little, picture frame sized window. Some days, it’s cloaked in mist and fog and there is no Dumyat, some days you wake up and it’s white and bright and full of snow and other days, it’s standing strong with the full sun on its chest and you can just about make out the trig point at the top.
The first time I climbed it when we came back was New Year’s Day and it was a stunner and the busiest I’ve ever seen it, heaps of folk taking on the hill to clear away the hangovers – just like us. Young, old, kids, dogs, runners, walkers: everyone was out that day, the first day of the New Year.
Since then I’ve done it 4 more times: in the snow and ice; in slippy conditions in the mud; in full sun with no fleece, just my T-Shirt on; walking, or walking and jogging to the top, testing my legs which have not done a hill run in many months.
It’s become familiar now, so I time myself to see how long it takes me to the top, choosing slightly different tracks and routes each time, trying to find the best ascent. I’m not training for anything and I’m not competing with anyone, so my time does not matter, but it’s good to see the difference in times since my first ascent of the year, and amazingly I’ve shaved 10 minutes off it! Will I get any faster? Who knows, who cares, but I’ve made a little deal with myself and Dumyat, a wee challenge to keep me running hills, getting outdoors and doing what I love most. I’m going for 50 ascents of Dumyat by New Year’s Day 2017. Doing 100 seemed too ‘full-on’ and would not allow me to do other stuff we love, so 50 was a good goal – five down and 45 to go! I’ll keep timing myself, but some days I may just walk up and take my time.
You’d think it would get boring, but I like the consistency of knowing its grooves and curves and the panoramic view from the top is different every-time. On good days you can see all the way to the East coast of Scotland, & Edinburgh to the sea; in the other direction you have the peaks of the impressive Munroe’s (a Munroe is a mountain above 3,000 ft) of the Trossachs and Ben Lomond National Park. It’s good to stop for a breather and take it all in, before you ‘fall down’ the hill, picking your way to the bottom, greeting everyone coming up. You’re never alone on the hill, there’s always a few runners, walkers and dogs. It’s just a really accessible, stunning walk or run for anyone.
I know locals who came up here, or were dragged up here when they were younger, and then walked it with mates as they got older, slept on its sides in tents, got caught in a snow storm or a downpour and are now dragging their kids up the same paths. There’s a lot of history on this hill and I’m sure everyone has a Dumyat tale to tell.
We love it: it’s a natural stair climber, full of fresh air and amazing landscapes. Once you start, you’re committed, you are not going to turn back down half way, you have to get to the top, no excuses or stories in your head telling you to cut your run short, the only way is up, and then down. It works both sides of your body, you get a healthy glow and the sense of achievement is immense. Dumyat will always be there, checking us out, winking at us on a beautiful day, a reminder that it may rain tomorrow and we won’t see him for a while – ‘get up here, now!’, he says.
Happy Easter Hols!