A while back I blogged about receiving a list of ’50 things to do this year’ from a complete stranger somewhere in the world. I thought it was time to start focusing on it again or I’m never going to complete everything before the year’s up. So this weekend I ticked off number 39, (I’m not going through the list in order – I’m not that far on with it!!), and ‘went on a mountain hike’. Even although I live in Scotland, where there are plenty of mountains/hills, I’ve never been up a proper big hill – no matter how many times friends/family have tried to persuade me otherwise. For about ten years I’ve stubbornly refused, saying I’m happy enough just enjoying the views from their photographs. So haha, stranger from somewhere in the world – you’ve finally broken me and introduced me to a new experience, which was the whole point of this 50 task thing really...
I have to confess I went to a lot of bother questioning which hill I could get away with calling a small mountain in order to complete this task. Dumgoyne, on the edge of the Campsies, fitted the bill for me as some online blurb refers to it as a ‘mini mountain’, and a seasoned hill walker (accidentally I think) referred to it as a mountain. According to Wikipedia Dumgoyne is 1,402 feet - a reasonable enough challenge for my first attempt (see that use of ‘first’ attempt – my subconscious is already telling me to get back up another, bigger one).
So off I set with an experienced hill walking friend in tow, who mocked my rubbish hill walking (sorry mountain walking) attire – ie. jeans (they were stretchhhhy) and no waterproof (it was sunny when I left my flat). The walk up to Dumgoyne is very pleasant; up a winding path, past a few farm houses and through a field with weird and wonderful trees, up over a fence and stream...then the real walk began.
Dumgoyne is a rather steep climb. I was grateful for the worn ‘footholds’ imprinted into the hillside, as there were a few moments where it would have been easier to slide backwards, than move forwards. One of my favourite things about being up high was being able to see which towns in the distance the rain was falling on; it formed blankets of mist, curling down from the clouds, and it spurred me on to walk faster . ‘Get to the top before the rain reaches us’, was my half beat mantra. The rain caught me before I got to the top of course, probably at the steepest point of the climb, (the part of the climb where I was a bit out of breath and wondering why people did this for fun). It was a horrible drizzly rain that seeped into my jersey hooded top. Seasoned hill walkers probably saw me coming a mile off, wondering what the hell I was wearing and why I was half clinging, half walking up the mountain at this point.
But then I got over the steepest point, and the top (the end!) came into sight and I turned to look at the view behind me and it felt good, clambering up this mountain, with only miles of trees, lochs, fields and clouds in the distance. Reaching the top felt even better- as I climbed the last steps I was rewarded with a hauntingly beautiful image of mist surrounding the hills to my right. Here’s a photo of me at the top to prove I really did complete the walk!
|Me at the top|
I was stupid enough to think that getting up Dumgoyne would be the hardest part, but actually getting down was more difficult, due to the steep drop. I did that thing of half sitting, clinging onto grass, attempting to slide down some of the way on my bum etc, to avoid falling head over heels and rolling all the way back down to the car. My ankles bent at such strange angles it reminded me a bit of a painful snowboarding experience from years back.
Once I was upright again at a decent angle, the walk became pleasant once more. I’d half joked earlier to my walking companion, “Ha, can you imagine mountain biking down a hill like this?” and couldn’t believe it when we passed two teenage boys on their way up, carrying bikes.
They smiled hello and I stared at them. “You’re not seriously going to cycle back down are you?” I said, like I was their mother. “Yes,” They scoffed. Haha, stupid me-of course. Enjoy your suicide mission, boys. We didn’t stick around to find out if they made it. How they even managed to keep balance to carry their bikes up there I don’t know...
So one of my favourite parts of the day, I have to confess, was going to a great little cafe afterwards and drinking this amazing chocolate milkshake.Yum!
One mission complete, only another oh, 40 odd to go...