Walking to the top of Dumyat Hill

Stirling lies in the borderlands between the highlands and the lowlands of Scotland, so even though the actual city is mainly flat (with the exception of the castle hill), there are several hills nearby. One of the tallest ones being Dumyat, even though it’s not actually that tall, being just over 400 meters high. It’s rather close to both the Wallace Monument and the University of Stirling. I walked to the top of it with a  friend when it was grey, rainy and I had a cold. Great idea I say.

Cairn at the Dumyat Hill summit, with Stirling and Wallace monument in the background

We started nearby the golf course at the university, and found a trail there which seemed to go in the right direction. It did, sort of, with some extra steep parts (yay), and we eventually found the “main” trail. The part after that was easier, although there were a few more really steep parts, as well as the wind getting stronger the higher we got. I needed a lot of breaks to catch my breath, but eventually we reached the top, and the wind was insane! It was so strong (and cold) I felt like it would almost blow me away, and I’m not exactly a tiny person. And after sitting on the least windy side of the cairn marking the top for about 10 minutes, eating some food, I could no longer feel my fingers. Needless to say, the decent was a lot quicker, it being downhill and all, and us being rather frozen. All in all, it took about 2-3 hours, although I’m sure it could be done a lot quicker by someone more fit and less ill.

Somewhere on the way to the top of the hill...and no trees at all

The walk is actually really nice,  even with the really steep parts, and the view just gets better and better the higher up you get. When you reach the top, it’s fantastic, both towards Stirling and the surrounding area, but also the other way, with (seemingly) endless hills in the distance. When we went there, some of them were capped with snow, and it reminded me of mountains in Norway. Although in Norway there would be trees a lot higher up. Most of Dumyat, excepting the very beginning, has no trees, just grass and other small plants. And rabbits, there’s always rabbits.

Have you been on a hill or mountain? Did you enjoy it? 

University of Stirling – The Good

I’ve been studying at University of Stirling since September, and so I’ve some opinions of what I like or dislike about it. I decided to share what I think, this post about what I like, and another about what I dislike.  

All universities have a castle, right?

First of all, it’s in a really nice location, it’s central in Scotland and has pretty good train/bus connection, so it’s easy to get to most places. The campus is beautiful (except the buildings),  there is a lake, hills in the background, flowers and wildlife such as rabbits, squirrels, ducks, swans and other birds. It’s a really big contrast to many universities in the middle of big cities where there  are hardly anything green at all. Oh, and there is a castle on campus, a small one, but a castle nonetheless.

It’s a good university for sports, with more than 40 sports clubs, a gym, various playing fields and a golf course. Personally I joined one of the two karate clubs, something I have never tried before, but which has been great!

Maybe this is common in Britain, but it seems like there is a lot of focus on making everything accessible for anyone at the university. Or maybe it’s just more visible here, with power assisted door openers, signs showing where it is disabled entrance, which there is to basically everywhere. Last semester the entrance to one of the buildings was completely redone, to make it easier for wheelchair users to enter the building. Of course, this brings the question of how much resources should be used for a very small minority? Don’t take me wrong, of course everyone should have the opportunity to study, but isn’t it a little unfair when so much effort is put into making something for a tiny minority, something that I have so far never even seen anyone use? Couldn’t some smaller, simpler solution have been found, instead of almost redesigning the whole entrance? And used the rest of that money for something that is beneficial for more people? Like more computers in the library.

The university buildings from the top of the Wallace Monument

Most people have very few classes per week, I have 11 this semester, and I had 9 last semester, and that is almost twice as much as most of my friends here. It seems to be more common to have 5-6 hours per week, depending on what you study. This is great as it gives quite a bit of independence, although it might not be the most efficient way of teaching. As you are supposed to study a lot outside the classes, but few people do even half as much as they are supposed to.

One thing I particularly like is to be able to influence how your timetable to some extent. Not the lectures, but for the practicals and tutorials you get to pick from different choices of time/day.

In general the buildings and teaching rooms are very much acceptable, if not always perfect. With things such as projectors and computer access everywhere. If the lecturer is good, the classes are good (duh). The grading system is fair, anonymous and with two different graders for each paper.

The library is really good in some respects and not as good in others. The opening times are great, as it’s open every day until midnight, and until 2 am in exam periods. In particular I also like the system for loaning/extending books, as it’s easy and practical, and the movable shelves. They make it feel like it’s Hogwarts. Ok, not really, as Hogwarts had moving staircases,  paintings with crazy knights and fat ladies, ghosts, screaming books and way, way cooler library than the one here. But one can dream, the movable shelves are pretty cool anyway.

All in all I have really enjoyed studying here, although much more because of the people and the location than the classes. I sorta dislike most of my classes. Which is sorta ironic when I’m here to study.

Where did/do you study, or where would you like to go? Did you like it there?

Stirling: Wallace Monument

Wallace Monument

If you’ve seen Braveheart, you should recognize the name William Wallace, the guy who fought against the English for the freedom of the Scots. Now, the movie is far, far from historically correct, but Wallace actually lived in Scotland and he did fight against the English at the end of the 13th century, and the battle he is most famous for took place here in Stirling. The battle of Stirling bridge, where Wallace and the Scots won against the English. Because of his relatively successful fighting against the English, Wallace became one of the Scottish heroes, and thus it was decided to build a monument in his honour around 140 years ago. It was long debated where to build this great monument, and it was eventually decided to build it in Stirling, on a hill not far from where he won his great victory seven centuries ago.

The monument does look pretty cool, and it can be seen from really far away, as much of the land around is very flat. I personally use it as a landmark when I’m on the train sometimes to see when it’s time to get off.  Mostly if I’m on the train alone and is bored.

View towards river Forth and Stirling from the top of the Wallace Monument

I’ve only been inside and on the top of the actual monument once, but I’ve been on the hill where the monument stands 4-5 times so far, as it’s a nice (if steep) walk, and it’s pretty nice view from there as well, particularly when it’s nice weather.

I’d say the monument is worth a visit, even though it’s perhaps a little more expensive than it should be, as there isn’t enough interesting things in the tower to justify 6-7 pounds in my opinion. There is a rather nice room, on the first “floor” where you get to learn the real story of William Wallace. It’s very interesting, but other than that the only other really interesting thing is the view from the top. But then, the view really, really is worth it. It’s absolutely beautiful from the top, and you can see so far. I think I would pay again, just to see the view from the top, even if it means climbing the 246 steps a second time.

Have you seen Braveheart or know about William Wallace from somewhere else?

Sunburns in Scotland..in March!

This doesn't count as clouds, not in Scotland

Scotland is known for being cold, cloudy, windy and rainy,  which in many cases is true. Even in the summer the average temperature is 15-16 degrees (Celsius to be specific), which is pretty cold for summer. However, last week, in March, it was no rain, and barely any clouds for well over a week. Now, that does happen sometimes, but this time it was actually warm. Warm enough for people to get sunburns. In Scotland. In MARCH. Actual sunburns. It was 18-20 degrees here for most of that time, if not more, as it felt even warmer in the sun. It was similar weather and temperature in other parts of northern Europe during the same time, but still, this is Scotland, and it rarely gets that warm here even in July!

I also went to take pretty pictures outside, like this one of the reflection in the river

Of course, I was mostly stuck inside avoiding  working on assignments I had conveniently forgotten about until it was getting very close to the deadlines. Bad timing there.

Then the weather went back to being normal, volatile Scottish weather, with rain, clouds and cold temperatures. Yesterday it even snowed and hailed here, and the hills in the distance are capped by snow. I’d like to think this weather won’t last long either, but I don’t really believe it.


Anyone else enjoyed the unexpected, nice weather in the end of March?