West of Blanefield, off the West Highland Way . . .


If you look North across the fields . . .


You’ll see a path through the grass and sheep’s-bit scabious . . .


. . . which leads to a field margin, marked by a line of blasted oaks.


Adjacent, to the West, is the irregular wooded dome of Dumgoyach, and North is Dumgoyne, the volcanic mound that dominates the landscape of the Blane and Endrick valleys.


And if you look down into the valley, you’ll see Duntreath Castle.


Cross into the field and the ground rises and flattens to reveal . . .


. . . these stones.



Four of the five original stones are now recumbent, and the last one standing is a little shorter than me. Analyses of burnt flint and charcoal found at the site dates the structure to 3650 BC, in the middle Neolithic. Aligned with a notch in the hills to the North East, through which the sun rises at the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, this structure is thought to be a short stone row (used to measure solar events), but it has also been suggested that the long cairns are what remains of the facade of a chambered tomb.* The early date, and the proximity of other chambered cairns in this area makes the latter argument reasonably likely, but I am rather tempted to get up to watch the sun rise at Dumgoyach on September 22nd to make my own astronomical observation.


(what do you think, Bruce? Row or tomb? Tomb, or row?)

*The first interpretation belongs to E.W. Mackie who carbon-dated the site in 1972, and the latter to Aubrey Burl, From Carnac to Callanish: Prehistoric Stone Rows of Britain, Ireland and Brittany (1993). See also the RCAHMS site record.

Boiler suits
Thanks so much for all your wonderful boiler-suit / coverall / onesie-related comments on the last post. That kind of collective discussion is probably what I love most about blogging, and it makes me particularly excited when the discussion concerns the different meanings and usages of a garment. If you haven’t had a look at the comments already, I encourage you to go and read them.

Refurb update

Last week I finished decorating the bathroom, bedroom, and new studio. Yesterday I painted the downstairs chimney breast, and today we hung the over-mantle mirror. For weeks the house has felt like a sort of giant jigsaw puzzle and it is extremely exciting to see the bigger picture finally emerging. But, having been engaged upon this project for a couple of weeks now, I would say that it is without a doubt the most physically challenging thing I’ve done post-stroke. This is not only due to the relentlessness of the stretching, bending, and movement painting involves, but also to my poor balance and generally wonky left leg. I have to take a two hour snooze in the middle of the day to keep going, and there have been a few dicey moments as I teetered over the bath or tripped on a dust sheet. That said, happily, the closest I’ve got to disaster is getting paint in my mouth and hair. Ick. Anyway, I shall be painting downstairs on half-days only next week, and, now the studio is habitable I can at last get back to some knitting, designing, and email-answering.

Field Notes
Most of the swallows have gone, which is rather sad, but I recently put food in the hanging feeders on the porch and have been astounded by the variety of bird-buddies that are dropping by. More of them anon.

38 thoughts on “A walk to Dumgoyach

  1. Hi Kate,

    My family of four moved to Dundee from Ottawa, Canada six weeks ago. We are loving living in Scotland. My wife is working(a teacher, p7), our daughters are in school, and I am tending the home front. Our weekdays are busy and the we are trying to make the most of each weekend. Dundee is a beautiful (though under rated) area, which we have just begun to explore.

    Recently, a favourite aunt (also a knitter) back in Canada sent us a link to your blog post about your walk to Dumgoyach. We love your writing and images… Also, in our many family adventures, Aunt Nance has never steered us in a wrong direction. She seems to have a magical ability to open doors to fascinating new places, people and experiences. As a family, we have a tradition of celebrating seasonal changes (equinox and solstice), usually with a picnic.

    With that, it seems that we must visit Dumgoyach. So this Saturday (tomorrow) we intend to make the drive, in order to make the walk to the standing stones.

    If possible, we would enjoy having the chance to meet you… If this is agreeable to you, I hope you might reply to my email address. I will then connect you with our family blog so that you might learn a little about us and we can discuss particulars.




  2. ‘the swallows are here’ yay I love how they mark the seasons, arriving in ones and twos and the amazing gathering in autumn ready to leave. They are madly nest building and eating all the tiny insects -happy days and swallows are here the blossom is out -spring is here. You can have them back in six months -ok. Seriously Kate I am so impressed with your lifestyle changes you are on a much better path than pre-stoke, People ask me if I would go back and change things and of course one would love to run, swim and etc. without issues but the person we become and the path we take would not be the same if we could just run ahead with life. Congratulations to you and of course Tom on embracing the changes and being blessed with the life you do have.


  3. hey congratulations on your flitting. And wonderful pictures of stones big and small! Having visited north-west highlands for the first time I’m completely blown away by your country. The light is different, the wildness and space… Planning my next year’s holiday already, and started saving too, and wondering how if ever I oculd live there. Down here in deepest darkest Devon its just so lush.


  4. Oooh, birds! I look forward to seeing what sort of visitors you have been having. My brood will ask if you have Blue-Footed Boobys, or an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. I fear I know the answer… (I blame Bird Bingo and the wonderful Rachel Coopey for their insatiable appetite for weird and wonderful birds…)


  5. Beautiful walk – and to my archaeological eye, that definitely looks like the remains of a chambered tomb (I’m surrounded by them – almost literally, in three directions anyway). Will be interesting to see how it aligns!

    (And good going on the house… studio, yay!)


  6. Oh , but those rocks… those recumbent ancient stones, they are mesmerizing. How lucky you are to live in an ancient land ! Twice lucky to be starting out so fresh in new house , decorating up a storm, then have new trails to walk. In fact, by my estimation Kate, you must be the luckiest person alive :) . I can’t wait to see what you’re doing with your new house, upstairs & downstairs, (envious of paint in mouth and hair) … and especially :: suppresses a squeal:: ….. your new STUDIO !


  7. I have been a napper since my first son made it clear he would only sleep ten minutes in two hours, round the clock. Been working the “off tours” since forever and MUST nap for an hour sometime midday. We who sleep twice in twentyfour hours will last twice as long as the regular folk,


  8. Lovely photos. I so want to visit Scotland some year. Like the other commenter said: how does one pronounce the name of that place? Glad to hear the remodeling is going well but sorry you get tired so often. Can’t wait to find out what your new studio will be like.


  9. Lovely photos Kate. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. The lichen must surely be an inspiration for a fair isle pattern?
    You have made great progress on the house, and like others, I’m waiting to see the results!


  10. Such a beautiful place to live. It’s great that you are hanging up the paintbrush now and then and getting out and about to enjoy it! Bruce sure looks pleased to be there!


  11. So glad you’re making such great progress on the new place and getting out and about! And yes, an early start on the 22nd is essential! I’d love to be there to see what you see… Photos?!


  12. What a very lovely part of the world. Thank you for sharing it with us. And good luck with the refurb, it sounds as if you’re going great guns with that. My view on afternoon napping? Essential! If you don’t get enough rest, you paint the wrong bits or use the wrong colours (ask me how I know).

    I was also wondering about the pronunciation, because I’m sure it’s not as I imagined it. Some rudimentary phonetics would be much appreciated.


  13. I think Bruce would like to make his own astronomical observation! What lovely pictures, thank you for posting them. I love the colour of the lichen on the rocks.


  14. Apart from a wonderful travel log I did wonder what Jesus thought of your new ‘bird buddies’!! :)
    You have done exceedingly well all your bending/stretching etc with your refurb……what an accomplishment! Probably thought at times that you’d never get there and look at you now…wow!
    Looking foreward to pics of the house and the studio in particular. Yes to the 22nd!!!


  15. Wonderful scenery! Glad the refurb is going well. A word of warning – watching birds on the feeders is addictive and can lead to a serious decline in output- and you get even less done when you get a birdbath!! Our swallows are congregating on the phone lines – a sure sign that they will soon be off. But we had a great tit in the front garden today – they vanish during the summer, then reappear in the autumn, meaning more time sitting on a stool in the lounge, taking photos!


  16. Thank you for sharing your new landscape. I hope you can be there on the 22nd. And I very much look forward to reading about your birds. The swallows have been moving through my part of the planet for two weeks now (Florida coast) and the tree swallows will be arriving here soon for the winter.


  17. Rome wasn’t built in a day – don’t set yourself back by rushing to get finished, Kate. I absolutely love the photos from your new place.


  18. Ah Kate, I always look forward to your blog posts popping into my email. It’s like a virtual mini vacation! That landscape. Oh my. I know you know how blessed you are, but you are especially so with all that beauty around you. I love that you take the time to see it. Can you imagine, there is people out there that do not? I was one of them before my injury. Ugh, and as a trained artist, I thought I was looking before. Silly.

    Your house sounds like it is coming along great! Take it easy! Them pesky nerves endings and all. I can’t wait to see your studio! And the knitting coming out of it! And I’d love to see some of your new birds. What does Bruce think of them?



  19. Your posts are so enjoyable, they evoke many memories of similar experiences and places visited (just back from Pembrokeshire – hill forts, standing stones etc). Enjoy your studio time.


  20. Thanks so much, Kate, for sharing your beautiful part of the world with us. Was your mashed vehicle replaced so you can camp out overnight on the 22nd? I wonder what this amazing rock structure means. Really looking forward to seeing photos of your studio and the rest of your new home.


  21. The swallows circling the sky as they prepare to leave is the saddest feeling in summer.

    Glad you’re settling in and haven’t trodden, comedy style, in paint pots.


  22. When I first heard about all your renovation plans, I wondered how you were handling it physically. My husband had his stroke in 2009 and still has some balance problems, but mostly it is his stamina that has been affected. He, too, naps mid-day, and that seems to re-energize him. I’m glad to hear that, but for a few wobbles, you are doing well. Thanks, too, for taking us on another ramble in your lovely countryside. I loved the additional archaeological sidebar to this post, as this is a great interest of mine. So good wishes to you, Tom and Bruce on your new home. Can’t wait to hear more and hope you will share some pictures when it’s finished.


  23. Kate, I was washing dishes this morning, looking out the window into the back garden and wondering how your renovation was going. I realised that it was likely the most physically strenuous thing you had done post stroke and was happy for you that your recovery had progressed this far. I went through this thirteen years ago, and although my damage was less, I remember the frustration of needing at least one mid day nap to make it through the day. I’m hoping that you look at the finished house and see it as a triumphant sign of your recovery thus far.

    Take the walk on the 22nd. Camp out if you need to. It’s a Sunday morning. Enjoy the sunrise and solstice with a cuppa.


  24. I immensely enjoy reading your blogs. I always feel as if I have been transported to a magical/mystical time in the past. I long to visit your little section of the world and hopefully, one day this wish will come true. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy your writings and work on finding a way to your land. :)


  25. Wow! You’ve been so busy! That was a beautiful account of your walk, by the way. Just wonderful. Do sleep over on Sept. 22 and let us know! Thank you for a wonderful (electronic) sojourn!


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