Stirling youngsters enjoy sunshine and Light on Dumyat
Some 400 children from primary schools in Stirling have been enjoying the sunshine this week while walking the iconic city hill, Dumyat.
The P6 and P7 pupils were taking part in a project called Light on Dumyat, which is a collaboration between Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, The Walking Theatre Company (TWTC), Stirling Council and The University of Stirling.
The five-day event was fully funded by SP Energy Networks, as part of a Beauly Denny Powerline programme.
What is Light on Dumyat?
Light on Dumyat is a classic children’s adventure book written by the late Scottish author, journalist, broadcaster and outdoorsman Rennie McOwan.
The novel was the first in a series of four children’s books. His novels and non‐fiction titles have long been used in primary and secondary schools.
Before walking the hill, the children from local schools, including Bannockburn, Cowie, East Plean, St Margaret’s, Fallin and St Mary’s, enjoyed reading the novel.
Then, while the youngsters climbed Dumyat to a height of 415m – 7km there and back – they were treated to a specially commissioned outdoors theatrical production by actors from TWTC. (The estate of Rennie McOwan kindly gave the right to use Light on Dumyat for dramatic purposes.)
Further support was given by trainee Mountain Leader students from The University of Stirling’s Environmental Science or Environmental Geography with Outdoor Education degree programme, as well as Phil Thompson, who is Development Manager at Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre in Argyll.
In fact, the Light on Dumyat project was Phil’s idea. He said: “I have always thought it would be a fantastic to have children walking Dumyat after reading the adventure book Light on Dumyat.
“These five days have provided a great opportunity for children to experience literature made real, get some healthy exercise and walk the newly improved path up Dumyat.
“In addition, Literacy and Health & Wellbeing are two of the three core outcomes from the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge, so it has all come together nicely.”
Phil added that the children and teachers enjoyed the experience.
He said: “As they walked they met some of the actors dressed up as characters from the book. They also solved clues in a mystery quiz. All this gave the children the chance to further learn the story of Light on Dumyat.
“We were lucky with the weather, too, although one poor character, the villain from the book, was dressed all in black and that made for a very hot time.”
Children shed light on event
Eight schoolchildren revealed what they enjoyed about the Light on Dumyat walk.
Ramsay said: “When we were going up the hill and we met the actors it felt like we were actually in the story, which is a good thing because it boosted the excitement of going up Dumyat. The mystery on Dumyat was really fun to solve, even though it was challenging.”
Cailean said: “The whole day was great because the actors helped teach us drama skills, such as the owl call and stalking.”
Chloe said: “It was really adventurous because we could see animals and birds that I’ve never seen before. It was exciting searching for the clues.”
Tyler said: “It was really fun climbing Dumyat and I have now talked to my family about climbing up it together and we are planning that already.”
Ava said: “During the walk we met characters from the book including Uncle Fergus, Claire and Mot, who sent us on an adventure to find Gavin and solve some clues to find the password.”
Anna said: “Yesterday we climbed Dumyat and it was so much fun. I had never walked it before and I thought it was a great walk. We came across actors who were scattered across the hill. They were very enthusiastic and I really enjoyed interacting with them. It was a great puzzle that challenged our group whilst we were on our walk.”
Ross said: “I really enjoyed to the trip to Dumyat especially the entertainment along the way. I really enjoyed the experience and would definitely do it again.”
Magnus said: “When I climbed Dumyat, I wasn’t expecting there to be actors on the hill. They were good at interacting with us and they gave us a quest to complete. My favourite part was when we were with Uncle Fergus and we had to shout ‘aye!’.”
Project funding and support
It was a chance meeting on Dumyat between Phil and Scottish Power that realised the funding for the project. SP agreed to provide a £4 million mitigation fund for improved tracks and paths on Dumyat hill as part of the installation programme of Beauly Denny Powerline.
Phil said: “I suggested the idea for the Light on Dumyat project and it was readily agreed. Everyone thought it would be a good way to showcase the upgraded Dumyat path and also provide local children with a great outdoors event.”
Kevin Kelman, Director of Education for Stirling Council, also supports the project. He said: ”This has been a fantastic opportunity for children in East Stirling to get engaged with learning, improve their literacy, get outside and exercise, climb a hill and learn more about their local area.
“Taking education into the outdoors is a great way to combine elements of learning and promote health and wellbeing.”
Craig Arthur, SP Energy Networks’ Distribution Director, added: “As well as being the electricity provider in the Stirling area, we are committed to working with the local people in the communities we serve.
“The Light on Dumyat is a fantastic example of bringing young people out into the great outdoors while encouraging a love for literature.”