We took a wander up Dumiat recently, Stirling's local hill. The weather was beautiful, early frost warming in the sun, and as I had twisted my foot before Christmas, this was about as big a walk as I could manage.
Looking down from Dumiat, I was struck by the view. East, the Forth widens to the sea. West, the flat Carse of Forth, drained in the 18th century by farm improvers, stretches as far as the Highlands.
Firth of Forth from Dumiat:
Carse of Forth and Ben Lomond:
Between the sea and the former swamp lies Stirling, where the Forth squeezes through a gap a couple miles wide between two hill ranges, the Campsies and the Ochils. Stirling Bridge used to be one of the few crossing places on the Forth. Seeing this area from Dumiat brings alive what that really means.
Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle and Campsies from Dumiat in the Ochils:
This used to be Mannan, a border country between Picts and Britons, before and after the Romans. Later, it was the fulcrum between Picts, Scots, Britons and Angles and, after the Scots established a border further south on the Tweed, it became the brooch that held Scotland together. 'Whoever held Stirling Castle,' the saying went, 'split Scotland in two.' It is probably the most geographically strategic spot in Britain.
The number of battles fought in this area testifies to its strategic importance. Strirling Bridge, Bannockburn, two at Falkirk, Sherrifmuir. Stirling is Britain's Thermopylae.
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