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  • Writer's pictureabiskye4

"The hills are alive"

Hills can be like people.... literally!

The Campsie Fells are a range of hills north of Glasgow and are known collectively in the local area as 'The Sleeping Warrior' or 'The Sleeping Giant'. And you can see why if you look closely at the photo.

Can you make out the silhouette of a giant man lying on his back holding his sword just like on the tombs of knights from long ago?

I always loved this about the Campsies when I was a student in Glasgow; the thought that there was a warrior inside protecting the hills or perhaps guarding the entrance to the Highlands. The beautiful rolling hills feature heavily in my novel 'The Golden Feather'. In the story, the Campsie Fells are home to a magical Golden Eagle called Solas, which means 'light' in Scottish Gaelic. Twelve year-old Alexandra, the main protagonist, has recently moved to a village called Strathblane, (which is indeed a real village set at the bottom of the Campsie hills!) and it is from here that she goes hillwalking with her father to catch a glimpse of a real-life Golden Eagle. In reality, it is doubtful that there are any actual Golden Eagles living so far south in Scotland, but there are certainly ones living around Ben Lomond that may count the Campsies as part of their territory.

Many hills in Scotland are named in Gaelic and my friend, Wikipedia, tells us the origins of the name Campsie Fells: "meaning 'crooked fairy hill', from the Scottish Gaelic cam, meaning 'crooked', and sìth meaning 'fairy'. 'Fell' originates from the Old Norse word fjall, meaning 'hill'." So I think it's apt that Alexandra meets a magical bird of prey there! It must have been known in the past as an other-worldly place.

A mountain range in the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
The Old Man of Storr

There are other hills and mountains in Scotland which

have been given nicknames and look a tiny bit like the outlines of people, if you use your imagination! So for instance, there is The Old Man of Storr in the Isle of Skye, and The Cobbler in Arrochar, which also used to be known as The Cobbler and his Wife.

A mountain in Arrochar, Scotland
The Cobbler

There are the towering sea stacks on Skye's Duirinish peninsula called the Macleod's Maidens. Sadly, legend has it that the three stacks commemorate the drowning of a Macleod Clan chief's wife and two daughters, when they were

Three sea stacks on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Macleod's Maidens

shipwrecked on their return to their home in Skye from Harris. The tallest stack is the wife, who is said to be weaving, and the smaller stacks are the two daughters preparing wool for their mother.

Scotland is a country of fantastic legends and stories, myth and magic, and my novel is part of that tradition. Set in the Campsies, it weaves animal magic and Scottish folklore with a story of a girl trying to find out who she really is.

I would also love to hear from you whether you know any other hills or mountains named after people or legends where you live! Comment below.

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