The Hills

The Hills¹

The Baa Hill, the Battle Hill, the Clashmach and the Binn,
They aa form a circle and Huntly lies within.

Within and within and within and within,
The circlin forms o aa the hills hiv made the man within.

Growin up in Huntly an yi liftit up yir een,
Yi saa the hills an hillicks mair croodin in atween,
An roondid broos an pyntit taps wis aa yi ivver saa,
For yi’d hae lookit far for ony flat grunn avaa.
Nae that we ivver wintit plains ti meet the warld’s rim,
For faa wis sikkin flat grunn fan there wis hills ti climm?

An then yi funn fan up yi clamm an the view aa roon wis teen,
Yi wist the better far yi wis ti see far yi hid been,
For aa the warld yi ivver kint wis jist yon kintra toon,
An it gid yi a perspective ti be up there lookin doon;
Bit the wider warld that yi surveyed aboot yir summit staan
Wis bigger hills for ither days, an yi kint far yi wis gaan.

Noo that Ah’m weel traivelt an Ah’ve been across the faem,
The mair Ah see o ither laans the mair Ah mine ma hame.
The hills o West Virginia hiv gart me mine o Glass,
An Tap a Noth cam inti sicht abeen Yosemite Pass.
An ey the straacht horizon on the plains o Illinois
Caaed ti mine the caal grey line o the sea oot by Portsoy.

For the hills that Ah grew up wi are prentit on ma brain,
An ey fan ither pairts Ah see they come ti me again.
So efter aa the climmin yi ey hivv ti come doon,
An Ah’ll ging back ti see again the hills o Huntly Toon.

¹ ‘The Hills’ is written in Doric, the language of the North-East of Scotland.
Below is a translation in English, without any attempt to rhyme or scan:

The Hills

The Baa Hill, the Battle Hill, the Clashmach and the Binn,
They aa form a circle and Huntly lies within.


Within and within and within and within,
The circling forms of all the hills have made the man within.

Growing up in Huntly and you lifted up your eyes,
You saw the hills and many more crowding in between,
And rounded brows and pointed tops were all you ever saw,
For you would have looked far for any flat ground at all.
Not that we ever wanted plains to meet the world’s rim,
For who was seeking flat ground when there were hills to climb?

And then you found when up you climbed and the view all round was taken,
You knew the  better where you were to see where you had been.
And all the world you ever knew was just yon country town,
And it gave you a perspective to be up there looking down.
But the wider world that you surveyed about your summit stand
Was bigger hills for other days, and you knew where you were going.

Now that I’m well travelled and I’ve been across the foam,
The more I see of other lands , the more I remember my home.
The hills of West Virginia have made me remember Glass,
And Tap a Noth came into sight above Yosemite Pass.
And always the straight horizon on the plains of Illinois
Called to mind the cold, grey line of the sea out past Portsoy.

For the hills that I grew up with are printed on my brain,
And always when other parts I see, they come to me again.
So after all the climbing you always have to come down,
And I’ll go back to see again the hills of Huntly Town.  

Lead Image: Huntly from the Clashmach Hill

Creator’s biography

Eric was born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire in 1945. He had a mis-spent youth biking up Clashmach Hill behind the town with his pals. In 1960, his Geography teacher announced, ‘Come to school tomorrow with a raincoat, stout shoes and a sandwich.’ He hired a bus to take the whole class to Deeside and whipped them up Lochnagar—no risk assessment or parental consent! This started a lifetime of hillwalking. 

Eric moved to Glasgow in 1963 to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, where he eventually worked as a lecturer, developing a degree in Scottish Traditional Music. Moving to Strathaven, Lanarkshire in 1972, he joined Strathaven Climbing Club which took him to bothies, bens and crags all over Scotland and two visits to the Swiss Alps. 

Now retired, he can still manage Tinto Hill—led by his dog.