For anyone who has seen Braveheart, a trip to Stirling has got to be a must if you find yourself in central Scotland. The Battle of Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce and, of course, William Wallace. Amazing characters from a remarkable period of Scottish and English history. From Glasgow it is a short train journey (around 35 mins) and costs less than £9 for an off-peak return. It couldn’t be simpler.
Stirling Castle, or rather just one part of the amazing complex!
Once in Stirling, after leaving the station, you can jump on the next Hop-on Hop-off bus (service 1314 – after the Battle of Bannockburn) and head up the hill to the first of two major tourist attractions Emily and I wanted to visit – Stirling Castle. What a beauty.
The only photo I have of Stirling Castle in full – 40x zoom and 2 miles away, taken from the Wallace Monument
To say that it is impressive is an understatement. Built in the 12th Century with extensive work constantly being done over the next 400 years, the buildings themselves reflect the often chaotic and eclectic history of the place. No two kings had the same idea about how the castle should look. Not surprising given the number of times the castle changed hands in the Scottish Wars of Independence!
Emily demonstrating how, in the event of invaders, to use a cannon… probably
For a full history of the castle, Emily and I thoroughly recommend taking the “free” hour long tour. I say “free” because to get into the castle it will cost you anything up to £16, so really it should be advertised as being at no extra cost! However, the depth of knowledge shared and the passion for the amazing location left everyone in our group impressed. Wandering around the gardens and rooms you didn’t see as part of the tour will take anything from 1 to 2 hours, depending on your personal pace. So, all in all, £16 for 3 hours in an amazing castle is rather well spent!
Emily and I ready to enjoy a cheeky #redwedding as King and Queen of the Scots
As you leave Stirling Castle you will probably want to snap some of the many amazing views from the vista provided. Rolling hills, mountains, the town of Stirling and most people’s next destination – the National Wallace Monument. Sticking out from a hill in the distance we could see it calling us over. So naturally we jumped back on the 1314 bus and headed straight there!
Scotlands majestic mountains in the distance and the Wallace Monument calling to us
A short journey later we arrived at the entrance to the visitor centre at the base of Abbey Craig – the hill the monument is situated on. I can’t lie, Emily and I chose not to pay to enter the interior of the monument. Since Emily has been before, I was most excited about the view from the hill looking back across to the castle, and we are travelling on a budget it seemed a compromise to miss it out. 6 months, 3 continents, 2 people. It’s going to add up!
We got pretty close up to the monument anyway!
We still climbed the hill and saw the impressive monument. The tower was constructed following a fundraising campaign, which accompanied a resurgence of Scottish national identity in the 19th century. Added to the castle, this makes Stirling one of Scotland’s must visit cities. It oozes history and just all around Scottishness. Fantastic!
The man himself – William Wallace!
Satisfied with the view and the monument from the exterior, we headed back down the hill and on the 1314 bus back into Stirling. There are more things to see and do in the historic city, but Emily and I met Paul and his family – an old work colleague of mine – at the Kilted Kangaroo. After food and a few beers, we parted ways and headed back to Glasgow. What a day trip!
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Artsy Emily photo – featuring flowers, fields and mountains