During our week in Scotland in July 2012 we visited Stirling for a day. It was my husband’s idea to see it since his favourite movie is the Braveheart. The hero of the movie William Wallace was in the real life a Scottish knight who won the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 against the English army in the War of Scottish Independence. Alas, he was captured a few years later by the English and suffered a gruesome death.
It was pouring down in Edinburgh when we almost ran from our hostel to the bus station to catch the local bus to Stirling. But the weather soon picked up and our day in Stirling was even warm and sunny unlike the rest of our week in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I felt a bit sick on the bus but the green landscape and cows and horses and sheep which I saw from the bus soon cheered me up. We got off the bus at Stirling bus station and took another one that went to Stirling University campus. That was a waste of money because our original bus also went there. We told the bus driver where we wanted to go ( The National Wallace Monument) and he left us in the middle of the road not far from the monument. We saw it atop a hill and walked on until we got to the Visitor’s center. So it’s a bit tricky to get to this landmark if you don’t have a car since it’s actually located outside Stirling and relatively close to Stirling University.
We bought our tickets in the Visitor’s Center and walked uphill through the forest to the Wallace Monument which is a 67 m tall tower built in the 19th century. There are 226 steps to the top of the tower but there are three floors where you can rest and see some exhibits. You can see the original William Wallace’s sword and you can read about the Battle of Stirling. On one floor you can see a list of great inventions that have been invented by the Scots. For example, did you know that the penicillin and the steam engine and the fax machine and the golf clubs were in fact invented by the Scottish people? However, the best part of the Wallace Monument was the view from the top of the tower. You can see as far as the sea! We saw the town of Stirling and the Stirling Castle and the university campus and the hills and it was so beautiful. And luckily it didn’t rain. 🙂
We went down by a mini-bus. Yes, there’s a mini-bus that takes visitors uphill to the tower from the visitor’s center. Before that we bought our certificates in the tower’s shop which prove that we climbed to the top. I’ve got a similar one from the Monument, London. In the visitor’s center’s tea room I had the most tasty scones and a toffee cheesecake with my tea. Thus fed and happy I could walk all the way back to the center. It took us an hour and a quarter to reach the Stirling Castle but it was a leisurely walk and we crossed the Stirling Bridge.
Old Stirling Bridge is a stone bridge on the river Forth. From the bridge you can see a magnificent view of the Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig hill. We continued our walk to the Stirling Castle but didn’t actually go in. We just loitered at the entrance and browsed in the souvenir shop. Since we’ve already visited the Edinburgh Castle we didn’t want to pay a ticket for another castle but we did want to at least see this one from the outside.
So, we went downwards from the castle to the city center and passed by several interesting sites such as Arglly’s lodge and Mar’s Wark and the Old Prison. At this point I was hungry again so we picked a small restaurant and had lunch. I was worried that we would be left with a lot of Scottish Pounds which would be useless in London but in the end we didn’t get a lot of them and we did manage to spend them whilst in Scotland. I think you can change them to regular pounds in a bank but we were told that they aren’t accepted in shops in England. We sometimes got the Scottish ones as a change in the shops. They are prettier though than the regular ones. I drank a rose lemonade at the restaurant and we ate pasta. I know, not very Scottish but my husband did have the haggis in Edinburgh. After the lunch we walked around the center for a bit and bought some souvenirs and took our bus back to cold but beautiful Edinburgh. It was a great day trip! I thoroughly enjoyed walking around Stirling and the Wallace Monument was really great.
p.s. I’ll be posting more about this Scottish trip so stay tuned!:)
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