Visiting Braveheart: the Wallace Monument

While staying in Stirling, we took a walk out to the Wallace Monument following the route from inStirling.com. NB If anyone else decides to do this, note that It’s mainly paved, but the paths up to Abbey Craig are very muddy and slippery; also the instructions about crossing the railway are out of date – ignore the reference to an overgrown path which no longer exists, and just keep going on the road.

Before you get to the monument, you can view what remains of Cambuskenneth Abbey (from behind a fence at the moment, because it’s only open in summer.) Parliament was held here after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and James III is buried here so it’s of considerable historic significance.

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Soon after leaving the Abbey, Abbey Craig, crowned by the monument, comes into view.

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The monument was built by public subscription and opened in 1869 – after costing twice the original estimate. Nothing changes there, does it? It’s 220 feet tall and, with a narrow spiral staircase of 246 steps, it’s not for the unfit or the claustrophobic. Fortunately, there are three viewing galleries on the way up where you can stop to catch your breath. The first floor tells William Wallace’s life story, the second concentrates on other Scottish heroes and the third documents the building of the monument. The fourth level is the Crown where you get spectacular views over the meandering River Forth to Stirling from one side, and of the Ochil Hills from the other. Here is pictorial proof that we both made it to the top.

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We walked back by a more direct route along a main road, crossing the Forth back into town at the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

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The whole excursion, including a stop in the Legends Coffee House at the Visitor Centre, which does snacks such as toasties and panini, took about five hours. Fresh air, exercise and a bit of culture – and we only got rained on twice. What more could we ask?

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