As Lockdown eases and we are allowed to spend more time outdoors, we thought we’d take a look at the spaces and places you can visit in the Stirlingshire area.
The current Scottish Government Guidelines make it clear that you should stay within 5 miles of your home, and should not visit beauty spots; this ensures that the smaller communities surrounding areas like Loch Lomond are not overwhelmed with visitors. When you do go out into the great outdoors, make sure you bring your own food and drinks, take all rubbish home with you, and practice social distancing.
There are great mental health benefits to spending time outside in green spaces, and right now we need to be taking as much care of our mental health as our physical health. So let’s take a look at 5 places you could visit in Stirlingshire (if they are within 5 miles of your home).
Church of the Holy Rude Old Town Cemetery
The Church of the Holy Rude was founded in 1129, and is the second oldest building in Stirling, with the castle being the oldest. The Old Town Cemetery which sits between the Holy Rude and Stirling Castle is one of our favourite places for a wander. Graveyards are a great way to find out more about the social and economic history of their surrounding communities, which is why the SCHT team visit historic graveyards wherever they go! There have been burials in this area since at least the 1400s, but no gravemarkers remain from this period. There are, however, some excellent grave slabs and gravestones dating from the 1600s.
The Beheading Stone
This gruesome landmark is always worth a visit. The stone now sits inside a metal cage designed by local architect John Allan in 1887, quite the commission! The stone was used for beheadings in medieval Stirling and sits atop Mote Hill, where the remains of a vitrified fort were also found. Famous shoulders which lost their heads on the hill include Murdoch Stewart, the Duke of Albany, in 1425.
Kings Park is a very popular walking spot, especially for those of us that own dogs (including a few of the SCHT Team). King’s Park is Scotland’s oldest Royal Park, and was owned by the Crown for at least 900 years. It was used by Scottish monarchs and nobility for jousting, hunting, and hawking, and is comparable in importance to Windsor Castle’s Great Park. The Kings Knot is part of this historic landscape, originally part of the formal pleasure grounds below Stirling Castle and it remains a lovely place for a wander.
Stirling Old Bridge
The current Stirling Old Bridge dates from the 1500s and would initially have been constructed of timber. It’s a rare survivor, one of the few medieval bridges left in Scotland, and walking across it reminds you just how much history this part of Scotland is home to. This isn’t the bridge which William Wallace battled on in 1297, but its wooden predecessor would have been located here. The bridge, like the castle and Kings Knot, are now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, which protects and preserves them for us all to enjoy, so why not make Stirling Old Bridge a stop-off on one of your local walks?
The Abbey Craig
The Abbey Craig is best known for the Wallace Monument which has sat atop it since 1869. The monument itself is currently closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the surrounding woodlands. Check out the various trails you can follow here, and enjoy a bit of tranquillity amongst the trees.
Historic Environment Scotland have started a hashtag challenge on their twitter @welovehistory – #FiveInFive, which encourages us to share five historic places within 5 miles of our homes. Feel free to join in, and keep an eye on the Historic Environment Scotland website for news on the re-opening of their properties. Now more than ever the heritage sector needs your support, so when our castles, historic houses and museums re-open be sure to visit them.