Heritage Trail: Stirling Walks

Visiting outdoor historic places is good for our wellbeing, so with this in mind, we take a look at some heritage themed walks around Stirling you can enjoy.

Heritage has a hugely positive impact on our wellbeing, and as we all recover from the pandemic, our wellbeing has never been more important. In fact, studies have shown that engaging with heritage improves your mental and physical health. Our shared cultural heritage also creates a strong sense of pride in place, bringing communities together and creating a sense of belonging. Visiting outdoor historic places is particularly good for us, so with this in mind, lets take a look at some heritage themed walks around Stirling you can enjoy.


Heritage Trails

Our very own Heritage Trails, can be picked-up at The Stirling Smith Museum & Art Gallery and the Visit Scotland Stirling iCentre.

Family Heritage Trail

We’ve worked with local artist David Galletly to create an illustrated family heritage trail for Stirling City Centre. Learn all about the history of the city and meet some interesting characters, including an unlucky child who has been locked up in the stocks and Scotland’s national animal! Answer some questions along the way so that you can complete a codebreaker word scramble.

Who Built Stirling?

Stirling City Centre is full of grand and interesting buildings, but do you know who built them? Our new map ‘Who Built Stirling?’ highlights 26 key buildings in the city centre and introduces you to their architects.

Architects of Stirling: McLuckie & Walker and John Allan

This trail takes you on an hour-long journey around Stirling city centre. It directs you to 10 buildings designed by Stirling architects McLuckie & Walker or John Allan, and encourages you to stop, look-up, and admire the details. When following the route, be aware of your surroundings and bear in mind some of the buildings on the trail are private homes.


The Back Walk

The Back Walk starts opposite Stirling’s Central Library (a fantastic Scots Baronial building), and it’s marked by a timber carving of a wolf. To learn more about the wolf’s connection to Stirling, check out our blog here. The Back Walk was created between 1724 and 1791, and it follows the outline of the old city walls. It was paid for by William Edmonstone of Cumbuswallace, so we’ve him to thank for the fantastic views, and it was a draw for tourists as well as locals. When Stirling Castle was used as a Barracks, the trees along this route were kept short for security purposes, but when the army vacated the Castle in the 1960s a forest has regrown.

View over Stirling from The Gowan Hill, 1960s. Image courtesy of The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

Gowan Hill

When you’re on the Back Walk, you can make a detour to visit the grisly Beheading Stone on Gowan Hill. The base and metal bars which surround the stone were designed by John Allan in 1887. The stone was being used as a butcher’s block in Bridgehaugh but the Stirling Natural History and Archaeological Society rescued it and put it in this protective cage. The stone was used on Gowan Hill in the public execution of many people, including treasonous nobles like the Duke of Albany in 1425. Mote Hill or Gowan Hill used to be called ‘Heidden Hill’, which makes a lot of sense given its gruesome past…

Bridge Clock Tower by Jo Cound


From Gowan’s Hill, you can head down to Bridgehaugh where you can walk across Stirling’s Old Bridge, and admire the views of the Wallace Monument and river. This bridge was built in the 1500s and was the main crossing point on the Forth, making it extremely strategically important. The Battle of Stirling Bridge was fought in 1297 near a much earlier wooden bridge during the Wars of Independence. It was located upstream of the Old Bridge, but the actual fighting took place on the shore not on the bridge itself.


Cambuskenneth Abbey

If you’d like to delve further into Stirling’s medieval past, you could walk along the River Forth and cross the footbridge bridge to visit the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey. Founded in 1147 by David I, the abbey is the final resting place of James III who was killed nearby in the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488. The footbridge was built in 1935, so until then the village of Cambuskenneth, known as ‘The Abbey’ was accessed by a rowing-boat ferry, giving Ferry Road its name. It was so picturesque that the artists known as the ‘Glasgow Boys’ used to spend their summers here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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