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A couple of years ago, my mam and I went to Glasgow for a holiday, but unfortunately didn’t make it to Stirling for a day out. This year, we decided to spend a few days in Stirling itself, exploring the town and the nearby sights. We left my dad at home (he really doesn’t like Scotland, for some reason) and made our separate ways to Stirling at the end of August.

My mam took the train up from Newcastle; I, having to come up from London and baulking at the ridiculous train prices, took a chance on the overnight Megabus Gold from Victoria coach station. I was actually impressed with this: it wasn’t full of drunken celebrants as I’d feared, but there were plenty of older people and families among the passengers. During the night it was very quiet, apart from the soothing sound of the bus zooming up the motorway. I probably shouldn’t have chosen a top bunk (I did have a little bit of trouble getting into it), but otherwise it wasn’t a bad journey at all.

Ruari the Reindeer

Ruari the Reindeer, my trusty travelling companion, at Stirling station

The bus terminated at Glasgow, so I had to catch the train to Stirling, but that didn’t take long at all, and mam and I were quickly able to check in to our hotel and head out to explore.

Stirling Old Town Jail

Stirling Old Town Jail

We soon discovered that Stirling is hilly. Very hilly. Walking up towards the castle, we resolved that we would be taking the bus up the next day. We broke our journey at the Old Town Jail, which was pretty entertaining.

View from the jail

View from the jail

The next day as promised we got the tour bus to Stirling Castle. This kept us busy for most of the day, as there was so much to see. We also checked out Argyll’s Lodging just down the road, also included in the price of a ticket.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Ruari enjoying the castle

Ruari enjoying the castle

Stirling Castle

Steep drop

Inside the castle

Inside the castle

Argyll's Lodging

Argyll’s Lodging

Argyll's Lodging

The following day we decided to go a bit further afield, catching the tour bus this time to the Wallace Monument. I decided to climb it, despite my chronic laziness, but my mam elected to stay at the bottom and have a cup of tea. Our next stop was the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, and we also decided to head to the Battle of Bannockburn Experience. The actual experience was so expensive that we decided not to bother, and just had a quick look at the battle site instead, before warming up with a cup of tea.

Wallace Monument

Wallace Monument

View from the Wallace Monument

View from the Wallace Monument

Smith Art Gallery and Museum

Smith Art Gallery and Museum

Battle of Bannockburn Experience

Battle of Bannockburn Experience

Battle site

Battle site

Commemorative monument

Commemorative monument

On our final full day we went out even further, visiting Doune Castle. This castle has appeared in a number of films and TV shows, most notably Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In fact, the audio guide is narrated by Terry Jones, and as well as pointing out all the significant historical features of the castle, he tells you about filming the movie and where important scenes were shot.

Doune Castle

Doune Castle

Doune Castle

Doune Castle

Doune Castle

The series Outlander, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon, were also filmed here and extra bits have been added to the audio guide, narrated by Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser. My mam and I are big fans so this was another plus point in the castle’s favour. Our final stop for the day was the village of Callander, where we enjoyed a nice little wander around.

Callander

Callander

The next day we caught the train to Edinburgh, where we had a few hours to kill before catching the train back to Newcastle. We couldn’t go far because of our luggage, but ended up in the National Library of Scotland, where there was an exhibition about the publisher John Murray. He happened to be Byron’s publisher, which is quite exciting.

National Library of Scotland

National Library of Scotland

I spent a few days in Newcastle relaxing before heading back down to London. I enjoyed my trip to Stirling – it’s definitely worth a visit.

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