If you’re traveling to Scotland, there are three places that generally come to mind. But, aside from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and The Highlands, there’s another place that should be on your list when visiting Scotland, and one where you should certainly dedicate yourself to a day trip from either Edinburgh or Glasgow – Stirling.
Located just over an hour train ride northwest of Edinburgh, Stirling is a deeply beautiful and historic city with roots that stretch back to the very beginning of Scotland, itself.
Stirling has always been synonymous with battle, and it was said in the middle ages that whoever controlled Stirling (and more importantly, Stirling Castle), controlled Scotland. Location has much to do with this, as Stirling is situated strategically between Glasgow and Edinburgh, yet just north and on the very doorstep of The Highlands.
Stirling is the site of numerous famous military conquests by the likes of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, including Bruce’s famous 1314 quest over the armies of Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn. The victory reclaimed Stirling Castle from Edward’s possession, giving it back to the Scots along with hard-fought independence.
Today, sites such as Bannockburn are commemorated, which Stirling Castle, and the William Wallace Monument serve to remind Scots of their proud and courageous past.
Getting to Stirling
Getting to Stirling for a day trip from either of Scotland’s two major cities is simple. First, we always use Omio for train travel in Europe (especially the United Kingdom). Formerly GoEuro.com, Omio has rebranded, and is one of our favorite transportation providers in Europe.
When you book your tickets, you’ll either book as one-way or two-way fares. We like booking two-ways, typically for an “up and back” in the same day. You can always book an overnighter and find an affordable hotel if you’re looking to potentially stay longer in the city where you’re day trip is locations, and Stirling is one of those places you might consider.
Overall, the price of tickets are very affordable at only around $80 round-trip for a couple coming from Edinburgh. From Glasgow, prices are slightly reduced as the distance is only about 3/4 of the travel time from Edinburgh to Stirling.
What to Do in Stirling
Stirling is one of our favorite day trips we’ve done in Europe, largely on the strength of a few things you can do in the city that leave a lasting impact.
The truth is, on most day trips you don’t have time for a lot of exploring. Day trips are best for either one of two situations. One situation is the one in which you are visiting a city with a strong but walkable city center area with a lot of things to do. This doesn’t really accurately describe Stirling, as it’s a small town with a somewhat loose city center area that lacks a “downtown” type of vibe.
The other day trip you should take, which absolutely describes Stirling, is in visiting a city with a handful of rich, cultural attractions and sites that simply aren’t replicated anywhere else in the world. In Stirling, you’ll find these locations in the William Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle, Cambuskenneth Abbey, the Church of the Holy Rude, and Bannockburn.
While we’ve discussed Stirling Castle, it’s important to understand how important this castle really is to European history – not just Scottish. Stirling Castle is commonly understand as the most brilliant castle the United Kingdom, if not Europe. It dwarfs nearby Edinburgh Castle in size, and the comparable castles in England fail to match Stirling in its design, brilliance, and beauty. Standing on the edge of the property line and looking toward the rolling of the land northward toward the Highlands gives you a truly magical feeling.
The Wallace Monument is a tower located only 5-minutes by car away from Stirling Castle. While you may map this and decide you want to walk, you’ll find that the deeply descending hill coming from Stirling is only a primer for the steep uphill drive to the Wallace Monument. Once there, you’ll enjoy scaling this proud tower floor by floor as you view various exhibitions detailing the life of Scotland’s greatest national hero.
The best part, however, might just be the view from atop the Wallace Monument!
Cambuskenneth Abbey, the ruined 12th century monastery located in Stirling, is one of the most historically important abbeys in Scotland, and another place you should see if time permits. While not a “must-see” for most, if you’re particularly attracted to Scottish history and classically ruined structures, it’s a powerful ruin to see.
Overall, Stirling is a charming location that is among one of the most naturally stunning in the United Kingdom. Even if you aren’t necessarily a history buff that is studied up on Scottish lore, it’s a place you must see if you’re within a day’s trip.
Considering the history of Scotland (and Europe) having had two of its most notable heroes come from Stirling, it gives the small town a right of its own as one of the small wonders of Europe that should absolutely be seen.
Source link A Couple For The Road