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Can you Brave It?
Stirling in general
Member Name: spangle359
Stirling in general
Advantages: steeped in history, a lively town with a great atmosphere
Disadvantages: built on a hill
Stirling is located in Central Scotland, almost halfway between its better knows cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Road and rail links are excellent for travelling in any direction. Airports at Glasgow and Edinburgh are each within an hour’s journey.
The City (status gained in 2002) of Stirling is quite unique in that it manages to remain an historic town with many ancient buildings, steeped in history as well as a new, vibrant town centre. Both cultures live in perfect harmony with neither detracting from the other.
Stirling is known as Braveheart country and, thanks to Mel Gibson, tourism in the town has greatly increased. You can find many references to William Wallace throughout the city and if you are feeling really energetic you can take a trip to the outskirts of the town and visit the monument to him. It is quite fascinating and exhausting as you climb to the top of the tower but the views are breath-taking.
Stirling is surrounded by the Ochil Hills, where there are many excellent walking routes around the surrounding villages whose residents support the town.
Stirling Castle is one of the best examples of Scottish castles, it sits high above the town and is definitely worth a visit. The castle has recently undergone extensive restoration and has been restored to its former glory. The kitchens are quite amazing and you are really transported back in time as you stand in the middle of the mayhem of a typical castle kitchen. The climb to the castle is very steep, although there are regular buses from the town. Once again, the views are stunning. You can easily spend a whole day wandering around the castle and the grounds, there are also picnic areas within the grounds as well as tea-rooms and a snack bar. The castle really deserves its own review but for more information, opening times, entrance fees etc. go to: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/stirling/sti rlingcastle/
The town is absolutely steeped in history and as you wander along the cobbled streets of the old town you will come across some incredible buildings dating back to the 14th century and beyond. You should take time to visit The Old Town Jail and the Tolbooth, both of which have lively presentations by actors employed to recreate the days when these buildings were in use. Robert Spittal’s House, Lord Darnley’s House, The Holy Rude Church, Albert Halls and the Municiple buildings are all worth a visit, although you would certainly need more than a day to cover all of those. The sites of the battle of Stirling Bridge is a short walk away and the Bannockburn centre is an ideal visit for all the information and details of that historic battle…again that is probably a visit in itself.
The town is pedestrianised in the centre so wandering around is easy. It is built on a hill though so wheelchair access can be difficult but mobility is aided by wheelchair hire companies in the town centre.
The town centre itself remains relatively unchanged with old buildings housing new businesses. You have to look above street level to appreciate the buildings though as shops and offices at eye level mirror any large town or city with bright signage and fluorescent lighting. All the major retailers are present in the town as are many individual shops that are particular to Stirling. Small businesses offering specific products do very well here. There are several souvenir shops and the goods on offer are of a very high standard, usually because they are hand-made locally.
In the past 15 years, Stirling has added another shopping mall, again it has been added to the town without intruding on the beauty of the town. There is really nothing that you can’t buy in Stirling.
There are hundreds of bars and restaurants throughout the town. There are several restaurants offering traditional Scottish food as well as Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mexican, in fact anything you could mention, you can find to eat in Stirling. There is everything from a basic sandwich to a five star restaurant. For something really special though, I would go the the Old School Restaurant. This is part of the old Stirling High School, which is still in operation as an Hotel. The restaurant is renowned for its food and the setting is very traditional. For a quick and cheerful Mexican meal I would head for Smiling Jacks, has a bit of a café feel to it but the food is fabulous. There are Chinese and Indian buffets for anyone wishing a quick and cheap meal and loads of small restaurants catering for the wide diversity of visitors to the town.
Bars are equally diverse, there is a large student population in Stirling so there are lots of young people in the town. This gives it a vibrancy of its own. Bars, clubs and restaurants cater well for this age group. However there are also many quieter bars where you can sit in front of a log fire in the winter and where you might find someone picking up a guitar or some other instrument and an impromptu musical evening will be in full flow before you know it. Stirling is very much like that, a very spontaneous town. Groups of people of all ages and races mix very well.
Stirling University has one of the most amazing campuses in Scotland and anyone privileged enough to study there fully appreciates the beauty of the site. It has its own lake and full sports arena. It is a world recognized university and produces excellent results.
Hotels and Guest houses tend to be of a fairly high standard. There are many to choose from and prices vary accordingly. There is everything from nearby castles to a humble B and B. It would take many pages of a review to highlight these so I would suggest looking at http://www.stirling.co.uk/accommodation/hotels.htm
For further information on hotels and restaurants. At the top of the range, I would recommend Airth Castle or Dunblane Hydro, both are an experience in themselves but you might not want to leave and appreciate the town. These are both incredibly expensive places to stay but if you have a very special occasion, then well worth it. At mid-range I would suggest The Terraces or Park Lodge Hotel, very well appointed hotels offering excellent facilities and in the centre of the town. Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels in Stirling are subject to very strict local controls. It would be highly unlikely that you would find anywhere that is not of a good standard. The local authority is very diligent in its pursuit of offering only quality accommodation in Stirling.
I could go on and on for ever on the subject of Stirling, but if you have a spare day or two, forget the hustle and bustle of Glasgow and Edinburgh and travel to Stirling. If you are visiting Scotland then this is a city that you must visit. It really does have something for everyone
Summary: Stirling is one of the most historic cities in the UK, a must for anyone visiting Scotland