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Planning the Trip: Leg 4... Stirling

Published: September 2015

DAYS 10-12

Working my way from the Midlothian town of Gorebridge hugging the southern perimeter of Edinburgh, I will stop and take in the history and scenery of Linlithgow and Falkirk. 


Linlithgow is home to the Palace of the same name. Linlithgow Palace sits along edges of Linlithgow Loch. Below is some more information about the palace from the Historic Scotland website.

"Linlithgow Palace stands on a low green promontory overlooking a small inland loch. The name Linlithgow means ‘the loch in the damp hollow’. The location has a history of occupation, possibly reaching back at least to Roman times 2,000 years ago. David I (1124–53) was the first monarch to build a royal residence on the site. He also founded the town that sprang up in its shadow.

The peace of Linlithgow was shattered in 1296 when Edward I of England invaded Scotland. In 1302 the ‘Hammer of the Scots’ had a formidable defense built around the royal residence. He called it his ‘pele’ (from Old French pel, meaning ‘stake’). Nothing of the original Linlithgow Peel survives, but the word is now used for the attractive parkland surrounding the later palace of the Stewarts.

In 1424 a great fire swept through the town. The old palace was badly damaged. James I (1406–37), recently returned from captivity in England, started to build anew. Over the course of the next century and more, his heirs completed the great task. 

The end result was a monumentally impressive quadrangular palace, with four ranges grouped around a central courtyard. At its centre stood James V’s wonderful fountain (1538). James I’s great hall dominated the east quarter. The royal chapel and royal apartments added by James IV (1488–1513) graced the south and west quarters. 

The north quarter came crashing to the ground in 1607, and was rebuilt for James VI (1567–1625). That quarter may have housed the queen’s apartment, meaning that the room where Mary Queen of Scots was born in December 1542 no longer exists."


From there, I will stop in what is now perceived as a modern city but has a deep and dark history - Falkirk. It sits just between Edinburgh and Glasgow - two of Scotland's biggest cities. I am excited to see the more modern installments - the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies at Helix Park (large horse head sculptures). The Falkirk Wheel is a boat transportation wheel - boats load onto the wheel and can be rotated up to the canal or down to the loch which connects to the Forth & Clyde and the Union canals. Falkirk is site to the last battle that William Wallace (Braveheart) fought against King Edward I in which he was captured and taken to London to be executed, drawn and quartered. After his death, the famous Robert the Bruce won the battle at Bonnackburn defeating the English.

The Kelpies at Helix Park are a magnificent tribute to the horses that have been essential to labor throughout history. They are an impressive 100ft tall perfectly engineered equine sculptures made of steel. They were designed by Andy Scott and completed in October 2013. The Kelpies name reflects "the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland's inland waterways. The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area."


Upon arriving to Stirling, I will settle into my accommodations for the next couple of days in a self-catering apartment at a private home tucked into the countryside. It is a quiet one bedroom flat with modern conveniences and a small kitchen.

In Stirling, I will visit Stirling Castle. Similar to Edinburgh Castle, Stirling sits upon old volcanic hilltop. However, Stirling has a the landscape of thousands of acres of rich hills and lush parklands. It is one of Scotland's most grandest castles.

Wallace Monument

The Wallace Monument in Stirling sits atop Abbey Craig is a tribute to William "Braveheart" Wallace (12th century Scottish hero) built in 1869 with a Victorian style. There are 3 exhibits inside the monument, one of which holds William's broadsword (very large battle sword). Nearby is Stirling Bridge where the first battle of Scottish Independence was lead by William Wallace and defeated the English Earl of Surrey. The historical importance of this location to William Wallace's legend was the reason for building the Wallace Monument overlooking this site.

Doune Castle

Below is some information from the Historic Scotland website.

"Doune Castle was the home of Robert Stewart, the 1st Duke of Albany. He was ruler of Scotland, in all but name, from 1388 until his death in 1420.

The castle was long thought to have been entirely built for Albany, but recent research has shown there are significant remains of an earlier castle incorporated into the structure.

Doune’s most striking feature is the 100ft high gatehouse which includes the splendid Duke’s Hall with its musicians’ gallery, double fireplace and carved oak screen. 

This impressive architecture has made it popular with production companies. It was Swamp Castle, Castle Anthrax and Camelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and more recently a location in the pilot for Game of Thrones and the fictional Castle Leoch for the TV adaption of the Outlander novels."

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