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Stirling and St. Andrews

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Attraction Stirling Chameleon like historic Royal Burgh with changing roles through the ages - Once, Scotland's Strategic stronghold, then Royal court with renaissance architecture, Military garrison and more recently market town turned regional shopping centre. Now a University town with innovation park and tourist mecca which ensures a vibrant and colourful cafe and pub scene. Join the open top Heritage Bus Tour, 01786 475019 for your first glimpse of the town. Take a sweater if you want to enjoy the upper deck to the full.

Stirling CastleHistory and Culture Stirling Castle Pass over the drawbridge and through the guardhouse of Stirling Castle and prepare yourself for stories of intrigue, gory murders, sieges, Stewart patronage and Jacobite risings. Marvel at the restoration of the Great Hall, visit the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, and make sure you spend time in the Royal Palace and Chapel Royal - living history at its spectacular best. If you want an absolute real treat, persuade someone to invite you to a private wedding or function. Imagine yourself as monarch gazing over all you possess - so much history in one view from the Trossachs in the west to the Hillfoots in the east. Cafe and shops keep the whole family involved for hours 01786 450000.

Visitor CentreAttraction Visitor Centre in the esplanade has an excellent audio visual presentation of Royal Stirling. Plenty of souvenirs. Admire the view from the esplanade. 01786 479901.

Argyll's Lodging History and Culture Argyll's Lodging the pink building on the left at the edge of the esplanade - walk into the courtyard, admire the cone shaped towers and explore one of Scotland's finest surviving renaissance buildings. Follow the story of the 9th Earl of Argyll. Impressive restored furnishings recreate renaissance feel. Cosy study used by his wife on first floor. Well worth a visit.

Church of the Holy RudeChurch of the Holy RudeHistory and Culture Church of the Holy Rude Proud and imposing, this parish church has been part of Scottish history for over 500 years. Associations with the Stewarts, John Knox and the protestant reformers. As you marvel at the stained glass windows, look up at the medieval open timber roof. If you are lucky you may happen upon an organ recital. The Guidhall, now a local venue for entertainment, formerly Cowane's Hospital, was bequeathed by one of Stirling's wealthy merchants sits in the grounds.

Thistle Marches Shopping, Goosecroft Rd.Attraction Thistle Marches Shopping, Goosecroft Rd. Bright and cheery shopping mall with all the usual suspects. Marks, Debs, etc as well as Virgin, Oasis, etc for the younger set 01786 470055 - if you are looking for something different for the bathroom try Soaps. Are the kids bored after all that shopping - plenty to do close by - Rainbow Slides - Leisure centre and pool 01786 462521. Ten Pin Bowling just over the bridge and Spencers Leisure in Kerse Road is great for snooker - you will also be able to admire Stephen Hendry's trophys maybe his luck will rub off when you are playing 01786 474558.

Crawford Arcade and Barnton Street Attraction Crawford Arcade and Barnton Street Victorian Arcade recently refurbished and the home of some individual shops. Barnton Bar and Bistro 01786 461698 oposite Stirling's premier fun pub Fubar and near O'neils Irish pub. Visit Scott's Deli - superb selection of real ales and whiskies. Das Indian for authentic Punjabi cuisine 01786 472137. Smiling Jacks cosy tex mex with good food, natchos etc.

Bannockburn Heritage CentreHistory and Culture Bannockburn Heritage Centre A mile or so out of town towards the motorway, Statue of Bruce, triumphantly sitting on his war horse guarding open air Borestone Rotunda. Follow the battle on overhead boards. Excellent audio-visual presentation recreates the wars of independence 01786 812664. Nearby North Third Trout Fishery has bank and boat fly fishing for rainbows, 01786 471967, Brucefields Family Golf Centre pay and play 9 hole and par 3 golf for all with floodlit driving range. Stunning views over the Ochils and Stirling Castle. Healthy choice menu at the cafe. Curlers and skaters look out for Stirling Ice Rink wedged between cricket and rugby clubs at Williamfield on the road to Torbrex 01786 450389.

Stirling BridgeHistory and Culture Stirling Bridge Remember Braveheart, Scotland 1 (captained by Wallace) England 0 (captained by Edward). Every Scot knows the story although the rematches in the 1700's with the Jacobites didn't go so well. Fine stone bridge built near the wooden structure of Wallace's battle. Stand on the bridge, admire the views of the hills and the pencil shape of the national memorial. Further towards the monument stop at Corrieris at the roundabout for delicious ice cream. Big decisions - Fresh pizzas to sit in or a fish supper to take away.

Leonardo & CompanyRestaurants, Cafes, etc. Leonardo & Company - Brew-Bar Bistro with impressive meeting/conference facilities just off the M9 motorway at junction 10. Unusual shaped restaurant on loch side under the castle rock. Stylish modern decor, good ambiance, friendly staff and fresh food. Even the BBQ on the patio at weekends has crisp linen napkins and real steak knives, 01786 465577. Alternatively, stop off at the traditional Riverways Restuarant at Kildean livestock market. Friendly and relaxed, Sunday Scottish high teas are an institution here, 01786 475734.

Ladies RockAttraction Ladies Rock Precarious rock doubling as the original grandstand view for royal tournaments in Kings Park. Worth a walk through the cemetery where the gravestones intermingle with the castle rocks to find the best free views of Stirling and surrounding countryside.

Old TownHistory and Culture Old Town Climb the cobbled hill winding to the castle and picture yourself bartering at the Mercat Cross. Follow the footsteps of the kings. queens and consorts who have passed here. You can really imagine life as it was in this medieval burgh - read the plaques as you wander round and enjoy your day. The ruinous facade of Mars Wark mirrors the fate of the noble family who as keepers of the castle commissioned this superb renaissance building only for the 6th Earl to be ousted as a Jacobite sympathiser during the risings. Coffee shops and restaurants abound. The Portcullis at the top - a traditional pub serving home made bar food gives you a real sense of history 01786 472290. Look out for the witchery tours that start from here - scary but good fun. Hermans - an Old Town award winning restaurant with fine food specialising in Scottish produce is worth a visit. Best to book 01786 450632. Old Town Coffee House for home baking and speciality teas 01786 446469. Whistlebinkies in St Maryís Wynd towards Stirling Bridge is a traditional pub with good food and good Scottish atmosphere 01786 451256. Old High School turned Stirling Highland Hotel has two restaurants 01786 272727.

Old Town JailHistory and Culture Old Town Jail Line up against the back wall as you watch the other wretched prisoners get their dues. Will you be transported to the colonies, or nailed up by the ear to the post. Shudder as you feel the noose. Listen to the cries of the convicted felons two dozen or more to a small room as they are liberated from the towns old jail at the Tolbooth to the comparative comfort of the facilities of the Old Town Jail. Absolutely superlative presentation of barbaric acts, short lived penal reforms, turnscrews and modern day prison life. Wonderful views of Stirling from the tower and exercise yard on the roof (of course, you may have to bribe a warder with your weekly rations to let you out!!!). Definitely worth a visit, leave the kids and pick them up in 6 months - if they survive!! 01786 450050. As you head down St John Street pass the site of the original Erskine Kirk now a youth hostel (although the last time I passed I was stopped by two not very youthful senior citizens in leathers riding Harley Davidsons looking for this establishment).

History and Culture Tolbooth Former administrative building with jail notable for the worst conditions in Scotland, now having intensive reconstruction as a contemporary arts centre with the help of the lottery fund - buy a ticket and help - you might even win the jackpot. Early European Union link with Dutch style roof on the clock tower. Watch out for Darnleys coffee house excellent home baking, snacks and huge choice of toasties. Plaque outside proclaims historical connection to Mary Queen of Scots husband, Lord Darnley 01786 474468.

Friar StreetRestaurants, Cafes, etc. Friar Street and Baker Street Ciociara for Italian 01786 451552, Qismet for tandoori 01786 463075. Pass Hendersons, quality outfitters and kiltmakers. Climb the pedestrian precinct leading to Pub place, Restaurant row and Cafe corner. No matter your taste there is something here for you. Better still try them all. Longhorns American steakhouse, Baker Street Hogshead great traditional pub with real cask ales 01786 448722, Sportsters sports bar with big screen live action, pool and playstations 01786 409000, Oliviaís Restaurant fine Scottish produce with a continental flair 01786 446277, Drouthy Neebors next door informal friendly pub 01786 450858, Nicky Tams Bar warm atmosphere with live nights 01786 472194. Ginger former bank on corner of King Street now creditable bar cafe. Italia Nostra for italian specialities and Victorias Coffee shop 01786 479867.

Albert Hall, Dumbarton RoadAttraction Albert Hall, Dumbarton Road adjacent to the lower Back Walk and flanked by statues of Bruce and Rob Roy, this theatre cum venue with Bistro cafe has been the centre of civic functions for as long as I can remember. Information office nearby with friendly and incredibly knowledgeable staff. Pacos Restaurant along the road serves good range of food - great atmosphere. Before you go clubbing, go across the road to the Yard famous for cocktails and summertime beer garden. Modern chain Cafe Uno on the corner and Ciscos coffee bar along the road towards the Cinema - good cappuccinos! Cross the road to Upper Craigs, picture Gallery with fine paintings as well as All That Jazz, interesting pub 01786 451130 and Best Bar None - modern trendy pub serving coffees and snacks.

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and MuseumHistory and Culture The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum near Kings Park, only a canon balls distance from the castle ramparts. Definite institutional feel as you enter but wonderful collection of paintings. Absorbing exhibition of furniture, costumes and gruesome artifacts each with their own storyboards. Best free parking in Stirling to visit the Old town. Follow the Back Walk running alongside the medieval Town Wall defenses up towards the Guildhall and the Castle. Adjacent, imagine Kings Knot a large formal garden which overlooked Kings Park, the hunting ground for the royal court.

Attraction Kings Park Once the play area of Stewart Kings now you can walk the dog, admire the views, go putting and play tennis but the best fun is at the purpose built skateboard paradise. Stirling Golf Course at the corner under castle rock 01786 464098.

National Wallace MonumentHistory and Culture National Wallace Monument 246 steps, incredible views, Wallaceís famous double handed sword and a battle tent all within this most famous of landmarks. Catapult yourself back 700 years and imagine yourself as one of the freedom fighters. Join in the struggles and the jubilation. Well worth a visit. If you canít manage the climb stop off at the Sword Hotel and gaze up to the monument 01786 473338 or stop off at the William Wallace for a pint 01786 472740. Check out what is on at the MacRoberts Arts Centre, within the grounds of the university. Great cosy semi-circular auditorium with studenty feel, always reminds me of the sixties 01786 461081.

Cambuskenneth AbbeyHistory and Culture Cambuskenneth Abbey Links with all your favourite Scottish characters, Bruce who had a parliament here, James III who is buried here and of course, Abbey itself, would still be here, if the stone hadnít been removed to help build Mars Wark. Bell tower is all that remains. Footpath from town centre or detour via Causwayhead in the car.


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