May 24-26, 2000
It is here, the Royal Borough of Stirling, known as the gateway to the highlands, that historic events involving William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce and other figures took place.
I would stay in the youth hostel that has been built from the facade of one of the old churches, only a few doors down from the castle. From the modern rooms, the views over the city and the river are first class; however, it was class trip week and screaming ten year olds would rule the halls until 10pm.
After checking in, I had to look for a fresh tube of toothpaste and went down to the corner shop. Unlike the sign-songy Glaswegian accent, the shopkeeper had firm Braveheartesq accent and mannerisms. Itís quite possible Mel Gibson studied this man, as he most likely visited Stirling, to get the proper feel of the lowlanders. I almost returned to the shop the next day to do the same.
My full day out consisted of a winding stroll through the graveyard, back walk, around Stirling Castle, and then off towards the Wallace monument. From the final observation level, the approaching shower is a sight of wonder (until itís close enough to drench you). The strict diagonal rays of light and water engulfed the strategic Stirling Castle (and soon my head).
While learning the battle history of English arrogance of the time and repeated tactical blunders, this area does not appear a battleground at all; however, it was a worthy place to visit for any hiker, historian or Scottish patriot, which just about anyone visiting here becomes for at least a day.