Stirling Countryside from on high
Stirling is a small town but she did achieve City Status during Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee Celebrations. Known as the Broch of Scotland Stirling claspes the Highland's and Lowlands together. The finest sights of Ben Lomond, the Trossachs, Forth Valley and the Ochil and Pentland hills are best viewed from high points such as Abbey Craig and the ramparts of Stirling Castle. The landscape around Stirling where once great battles were fought now holds peaceful serenity it is truely stunning.
City Of Stirling 10K
The City of Stirling 10K is a mass-participation road race which has been held for the last 5 years. This year's race, in September 2006, was the first in which I have taken part (although I have been running intermittently (and slowly) for the last few years).
The course is virtually flat, good for first-timers and personal bests, though it is fair to say it doesn't fully harness the grandeur and history of Stirling. Which would however require some steep hills. Instead, it starts and finishes at Forthbank, outside the football ground, with the lead out past the sewage works and the army base. So strange smells, barbed wire and large guns ahoy. Then the route skirts a large and empty car park and a 'development site' (ie more or less wasteground). Have I sold this to you yet ;-? It does improve then, passing through Riverside, across the Forth, through the quaint village of Cambuskenneth, beneath the Wallace Monument, and back through Causewayhead (past the B&B zone) towards the Castle, then back by the Forth towards the artillery and aromas, to the stadium.
No pictures of the race itself ( I was too busy running!). First pic is somewhere you will pass, at about 5K. The second is some trees near the stadium, I just liked the colours. Though since the pictures were taken April and October, they'll look different on raceday.
Oh, and my time was 58.17 (self-timed) - hardly a leading performance (I did say I run slowly) but, as I could barely train before due to a chest infection, I was well pleased with it.
If you are interested in running, see bpacker's album about her years journey from VT-foodie and sometimes jogger to marathon runner.
Doune is a fairly pretty village about 8 miles from Stirling - the castle is - not a ruin but not developed - it really gives you a sense of the history - and some vertiginous battlements - actually, I have not been there for some time - I hope it has not been 'developed' - an interesting contrast to Stirling Castle.
Update: Made it back to Doune Castle for a quick visit. Glad to say still much the same, except you cannot currently get out onto the battlements. See my travelogue for some more pictures.
Inside the walls is mainly a grass square (with an old well) and makes an atmospheric spot for a picnic.
Entrance: £3 adult; £1child; £2.30 reduced.
The weblink is specifically for Doune Castle but it is worthwhile to check out the whole site at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk. As well as info on individual sites, there is also info on the Historic Scotland pass which could save a bit of money if you intend to visit a lot of their sites, which include Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle
Loch of Achray
One of the smaller Lochs in the trossachs national park, Loch of Achray is none the less very scenic.
There are some nice walks in the forests above the loch, which are well signed and not to difficult.
About 8ms North of Aberfoyle off the A821
Blair Drummond Safari Park - another place that, as a local., I have not visited for some time - but it's like the description - its a park - it has safari animals. Around 5 miles from Stirling along A84.
Ticket also includes extras; eg pedal boats; astraglide, sea lion show, pets farm, in addition to the wild animal reserves.
Prices (2006): Adults £9.50; Children (3-14)/Seniors/Special Needs £6; Under 3s free.