Saturday, 3 April 2010

In Wallace's Shadow

Yesterday I decided to take advantage of the good weather and go off for a walk around Stirling. As ever, I took my camera with me and you can see my photos on my Flickr page. I decided to head for some of the areas I don't know so well and made for Riverside and Cambuskenneth. And what a good choice that turned out to be.

After walking through the city centre, past the shoppers on Port Street and heading for the The Thistles, I made for Stirling's new bridge which crosses the railway and joins the existing city to the new area being developed at Forthside.  Once across the bridge I headed for Riverside itself. Cunningly named, this area of the city is - you've guessed it - next to the River Forth. In fact, it's where the old port of Stirling used to be. It's hard to imagine Stirling as a port city with the river as silted up as it is now, but at one time it was a bustling trading centre and the port was a main transportation point.

When you're in Riverside you can't miss the river, although it's not at all obvious from the much of the rest of the city. At this point, the River Forth winds its way across the land in huge meanders, confusing the unknowing walker and constraining and directing the built landscape in all sorts of interesting ways.

From Riverside I crossed the Forth to Cambuskenneth and visited the Abbey there, which I discovered is the last resting place of King James III and his wife, Queen Margaret (one of the many Scottish Queen Margarets there have been through history!). Apparently they weren't a very popular couple!

One of the other delights I discovered in Cambuskenneth was a Provost's Lamp-post. I'd heard about these but never seen one yet. Tradition has it that when someone is elected Provost of Stirling they are entitled to have a special lamp-post erected outside their home, originally to allow the good burghers know where to find their elected representative, nowadays more likely as a status symbol (for the cynical) or mark of respect (for the less cynical).

And then it was back across the Forth to Riverside and a wander towards Stirling's other (and some would say, true) iconic bridge, passing Stirling Boat Club on the way and an interesting gem of a 1960's/70's concrete frieze hidden on the side of what looks like an old pumping or gas sub station by the river. The current Old Stirling Bridge dates from the 1500s when it would have been an important crossing point of the river. It isn't the same bridge that there was a battle about in 1297, which most likely a wooden structure and in a completely different place. Although not used for vehicles now, it does still stand close to the only traffic crossing of the River Forth within the city itself.

From Old Stirling Bridge I walked down to Causewayhead and stopped for coffee in Corrieri's, the first time I'd visited the much esteemed establishment, but certainly not the last. If I could eat pizza I would be there every week - the smell coming from the kitchen was truly inviting.

From Corrieri's it was a short walk to Bridge of Allan, a wander round the shops there, picking up a few goodies from Clive Ramsay's wonderful delicatessan, before heading back to Stirling on the train. And throughout the whole day's wander I was never far from the River or away from a view of the Wallace Monument or the Castle.

Stirling is an incredibly compact and eminently walkable city, I'm just amazed that more people don't do it more often. Want my advice? Want a weekend with a difference, book yourself into a hotel or B&B in or around Stirling, get your walking shoes on and enjoy a different pace of life in this amazing city!

No comments: