Top 10 hidden gems beyond Stirling
Now that you’ve been all over Stirling, explored the Castle, enjoyed the Holy Rude and visited The Old Town Jail, here are our ten favourite things to do in the Stirling area…
1. Doune Castle
Once home to the Regent Albany, Scotland’s “Uncrowned King”, Doune Castle is a medieval stronghold set in the picturesque countryside of Stirlingshire. Originally built in the 14th century, Robert Stewart, the 1st Duke of Albany, acquired the grounds for the castle in 1361 and from then it became a royal retreat until 1603. In recent times, it has been a popular site for filming, setting the scene for famous movies and tv shows such as Monty Python, Game of Thrones and Outlander. Situated on the River Teith, the Castle also enjoys stunning views of Ben Lommond and the Ochill Hills, perfect for any Instagram profile.
2. Rob Roy’s Grave
The final resting place of legendary outlaw Rob Roy is set in the historic village of Balquihidder in Central Scotland. Located at the foot of Loch Voil, Rob Roy’s grave has become a popular tourist attraction, and is surrounded by impressive scenery which enjoys great walking and cycling routes. When visiting this spot, be sure to also call by the “friend’s room” and learn all about the Reverend Robert Kirk who was famous for his documentation of faeries!
3. The Steamship Sir Walter Scott Ltd
For a great family day out, why not head to Loch Katrine, home of The Steamship Sir Walter Scott. As one of Scotland’s hidden gems, a cruise on the The Steamship Sir Walter Scott allows for a peaceful and unique way to take in the surrounding scenery and is a great way to explore the loch. With almost a century of sailing experience, this world-famous steamship has captivated thousands of visitors and the surrounding loch has inspired many poets and artists alike. The ship itself is also environmentally friendly, running on bio-fuel, and is wheelchair accessible.
4. Deanston Distillery
For those of the legal drinking age, a little taste of Deanston’s range of handcrafted Scotch Whiskies is a must. Set on the banks of the River Teith, Deanston Distillery is the perfect location to enjoy a sweet honeyed malt. The Distillery’s rich tradition of handcrafting techniques is what gives a Deanston whisky its unique flavour, and with all crops being sourced from Scottish farms, the Distillery has remained true not just to tradition, but to the local community. Just a short way away from Stirling, and a 40 minute drive from Edinburgh & Glasgow, Deanston Distillery is a great destination with a wide range of tours from heritage to whisky and chocolate tasting!
5. Argaty Red Kites
Home to central Scotland’s only Red Kite feeding stating, Argaty Red Kites is a fantastic place to observe these magnificent birds in a natural environment. Situated on Leerocks Farm, visitors can enjoy birdwatching and learn about the collective effort of farmers and wildlife conservationists, with the aim of the project being to create a self-sustainable colony of Red Kites that will thrive in the wild. It is also a great place for a family picnic, and visitors can also enjoy the Bumblebee garden, accessible facilities and an all-abilities walking route. It’s also dog friendly (provided your canine friend remains on a leash)!
6. Hamilton Toy Museum
An must see for toy enthusiasts, Hamilton Toy Museum and Collector’s Shop is a unique and interesting place, situated in the stunning town of Callander. With the largest collection of privately owned toys in the UK, Hamilton’s Toy museum will take you back in time and bring back all the nostalgia of childhood with your favourite games, figurines, dolls and stuffed bears. Displayed over two floors, exhibitions range from Edwardian nurseries, for the more historically minded, to the incredible sci-fi room, jam packed and cool enough to satisfy any self-proclaiming nerd or pop culture fanatic. Opened from Easter to October, this little gem is a great way to indulge your inner child.
7. Sheriffmuir Atlantic Wall
Used as a weapons practice site in preparation for the D-Day landings in Normandy, this historic wall is an incredible find for archaeology, heritage and history buffs. Built in 1943 in the hills above Dunblane, the Sherriffmuir Atlantic Wall is an impressive partition about 262 ft in length and almost 10ft in height, believed to have been built to recreate and simulate the conditions of trenches in France. In recently years it has caught the attention of archaeologists from Glasgow University and Dunblane Museum who are working to bring the history of this unique place, and ones like it, to life.
8. The Pineapple
An eccentric 18th century summer house located in the village of Dunmore near Falkirk, The Pineapple is a great place for those that fancy a fruity taste of some Scottish exoticism! Built in 1777, this iconic landmark was commissioned for the 4th Earl of Dunmore, with recent renovations being completed in 2014. Just as impressive as its pineapple top is the elegant interior of the building, and the impressive walled garden located a short distance from the main house.
9. The Battle of Bannockburn
This 3D immersive experience is a family favourite, located on the site where Robert the Bruce mobilised the Scottish Army against Edward II in 1314. Designed to bring local Scottish history to life, visitors can enjoy 3D films about the battle and surrounding area and can face off opponents in interactive battle challenges. This virtual environment brings together medieval history and innovative technology to give a thoroughly unique historical experience, making real the 14th century battle for audiences in the 21st century. For those willing to brave the battlefield, there is also a café and shop which visitors can enjoy in the Visitor Centre.
Thoroughly charming, the Royal Burgh of Culross is a quaint little village situated within the Kingdom of Fife. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the quiet, tranquil streets of the village by the River Forth, or explore the 16th century lodgings of Culross Palace. Filled with many unique and historical buildings, Culross offers its visitors a step back in time and many of its buildings are cared for by the National trust for Scotland. The historical setting of this Royal Burgh has always been a favourite place for visitors, and you might even recognise its picturesque setting from tv shows and movies like The Little Vampire, Captain America and Outlander!