Interview: Exploring Stirling

As someone who shares tips for visiting a host of European locations in the Europe a la Carte travel blog, travel writer Karen Bryan seemed the ideal person to ask about visiting Stirling.  Find out what Karen recommends you do in the place she called home for many years.

Looking west from Stirling Castle, credit Karen Bryan

You write about the ‘best places to visit in Europe’ in your travel blog – what do you feel makes Stirling a top location?
Stirling is an attractive small city with a good choice of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes and its central location enables many day trips within 60 minutes travel time.

If a visitor only has a short time to explore Stirling, what would you recommend they do?
Visit Stirling Castle, the Old Town Cemeteries, the Wallace Monument and the Smith Art Gallery & Museum, with a coffee stop at the Tolbooth Cafe and lunch/dinner at the River House Restaurant.

What is your favourite walk in the area?
The Dam Walk, which is a circular walk starting in Bridge of Allan and along the banks of Allan Water.  You can park in Blairforkie Drive, or Bridge of Allan railway station is close by.  You can either go all the way to Dunblane or do a shorter walk by crossing the footbridge.  The Dollar Glen Walk in nearby Clackmannanshire leads up to Castle Campbell.

What would you recommend for visitors looking to get off the beaten track?
A trip to Inchmahome Priory on the island on the Lake of Menteith, but check the opening hours before visiting.  The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park near Aberfoyle has a cafe, picnic benches and some fab views.  You’ve to pay to park there, it’s £1 for one hour and £3 for the whole day.  The Clachan Inn in Drymen is said to be the oldest pub in Scotland.

What did you love the most about living in Stirling?
Stirling had all the conveniences that I needed without being a sprawling, busy city.  Even in the city centre, you felt close to the countryside with the backdrop of the Ochil Hills.  I could either be in Edinburgh city centre, or the Perthshire countryside, in less than one hour.

Sir Walter Scott steamer on Loch Katrine

Sir Walter Scott steamer on Loch Katrine, credit Karen Bryan

What day trips do you suggest for visitors staying in Stirling?
Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth are great city destinations which can all be reached by rail from Stirling.  You could drive out to the Trossachs to take a steamer trip on Loch Katrine, with a stop for a look at the shops in Callander and a walk along the old railway line.  The eastern bank of Loch Lomond is in Stirlingshire.  You can drive to the town of Balmaha on the loch shore, which is on the West Highland Way.  The Blair Drummond Safari Park is a good day out with kids.

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