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A visit to National Wallace Monument

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

It’s another beautiful day at Appletree Cottage Loch Lomond so we decide to visit the

National Wallace Monument which is near Stirling

The journey by car takes just over half an hour: from Croftamie we get onto the A811 towards Stirling. Once in Stirling we follow signs for Causewayhead and Bridge of Allan.

At the roundabout at Causewayhead we turn up the hill (just before Correlli's excellent restaurant and ice cream parlour). We follow the road up the hill and park in the free car park at the visitor centre. Tickets to climb the monument can be bought either at the visitor centre or at the foot of the tower itself.

Wallace Monument, Stirling

There is a free minibus shuttle service from the visitor centre up to the base of the monument, even for those without tickets.

If you prefer not to take the minibus the fifteen minute walk along the steep tarmac path up through the woods is enjoyable, not least because of the many wooden sculptures designed by Iain Chalmers along the way. More about them later.

In the end some of us took the bus up, Some walked. We all walked back down.

Once we arrived at the base of the monument the views were already terrific over the Fourth Valley towards looking south over Stirling to the castle and westwards over the village of Bridge of Allan

Inside the National Wallace Monument

On entering the monument there is the ticket counter (but we had already bought our tickets at the visitors centre, where there tends to be less of queue). To the right there is a room with a snack machine, along with a model of the battle of Stirling Bridge. To the left is a well-stocked gift shop. We chose to make our ascent straight away and so started the long climb up the staircase next to the shop.

The stone spiral stair although narrow is wide enough for people to pass each other comfortably.

There are slit windows all the way up which throw light on the steps as well as providing tempting glimpses of view which get ever better as we ascend.

There are 246 steps in total and the monument is 220ft (67 meters) high

Fortunately the climb is punctuated by three large chambers...

The Hall of Arms

After a short climb we come to the first room – The Hall of Arms. This large room with its high vaulted ceiling contains an exhibition of the remarkable life of William Wallace and his victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge There are video enactments information boards and many artefacts around the room. There was a good amount of stained glass commissioned with the building in the monument and the windows of this chamber and the ones above testify to the skill of the craftsmen of the time.

Hall of Heroes

After a good browse around we climb the stairs again and this time arrive in the Hall of Heroes – an identical vaulted space to the Hall of Arms but this time with a collection of busts of famous Scots – poets, writers and inventors who transformed the story of Wallace into the legend we know today. All quite fascinating. Also within the Hall of Heroes is a replica of Wallace's sword , nearly 7ft long and a huge thing to manhandle.

The Royal Chamber

Details about the monument are fascinating. For example that it was built for £13,000 with walls 1.5 meters thick at the top and 15meters thick at the bottom. The design was put out to competition and 106 entries were received. Unfortunately, only the runner up entry plan and J. T. Rochead’s winning design survive on paper. Construction began in 1861 with private subscription. It took eight years to build with local stone from Abbey Craig until completion in 1869 The sighting of the structure on Abbey Craig is significant for a few reasons: 1. It was midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Each city was vying to have the monument within their boundary. 2. Abbey Craig is supposed to be the point from which Wallace is supposed to have surveyed the lie of the land prior to the battle of Stirling Bridge and the place where he and his men camped the night before the battle. A summary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge can be found here: Wallace himself came to a nasty end in London being hung, drawn and quartered on the orders of his old adversary Edward 1st of England in 1305. His sword however survives and a replica can be seen in the hero’s chamber of the monument.

After the Royal Chamber we make our final climb up to the top of the structure, thus completing the full eight of the 246 steps to the top.

At the top the narrow spiral staircase opens out into the sky and a walk way around all four sides of the building.

At the top of the National Wallace Monument

At the end of this walkway are the final steps to the top and inside the crown. The crown is a massive stone structure of columns, rather like flying buttresses all of which run from each corner and half way along each side of the viewing platform and rising up majestically to meet at the apex.

The views to the North, South, East and west are all stunning, the clearer the day, the better.

To the West Ben Lomond on the shore of Loch Lomond can be made out.

To the East the River Fourth meanders towards the more open waters of the estuary. Grangemouth and Alloa were clearly visible on the day we were there and we thought we might be able to just see one of the towers of the new Fourth Bridge.

To the North lies the white buildings of the University of Stirling with the Ochil Hills rising above it.

To the South far below us is the city of Stirling with the castle clearly rising above the old town.

There can be quite a breeze at the top so it is worth considering whether to take a coat or hat & scarf.

After about twenty minutes of viewing from the top we decided to make our way back down again and make our way westwards and home to Appletree Cottage.

This took us down the Wallace Way and to Correri's excellent restaurant / cafe.

Please see our next blog!

Appletree Cottage - luxury fully en-suite catering for eight people situated in the beautiful Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

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