The National Wallace Monument, Stirling
Descending the Wallace Way
Having spent a good amount of time on the viewing floor at the top of the National Wallace Monument (see photo) we made our way back down the 246 steps and out onto the terrace below.
The sun was still up and the views across Stirling and the surrounding countryside were terrific.
On the West side of the terrace a path leads back to the Visitor Centre where our car was parked. The path is called Wallace Way...
The path down is reasonably steep but is surfaced with tarmac and quite suitable for those with a wee one in a buggy. The Wallace Way has been adorned with wood carvings created by Iain Chalmers. The walk takes visitors on a journey through time to learn more about Stirling's fascinating history. As we are descending the hill we seeing the sculptures in reverse order, going back in time as we proceed. The first carving up is an excellent representation of the National Wallace Monument standing about 7ft tall (2.1 meters) and carved from a single piece of wood.
The carving trail of Wallace Way, Abbey Craig, Stirling
Further on down the hill is an image of a pilot holding the propeller of his aircraft. This is in celebration of Frank and Harold Barnwell who were born in Lewisham, London and moved to Balfron aged 2. They set up the Grampian Engineering and Motor Company in Causswayhead (just at the foot of the hill) in 1907 and produced their first aircraft there in 1908. However, they had problems getting their aircraft airborne. It wasn’t until 1909 that they managed to fly to the recorded height of 13ft (3.9 meters), landing after 80 yards in a field near Causewayhead. This short hop was Scotland’s first powered flight.
Next, we encounter a couple of busts. One of King Robert the Bruce and one of Robert Burns, reminding us to visit the Hall of Heroes Chamber in the Monument.
The Hall of Heroes is a large room in the tower of the Wallace Monument containing a large number of busts of Scottish heroes from the past (please see previous blog)
A railway locomotive and wagon are the next creations we pass. Kids seem to love climbing on board. The train is to commemorate the small railway which was built to ferry the stone from Abbey Craig Quarry to the monument during construction.
At the junction of the footpath and the minibus route there is a carving celebrating the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297). William Wallace’s tactic at the Battle of Stirling Bridge was aided by the narrowness of the bridge at the time. Only two horses could pass each other. This meant that it took ages for the English army to cross the bridge heading northwards. When more than half the English army had crossed the bridge Wallace sprung the trap and surrounded them on the North bank of the Forth whilst at the same time blocking their escape over the bridge. This resulted in slaughter and a bloody victory for Wallace.
One impressive thing about these sculptures is that many, if not all, appear to be fashioned from a single piece of timber.
Other carvings on the route represent the flora and fauna of the area, a bench with three characters carved sitting on it. These are a Roman, a Pict and a Viking. The heads are missing so visitors may stand behind and place their own heads at the top of the mannequins for photographic purposes. A man holding a hammer above a modern looking anvil depicts Scotland’s First Metalworkers
Semi domesticated animals, comprising a sheep, a pig and a very nice pair of highland cows remind us of Scotland’s first farmers.
A large whale sculpture tells us that whales abounded in 5000bc whilst a collection of wild animals including a bear take us back to the ice age 10,000 years ago.
More information about the Wallace Way can be found here: www.legendsatthemonument.co.uk/william-wallace-stirling/the-wallace-way/
By this point we are back at the visitor centre where we’ve parked our car. Had we had more time we could have explored some of the many other paths and trails on Abbey Craig, all of which are free. It was unfortunately, nearly time to go home.
Corrieris Cafe, Causwayhead
Just before going home though we popped into one of our favourite cafes which lies adjacent to the roundabout at the foot of the hill: Corrieris. An Italian ice cream parlour and Italian restaurant founded 40 years ago and still producing excellent food and friendly service. More about Corrieri’s can be found here: corrieris.co.uk
Appletree Self Catering Cottage, Loch Lomond
After a beautifully cooked meal we drove the 35 minutes back to Appletree Cottage:
Appletree Cottage - luxury fully en-suite catering for eight people situated in the beautiful Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Find out more about us at www.lomondappletree.co.uk