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Wallace Monument from Stirling Castle
Wallace Monument in the sun, from Stirling Castle

One of the first things that I realized about our trip to Scotland was that everything worth seeing in Scotland is UP. Up a big hill, up a dozen flights of stairs, up a tiny path. Up up up. I spent more time climing hills, climbing steps, climbing...and this one is 246 steps up in a tiny circular staircase on the outer wall. The tower is actually very small, maybe 30 feet square. The staircase is in the tiny rope-like edge, on the left side of the tower in the picture below.

Wallace Monument from the base, the staircase is on the left
From the base of the monument. The staircase is on the left.

The wind was howling all the way up this huge hill (did I mention that not only do you have to climb the tower itself, but you have to hike up the huge hill, too?) and it was actually hard to stand still on the platform. I thought that I was used to "windy" from the gale force winds we often get in the foothills of Colorado. Nope. The wind was physically challenging. Getting inside the tower and starting up the narrow, spiral staircase was a welcome respite from the gale. We clung to the railings at the base of the tower to get a picture of Stirling Castle in the distance.

This tall folly contains displays on each floor (and a welcome place to rest), including a display of statues, a video of Wallace's trial, a replica of his sword, and a map that describes the vista that is visible from the viewing platform up top. The top floor contains a series of carved busts of important Scottish dignitaries, and the tiny door out to the roof.

The top, reached panting and sweating and quite ready to whine, has a truly amazing view over Sitrling and the surrounding countryside. It was gusty up there, and I stayed very close to the center of the platform, although Mark ventured a bit forward. Not that there was really any chance that we'd blow off, but it was scary.

On the way back down, I was commenting that I was glad this wasn't Boulder, CO, where we'd find joggers -- and lo and behold, a RUNNER is heading up the hill. Not two minutes later he was barrelling down the hill at a barely controlled pace. Considering that I was walking down very carefully leaning backwards to avoid running pell-mell down the hill, we decided he was crazy.

Wallace Monument, one of the statues on the outer wall
One of the statues (of Wallace?) on the outer wall

l o c a t i o n
8 miles north of Stirling
On A9 then B998

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