Often the best things in life are free. There’s plenty to get up to in and around Stirling without spending a penny.
The Stirling Smith Museum and Gallery – did you know that Stirling has the world’s oldest football? Scottish history collections, fine art and archaeology are used in the main display, called ‘The Stirling Story’, which explores the history of the town over the past Millennium.
The Church of the Holy Rude Founded in 12th century, the church is the second oldest building in Stirling. Rumor has it that king James IV may have even helped build it. See the rounded Scots pillars, Gothic arches and original oak-timbered roof and stained glass windows. The coronations of James IV and James VI took place here.
Stirling’s Heritage Artist – Situated in the ancient alms house, Cowane’s Hospital, Iona’s studio was once a bedroom for two of the ‘decayed Guild brethren’ of Stirling. She paints vividly about the built, natural and human landscapes of Scotland’s heart. Cowane’s Hospital hall is open daily and a range of her cards, prints and original mixed media paintings are on permanent show.
Bridge of Allan Parish Church is a must for architectural enthusiasts. Revolutionary Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the chancel furnishings including the communion table, pulpit and organ screen in 1904. John Honeyman, a partner in the same practice designed the church halls and house for the caretaker in 1895.
Allanwater Brewhouse – located in the picturesque town of Bridge of Allan lets you see behind the scenes of a working micro-brewery. You can meet the brewer and learn the secrets of making a traditional hand-brewed Scottish pint using 100 percent natural ingredients. Entry and tastings of Allanwater’s best-selling cask ales is free.
Cambuskenneth Abbey is one of Scotland’s most important abbeys and is home to a fine collection of medieval grave slabs and architectural fragments. A footbridge links the Shore to the Abbey of which only the Campanile, 1300, and west doorway survive. It has a dramatic early gothic bell tower in beautiful stonework. It was at Cambuskenneth Abbey in 1488 that James III was buried after the Battle of Sauchieburn.
Kinneil Museum – Located in the 17th century stable block of Kinneil House, the museum acts as an interpretative centre for Kinneil Estate. The exhibition 2,000 Years of History tells the story of the park from Roman times to the present day. Antoninus Pius, St Serf, Mary, Queen of Scots and James Watt are among the many historical characters associated with the estate.
Maid of the Loch – Loch Lomond’s Paddle Steamer. Visit her by the world famous Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, at Balloch Pier. Maid of the Loch is the last in a long line of paddle steamers on Loch Lomond, dating back to 1818. She was the last major paddle steamer built in Britain, and the last paddle steamer built for the railway.
Dollar Museum – Whether you want to learn about the 877 Battle of Dollar or see Neolithic stone carvings, this museum is packed full of fascinating exhibits with a comprehensive collection of pieces illustrating the history of the village. This includes a collection of photographs and a recreated old fashioned kitchen.
Callandar House – From picnics in the park to ancient artefacts. Get close to nature in the woodland walks, or get close to history with a visit to a section of Antoine wall. Take a tour round the house which is bursting with historical exhibitions and a working Georgian kitchen. Visit The Park Gallery. And let the kids blow off steam in the outdoor play area.
You can also appreciate some of Scotland’s natural beauty without spending a penny. Enjoy the Falls of Falloch or the Falls of Dochart. Climb Dumyat or Ben Lomond or enjoy a nature reserve such as Kinneil or Inchcailloch.