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Once known as the “Gateway to the Highlands”, Stirling today lends its name to both the city and the council area that surrounds it. The region stretches from Ben Lui to Loch Tay in the north, through Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park and down to the borders of Falkirk, North Lanarkshire and East and West Dunbartonshire. A land of lakes and mountains, with a historic and picturesque city at its heart, Stirling is a slice of Scotland begging to be explored.
Stirling has its own train station, just a half hour from Glasgow and fifty minutes from Edinburgh, but it can be easily accessed and explored by car or bus. If you’re not bringing a vehicle into Stirling, rest assured that you can easily hire a car once you’ve arrived in the city. Stirling is home to several car rental companies, as well as numerous supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, petrol stations and shops. Two main roads run out of Stirling, the A811, which heads west to Loch Lomond and the A84, which heads north, through Callander and past Loch Lubnaig, before turning west at Bovain. Other smaller roads connect the A84 and the A811 to the more remote towns and natural areas in the region.
Any driving tour of Stirling must begin with an extensive tour of the city of Stirling. This hilly city is memorable for the stunningly well-preserved Stirling Castle, the famous Wallace Monument, the winding banks of the Forth River and the narrow cobbled lanes of Stirling’s Old Town. Just outside the city, only a ten minute car journey south, lies the historic town of Bannockburn, where Scottish hero Robert the Bruce famously triumphed over English forces in 1314. Other top spots to explore include the historic ruins at Mar’s Wark and the Church of the Holy Rude, which was built in the 15th Century and is notable for its beautiful stained glass windows.
Once you’ve explored the city, you’ll want to drive up into the Trossachs National Park, where you’ll find secluded lakes and densely wooded hills. For a particularly scenic drive, start in the pretty riverside town of Callander, about a 30 minute car journey from Stirling. Nestled on the River Teith, the town is home to quaint bed & breakfasts, charming restaurants and a popular beauty spot at Bracklinn Falls. From Callander, take the A821 west, driving past Loch Venachar and following the road as it curves around Loch Achray, providing some stunning views of the lake and the secluded Trossachs Church. You can also stop off at nearby Loch Katrine, which famously inspired Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake. From there, follow the A821 down to the village of Aberfoyle, where you can either connect to the B829 and head back north, or continue south to the A811, which will carry you west to bonny Loch Lomond: the largest and most famous of the lakes in this region.