Saturday 27th May 2017
Returning to Scotland I arrived in the city of Stirling early afternoon having travelled up during the morning so with several hours spare I took the opportunity to take a walk around wonderful Stirling. To start I caught a train away from Stirling just a few miles up the line to Dunblane where I found a signposted path called the Darn Road, an ancient trackway that has been in use since Roman times that came highly recommended. In the days leading up to this holiday the weather had been very warm, but by the time I reached Stirling it was trying to rain and soon after I set off along the Darn Road the heavens really opened prompting me to don all of my waterproofs. The Darn Road doesn’t start well as after a very brief passage through trees it passes along the edge of a golf course, which are not the most relaxing places to walk as you have to careful about stray balls. Eventually the path leaves the side of the golf course and begins to descend into the woodland that lines the Allan Water.
The scenery now improved dramatically as covering the woodland floor were bluebells, which are always a welcome sight even though these were well past their peak and going to seed. I had a little wander around this delightful wood, but didn’t stray too far from the Darn Road, which had started descending steeping into Kippenrait Glen. Following the road down I crossed the Wharry Burn and continued along the Darn Road as it follows the side of the Allan Water. The path was lined with many different flowers of varieties that I am not familiar and some that I could identify like bird’s-foot-trefoil and stitchworts. The great abundance of flowers was something special and particularly as many of them are flowers that I don’t see abundantly in Leicestershire, which makes coming to Scotland that little but more special. There are many paths that descend the steep bank to the river and despite the rain I took advantage of these several times to take a look up and down the tree-lined Water of Allan and enjoy the pleasant surroundings.
A prolonged walk along this road was lightened by the many colours of the rhododendron bushes that seemed to be everywhere. Often when I come to Scotland at the end of May rhododendron is only just coming into flower, but the recent warm weather had ensured that I now had a fabulous display, while ahead of me the National Wallace Monument stood patriotically at the top of Abbey Craig. When I was in Stirling four years ago I headed straight towards Abbey Craig as soon as I got there and now I couldn’t resist coming off the main road to once again explore the woodland that covers this prominent rock. Rather than heading straight up to the monument I came off the direct path and took a route through the northern slopes of the woodland following blue markers. Unfortunately the woodland seemed to be past its best, with the warm weather once again to blame, as there was now a dense covering of leaves that was blocking out all light under the trees and putting a stop to the woodland flowers that are always so appealing in spring. Just as I had seen on the Darn Road earlier the bluebells and ramsons had all gone to seed as their brief opportunity in the sun had ended.
Four years ago when I was in Stirling I had got into the habit of walking around the city walls and exploring the steep wooded slopes below Stirling Castle. This had been the highlight of my time in Stirling and the main reason why I was happy to return to Stirling this year. Once more I went out after dinner to take in the awesome crags that hold up the castle rock and walk along the great paths around this old part of Stirling. The weather on my short walk along the Darn Road may have been poor, but it held during the rest of my weekend in Stirling ensuring that I was able to enjoy another great time in this awesome and historic city of Stirling.