The national Wallace monument was commissioned in 1861 to commemorate one of Scotlands most iconic of heroes; William Wallace. There was talk of putting the Wallace monument in Glasgow initially but as the residents of Edinburgh were infuriated by this, an agreement was reached and Stirling was chosen as the place to erect it.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we decided to go and see it but we knew it was a huge tower monument erected for Sir William Wallace and overlooks the place where the Battle of Stirling was fought and won. (I didn’t even know there was a battle at Stirling but I believe its in Braveheart too. Probably a movie I should watch again). We decided we couldn’t not see it and, not being quite sure whether we could even go up the tower, we thought we’d pop in anyway and see what happened.
It turns out its a huge tower situated on a hill. You can see it as soon as you enter Stirling and it looks so high up and impressive that you want to see what’s at the top. It’s really child and baby friendly and it turns out that almost two thirds of what you see is a huge hill. There is a big free car park and a tourist center and gift shop at the bottom. You can have a wander about and pick up a guide or pick up a tour guide and then make your wayt to the top. There’s a very scenic forest type route and a very flat but slightly steep smooth road so the Wallace monument is stroller friendly but be prepared for giving your calves a bit of a work out. We stuck the baby in a baby carrier and walked a steep walk through the little forest and I was already breathless by the time we got to the front door of the monument, I’m that unfit! There’s a bus you can take too if you’re not feeling up to it but seeing as even our 5 year old was bouncing up the hill, I felt a bit of a wimp taking public transport. If you do decide to take your stroller then you can leave it in the foyer of the monument and it’ll be safe there as there’s staff on the ground floor.
The monument has a huge spiral staircase and you can climb straight to the top. It reminded me a lot of the Scott monument in Edinburgh the way you can stop off at different levels and how it gets narrower and narrower the further up you go. Its open to the public all the time but the tower itself has regular opening hours and there’s a car park situated right next to the visitors centre (with decent baby changing facilities!).
The William Wallace monument has 246 steps and you can stop off for little breaks (or to have a sleep / collapse on the floor) at each of the levels and take a look at all the museum and historical pieces that are on display. We even saw William Wallace’s actual sword and it’s HUGE. I’m pretty sure it’s about my height, not that I’m that tall but he was apparently well over 6 feet in height and I guess could lift it with ease. Even if you’re really unfit it’s well worth going to the top. It gets so narrow the further up you go but the views were beautiful once we’d clambered up there. It was really REALLY blustery though and the barriers are very safe but you still feel a bit like you’ll be blown off the top. We spent a lot of time telling Z to not run about. He didn’t listen of course and had a brilliant time running from pillar to pillar. There’s a beautifully carved dome feature at the tip of the tower and the views of Stirling are sstunning, even if a little wet and windy.
The walk down is definitely a lot easier and we found some guides all dressed in period clothing. They are really enthusiastic and its worth joining a group if you can as they take you on a tour of the grounds and through the woods. I’d definitely combine it all with Stirling castle as they’re so close together.
Here are some photos of our visit there….