Tuesday 20 December 2022

Scotland By Rail - Stirling Castle

An icy afternoon visiting Stirling Castle.

Leaving coastal Burntisland where our snow of several days ago had melted within hours of falling, I forgot to think that more elevated, non-coastal Stirling might still have some. As got off the train onto crunching platforms our five year old was delighted - as was I! We love snow and ice in our family. Winter is meant to be cold. It makes the world seem so fresh.

Leo du Feu
Community Rail Champion

We skated our way up the steep and picturesque old streets to the castle, me enjoying being back in this place we explored often as children. I pushed and pulled the baby and buggy and thought what a good toboggan the buggy might make on the way down. Oren made the most of every treacherous patch of iced over snow we came to.

The lovely little park sandwiched between Spittal Street, Baker Street and Bank Street (can you have a sandwich with three slices??) half way up the hill was looking especially beautiful, a great arena to play in.


Reaching the top the Ochil Hills looked stunning with their snow tops, Wallace Monument dark in front of them. Oren found lots of snow mountains to climb in the car park while I looked down freezingly at that rather wonderful Old Town Cemetery and wondered how it can be that children don't feel the cold.

I made this pastel piece in my studio a few days later.

Inside the castle we explored and played. As dusk fell the Great Hall looked stunning from the outside and stunning from the inside, Christmas tree in place and stage all set up for a performance of A Christmas Carol with a very nice wintery snowy scene.

In the Royal chambers a French courtier - dressed for the part and holding her needlework - pointed out some of the eleven unicorns in and around the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries. The tapestries took years to weave and cost £2 million. I remember watching them gradually taking shape on visits to the castle when I was much younger. 

The costumed courtier brought alive for us what it would have been like to visit this room for an audience with the Queen. We'd know we were really important if the Queen invited us next door, past her guards, for a private hearing in her bedchamber, at the desk beside the four poster bed - where she probably didn't actually sleep.

In the vaults we played with musical instruments, interactive screens, a court jester. Learned about where pigments and dyes came from in the 1500s...

Views from the castle down to the Queen's Knot and King's Knot

Stirling Castle is a great day out. Entrance is free to Historic Scotland members. Booking is recommended but not always necessary.

Trains to Stirling are three an hour from Edinburgh, journey time 40-50 minutes. Even more frequent from Glasgow Queen Street and journey time of only around half an hour.

Check before your journey at - www.scotrail.co.uk

Thank you for reading my Scotland By Rail blog.

Spread the word and let me know about your own favourite railway days out.

Leo du Feu
ScotRail Community Rail Champion
December 2022

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. I visited Stirling Castle 15-16 years ago, taking the train from Edinburgh while on a business trip from Montreal. I remember enjoying the train ride and the visit to Stirling and the castle itself. Your photos and art work have brought back great memories.