The last time we visited Stirling Castle (Historic Scotland) was a sunny, autumn day in 2011 and the pictures in the blogpost I wrote then reflected that. After arriving in Stirling for a short break between Christmas and New Year, we nipped up for a quick visit in the late afternoon and found the castle looking equally stunning, but with a totally different atmosphere as dusk changed to darkness. We visited:
The Great Hall
The Chapel Royal
The Great Kitchens
By the time we left, when the castle closed at 5pm, it was completely dark. This is the other side of the Great Hall taken from the Grand Battery.
Finally, on our way back down the hill we spotted these lovely Christmas lights designed by children.
Stirling is less than an hour away from where we live, so it’s wonderful to be able to see it at different times of year. Normally, we’d be back on the motorway to Glasgow by 5pm, so it was an added bonus to see it at this beautiful time of day.
Robert the Bruce stands guard over Stirling Castle:
We’ve visited Stirling Castle many times in the past, but not since the newly refurbished Royal Palace opened this summer. The beauty of being a Historic Scotland member is that you can go in free and just visit the parts you want, rather than feeling you have to go over the whole thing every time to get your £13 worth, so a few Sundays ago we set off to see the Palace.
The highlight is the ceiling with the brightly painted Stirling Heads, shown below. These are replicas, but you can see the remaining originals in the Stirling Heads Gallery:
Other highlights of the castle are the ochre-harled Great Hall which can be seen for miles around:
And the gargoyles:
An unexpected bonus was that you can now have a free tour of Argyll’s Lodging, the 17th century townhouse just down from the Castle, which we had also not visited before:
Finally, where to eat? The Castle has a nice café, but we usually opt for the Portcullis Hotel, just down the hill, which was built in 1787 as a boys’ school. Their lunches are substantial and good value. My stuffed peppers with salad also included a disc of breaded mozzarella and chips, neither of which had been mentioned on the menu.
Stirling is recommended as a lovely day out.