Art Holiday Travel and Vacation information for Stirlingshire

"STRILINGSHIRE, west-midland county of Scotland; consists of a main portion and two detached sections to the NE. included in Perthshire and Clackmannanshire; is bounded N. by Perthshire, NE. by Clackmannanshire and a detached portion of Perthshire, E. by the Firth of Forth and Linlithgowshire, S. by Linlithgowshire, Lanarkshire, and detached part of Dumbartonshire, and W. by Dumbartonshire; greatest length, NW. and SE., 46 miles; greatest breadth, NE. and SW., 22 miles; area, 286,338 ac., pop. 112,443. The E. part of the co. is flat, finely wooded, and well cultivated; and the valley of the Forth along the N. boundary includes some of the finest land in Scotland. The middle and S. are occupied with hills and valleys -the principal ridges being the Campsie Fells and Kilsyth Hills, and the Fintry Hills and Gargunnock Hills. On the W. a long projection extends northwards, including a mountainous district in which Ben Lomond rises to an alt. of 3192 ft., and parts of Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine. Besides the Forth, the chief streams are the Avon, Carron, Bannock, Allan, Endrick, and Blane. Coal and ironstone are extensively worked; limestone and sandstone are abundant. There are important manufactures of woollens, cotton, and iron; and there are several large chemical works and distilleries. The co. comprises 21 pars. with parts of 5 others, the parl. and police burgh of Stirling (part of the Stirling District of Burghs -1 member), the parl. and police burgh of Falkirk (part of the Falkirk District of Burghs -1 member), and the police burghs of Alva, Bridge of Allan, Denny and Dunipace, Grangemouth, Kilsyth, and Milngavie. It returns 1 member to Parliament. [Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]

Here is the birthplace of Scotland, the cradle of its Christianity and nationhood and the focal point of much of its colourful history. Here you can savour the atmosphere of Hebridean islands, the charm of rural villages and the natural frontier which separates the rugged grandeur of the West Highlands from the gentler beauty of the Lowlands. Here too, you can echo the footsteps of heroes like St Columba, Sir William Wallace, King Robert the Bruce, Mary, Queen of Scots ... and the celebrated, notorious Rob Roy.

From the Antonine Wall - Northernmost frontier of Rome's great Empire - to the first great ironworks of the industrial revolution, the Falkirk area knows all about being at the leading edge of historical progress.

Little Clackmannanshire - 'the Wee County' - also played its part, with a centuries old tradition of producing fine quality woollens, which remains alive and well today, beneath the delightful Ochil glens which so invite exploration. Talking of exploration, the fertile farmlands of Strathallan and the gentle folds of the Campsie Fells are rich in charm and surprise, from tumbling waterfalls and floral villages to ancient castles and Dunblane's fine cathedral.

The Royal Burgh of Stirling knows a little about history too. This is Scotland's heritage capital, where the Wars of Independence were fought and won; where, for three centuries, monarchs ruled in regal splendour and where merchants and craftsmen plied their trade below the castle rock.

Nowadays you can literally touch and feel the sense of history and nationhood which is Stirling's trademark, as you meander through the Old Town, enter the spectacular cliff-top castle or sample the town's unique 'living history' events programme.

The main towns - Alloa, Falkirk and Stirling - all offer fine, modern shopping and leisure facilities, to complement that unique insight into Scotland's past.

Breadalbane - one of Scotland's ancient founding earldoms - has its heart here, by Tyndrum, Crianlarich and Killin. This is a land of deer and eagles, walkers and climbers, yet there is endless scope for peaceful relaxation, by the lochshores, rocky river pools or tumbling waterfalls, most spectacularly at the famous Falls of Dochart.

The area is also rich in magical myths and folklore - and in natural heritage too, with Ben Lawers in particular fostering rare Alpine flora. Descend southwards through Glen Ogle - Scotland's 'Kyber Pass' - to reach lovely Loch Earn, the unsurpassed scenery of Balquhidder Glen and the picturesque village of 'Bonnie Strathyre', overlooked by its fairy hill.

The Trossachs peaks are lower but equally craggy. The hillsides of this walkers' paradise, cloaked in heather and forest, are everywhere interspersed by blue lochs, seemingly placed with divine purpose to reflect the majesty of the surrounding landscape.

These are 'the Highlands in Miniature' - yet the dividing Highland Line is on the doorstep, the outline of the Trossachs hills rising above the Lowland plain like nature's highrise skyline. Tucked beneath the hills, the main gateways of Callander and Aberfoyle are vibrant with activity and interest and a proud tradition of hospitality, longer established here than anywhere else in Scotland.

Romantically named for the wife of its founder, Helensburgh's wide streets and stylish architecture enjoy a splendid setting, overlooking the gentle Gare Loch and widening estuary of the great River Clyde.

Beyond lies 'the Green Isle' - actually the Rosneath Peninsula - a quiet corner ringed by pleasant villages - which belies its proximity to more populous areas. Northwards, beyond Garelochhead, the landscape dramatically changes character, as hills crowd ever more steeply above the narrows of Loch Long. Arrochar - the first village in the West Highlands - is fittingly dominated by the craggy peaks of the Arrochar Alps.

Inland, freshwater Loch Lomond - the largest 'lake' in Britain - shares this contrast between Highland and Lowland. The North, narrow, steep-sided and very deep; the southern reaches broad, shallow and dotted with delightful, wooded islands. Part of the charm also lies in the many delightful bays and villages - Balmaha, Drymen, Luss, Tarbet and Ardlui - around its shores.

Loch Lomond's main gateway is Balloch - its fine Country Park sprawling down to the lochshore. From here, the busy Vale of Leven sweeps south by Alexandria to Dumbarton and Clydebank, major towns offering good shopping and leisure.

Dominating the Clyde, Dumbarton Castle makes a commanding viewpoint in every sense of the word.