Imagine a place so silent that all you can hear are bubbling brooks – or burns, as we call them here – making their way through purple heather, green ferns and the same moss-covered trees that once sheltered warring clansmen. A place above the Scottish lowlands, from where you can see the silver Forth River slowly snaking its way across the centre of Scotland through riverside villages in the direction of Edinburgh.
And a place where you can have a wander, around a 15th century castle hidden in a forest and protected by steep gorges, with your dog and your human companion to refresh your soul. Welcome to the lowland fortress of the Campbell clan, which is tucked behind the hills of Dollar village in Stirling’s nearby Hillfoots.
You can pay the entry fee to get beyond the castle gate to explore what life might have been like for the wealthy Campbells. Or, you can enjoy its surrounds for free – as the locals do, with many a happy mutt bounding around in the lush grass. There are footpaths around the castle that take you to the top of the hills and beyond, including through farmland.
If you’re fit enough, consider walking from Castle Campbell to Glendevon and even Auchterarder. But, if you’re still walking off your festive feast, as I am, this is a perfect stroll. It’s also a great spot for anyone looking to experience a side of Scotland that most tourists don’t know about or have the time to see.
Tip: 20-minute drive from Stirling, with a regular bus service from Stirling through the Hillfoots villages, which include Dollar. Follow the signs to Castle Campbell.
Pictures by: Adrian Hadland, of Stirling
This blog post is sponsored by Stirling’s Castle Walk Bed & Breakfast, an historic 8-room guest house conveniently located in the Stirling Old Town and embedded in the medieval walls designed to protect Mary Queen of Scots. Book directly to claim a discount. Cite Stirling Life as the promo code.