the Stirling City Guide
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Hermitage Woods Walk
A Walk on Stirling University Airthrey estate
The Hermitage woods are a good spot for a short stroll or as part of a longer walk up to Sherrifmuir or Dumyat. A couple of miles from Stirling, this dense, mixed woodland is rich with plants, wild flowers and wildlife. The woods back on to the grounds of the University which is sited on the old Airthrey estate.
You will soon discover the many paths which go off in all directions through the woods and will find your own route to the Hermitage which is hidden in the trees, almost in line with Airthrey Castle.
Go past the main entrance to Stirling University and take the turning on the right, into Kenilworth Road. Take the next right turn into Sheriffmuir Road. Go on past the manse house and where the road starts to climb steeply, you will see the entrance to Back O' Dykes.
Climb up the timber stair which takes you over the drystone dyke and onto the footpath. There are a number of paths going into the woods which will lead you to the Hermitage.
The route we have chosen requires you to walk left, then follow the path to the right and proceed uphill on the path which runs parallel to Stirling University campus. The path climbs steeply and you will eventually come to a pointwhere you have the choice of going straight on or making a detour to the left. Either way will take you to the Hermitage but it is easier to find by taking the path straight ahead. Follow the path as it winds along the hillside. You will come across a tree which has fallen over the path in a tangle of roots and ivy. Look up at this point and you will see the Hermitage towering above you.
If you decide to take the left turn, this will take you to the top of the hill, above the Hermitage. Make your way up through the valley till you come to a drystone dyke. Turn right and make your along until the dyke changes direction.
At this point, make your way to the edge of the hill and you should be able to locate the Hermitage tucked in against the hillside. It's overgrown and well camouflaged so, be careful not to walk past. Be careful as there are steep cliffs. You will get some great views through the trees and over the Carse of Forth, the Abbey Craig and Stirling Castle.
When you have located the ruins, go on a little further and then follow the narrow path as it turns back along the face of the hill. Approach along the shaded, rocky ledge and go through the doorway. It's a strange place with a mystical feel, although, the effect can be ruined by the broken glass and empty cans which often litter the inside. You can return on the lower path which takes you back to the point where you cut off to the left.
The paths are popular with students and people walking their dogs. Be very careful with children as the path is narrow and close to the edge. A lot of trees have been felled and the hillside is in the process of being replanted so, there are a lot of logs and broken branches lying around.
A Go past the main entrance to Stirling University and take the turning on the right, into Kenilworth Road.
B Take the next right turn into Sheriffmuir Road.
C Go on past the manse house and where the road starts to climb steeply, you will see the entrance to Back O' Dykes.
D The Hermitage is hidden in the trees up on the hillside, almost in line with Airthrey Castle.
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