the Stirling City Guide
Stirling Castle Walk
The Back Walk and Gowan Hill
Distance 2 miles/3.3 Kms/1.5 hours
Take this lovely scenic walk around the old town walls of Stirling, with views over to the Campsie Fells, Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi, Stuc a'Chroin and Ben Vorlich. The route is mainly on well surfaced paths and passes through woods, scrub and grasslands. Take care as there are some steps and steep sections of the path. At a good pace you can probably complete this circular walk in 1 to 1.5 hours but on a nice day it is worth taking time to look around you and appreciate the views.
Start your walk on Dumbarton Road at the Allanpark turning. Cross the road and follow the Town wall up to the Library. If you have time, it is worth visiting the library where you can pick up some excellent free leaflets about Community paths and walks around Stirling.
The Town Walls which are up to 5 feet thick in places and over 20 feet high, defended the town against attacks during the 16th and 17th centuries. At Corn Exchange Road, Walk directly across the road and join the Back Walk by the statue of Campbell Bannerman.
Make your way up the hill toward the Old High School, now Stirling Highland Hotel. You will see the Albert Halls down the slope through the trees on your left. Keep walking up hill and looking down over the Smith Museum. Eventually you will come to a gate and some steps that are an entrance the Valley Cemetery.
Progress along the shady woodland path that circles Stirling Castle Rock with the imposing walls of the castle towering high above you. You are walking on the volcanic plug that forms the Castle Rock. Below you is the King's Knot with the King's park beyond.
All of the paths provide a reasonable walking surface. The main paths are wide, but can be steep in places. The smaller woodland paths can be narrow and steep in places and depending on time of year and weather conditions, can be wet and muddy.
Keep following the path as it circles the castle which you will see towering above you. Eventually you will come to the Ballengeich Road where you can either follow the road back up to the castle esplanade and the old town but it is worth walking further to visit the beheading stone and the cannons on the Gowan Hill.
Read more about Stirling Castle Back Walk around the old town walls and the Castle.
The Gowan Hill
At Ballengeich Pass, cross the road onto the Gowan Hill and progress along the path to a junction. Take the left fork and then a left again, proceeding to the small hill top where you can visit the cannons and the beheading stone, one of the landmarks on Stirling's skyline. The beheading stone was used for many executions during the 15th Century including Murdoch, Duke of Albany in the 1425.
With a patchwork of woods, grassy areas and scrub, the Gowan Hill affords fantastic views over Stirling Bridge and the windings of the River Forth, the Wallace Monument and the Abbey Craig, with the ever changing colours of the Ochil Hills behind.
Return along the path to the junction and this time, take the right hand fork that leads uphill to the cemetery. Cross through the cemetery go down a flight of steps to a grassy track and follow this along to Ballengeich Road.
Cross the road and climb a narrow flight of steps to the castle esplanade. Make your way downhill along Castle Wynd, past Mars Wark, the Holy Rude Church, and down Spittal Street past the Tolbooth and Stirling Highland Hotel. At the junction, turn right into Corn Exchange Road, walk past the library and turn left to where your walk started.
Thanks to Stirling Council Countryside service for information about the Stirling Castle Back Walk and and the Gowan Hill.
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