Galloway was such a lovely area to explore; I enjoyed its many treasures immensely. Even though I managed to pack in quite a bit of what it has to offer, I now know that I barely scratched the surface and that I will once again return to enjoy its magnificent beauty once again in the future. But leave I must; it’s time to head north once again.
I followed picturesque country roads north in the morning hours before I intersected with the main highway, the “M9,” north and east eventually returning to Stirling by early afternoon.
Last year I spent a few days in this lovely town, but like Galloway, didn’t get to see all that I had hoped to. Hence, this is my return trip to a familiar and welcoming place. My lodgings were at the Stirling Youth Hostel just a few doors down from the castle. A very handy location!
The hostel is in an historic building in a beautiful setting and I was greeted by a familiar face, John the “Chef”! He even remembered me from last year! Amazing, considering how many people go through this place. He’s really nice and quite the character, loving to tease and interact with the guests. He made me feel right at home and let me know he was busy cooking a Scottish favorite – Steak Pie and another world-wide favorite – Macaroni & Cheese for dinner! Perfect! I put my order in pronto!
I had arrived a bit early to check-in however, so I went for a nice walk to stretch my legs after being in the car all morning. It was a nice afternoon and I had arrived with enough time to catch one or two of the sights I had missed last year just a couple of doors up from the hostel.
First stop was right next door, the old Prison. Although it was closed for tours for the season I still got to walk around it and take a few pictures.
Afterward I continued up the street passing some other interesting buildings along the way… I particularly got a kick out of the sign above the doorway on the one…
Next came one of the places I wanted to visit – The Church of the Holy Rude!
There’s the door and it’s still open today – let’s head inside – this is going to be really good!
The church of the Holy Rude (or “Rood”) is an old medieval word signifying the Cross of the Crucifixion.
The first church on this site was founded by King David I, King of Scots, in 1129. It was destroyed however by fire in 1406. Shortly afterwards a grant was made by the Lord Chamberlain of Scotland to have a new church built and the Nave, South Aisle and Tower were completed about 1414. This part of the church, with its rounded Scots pillars, its Gothic arches and its original oak timbered roof now appears, after many changes, much as it was when it was first built.
Because the church was not large enough for the congregation, the choir (or eastern) part was built between 1507 and 1546 by local tradesmen under the inspired direction of John Coutts, Master Mason.
In 1656, following a quarrel between the two ministers of the church at the time and their followers, the Town Council had a partition built where the crossing now is, thus forming two charges, the East Church and the West Church, each with its own minister.
Stirling Castle has long been a favored residence of the Scottish monarchs, and was developed as a Renaissance palace during the reigns of the later Stewart Kings. The Church of the Holy Rude, adjacent to the castle, became similarly associated with the monarchy, hosting royal baptisms and coronations. It is one of three churches still in use in Britain that have been the sites of coronations.
The Angel window was so high up it was difficult to get a decent picture of it even when one zooms in on it!
There were so many amazingly beautiful stained glass windows. I was in total awe in how ornate and detailed they are!
Below is some information about some of them.
Outside once again, I was floating on air after spending considerable time admiring the church’s majestic beauty and quiet tranquility. I felt so fortunate and grateful to have finally had the opportunity to marvel in its glory.
Across the drive from the front door of the church stands yet another intriguing building,
Cowane’s Hospital, a 17th-century almshouse in the Old Town of Stirling. It was established in 1637 with a bequest of 40,000 merks from the estate of the merchant John Cowane (1570–1633).
Subsequently converted for use as a Guild Hall the building is considered by Historic Scotland to be “a rare survival of 17th century burgh architecture and one of the finest buildings of its kind in Scotland.”
There’s the churchyard, (and the intersection where the Google car recorded me on a stroll last year) might as well continue on my walk and have yet another stroll through it up to the castle. If I recall correctly the castle gift shop has some wonderful items that would make great souvenir gifts for my sweeties back home!
There is such a delightful view looking west below to gaze out at on a nice calm and soothing afternoon like today.
Time to head back to the hostel now, have some of John’s delicious concoctions and settle in for the evening because tomorrow I have another big day planned – visit the William Wallace Monument, Cambuskenneth (another ancient Abbey), and see if I can find the Fords of Frew just west of Stirling out in the countryside somewhere. Another adventure awaiting… until then.