A Winter Wander

January has been pretty wet and windy but that didn’t deter the Inner Forth Futures team earlier this month from taking a day to get out of the office and explore one of our newly created ‘Wanderings and Windings’ trails; Route 1 First Forth Bridges.

With the team of three all coming from different directions, we met at Stirling Station; conveniently the start point for the trail. Heading south-east from the station, we easily picked up the route and were delighted to spot our first waymarking roundels. Following the route through Braehead we were aiming for Millhall; the site of Robert the Bruce’s defeat of the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, also taking in the hidden heritage of the Millhall bing and former colliary. There are some great interpretation panels from the Bannockburn heritage trail here that really helped set the scene.

We then wound our way round the edge of Balquhidderock woodland through to Telford’s Bridge; built in the early 1800’s and quite striking with its unusual, almost circular, construction. Where again we learned about the Skeoch mills and the importance of the Bannock burn in tartan production during this period.

Image: Telford's Bridge, Bannockburn. Kate Kirkwood/ IFF

Wandering west, we headed for the Bannockburn memorial and visitor centre in search of a cup of tea and some lunch – and they did not disappoint! The team dug into hearty helpings of vegetable broth and some delicious cakes, to keep up our energy levels of course! After a brief stop to see some of the props from the ‘Outlaw King’ we were on our way again.

The route then took us along Tinker’s Loan, a picture-esque track which was evidently popular with other walkers, crossing over a great wee 18th century packhorse bridge. The track follows the Bannock Burn before heading north-west towards Gillies Hill, a community-owned ancient woodland and site of former hill forts. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stray too far from the route, but we could have easily spent some hours exploring the area and keeping an eye out for red squirrels.

Image: Entrance to woodland at Gillies Hill. Kate Kirkwood/ IFF

Leaving the woods at Cambusbarron, we began heading back towards the centre of Stirling taking in the views from the edge of Stirling golf course. Looking west with the River Forth meandering its way slowly across the landscape and iconic Stirling Castle sitting proudly to the north-east, you can really begin to understand why it remained a stronghold.

By this point, the rain we had been forecast all day made its appearance and we decided to head back to the station. We all agreed that it was a great way to spend the day; taking in an area, some of the team know well, from different perspectives and finding some absolute gems of hidden heritage.

If you’d like to know more about this route or any of the other Wanderings and Windings trails, you can find them here – along with GPX files and further information about the project.