Standing proudly on top of Abbey Craig, the Wallace Monument is an iconic tower in the heart of Scotland overlooking the town of Stirling and the scene of William Wallace’s greatest victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Built in the 1860’s, the landmark 67m tall tower was designed by Glasgow architect J. T. Rochhead, and at the time was one of 20 Wallace Monuments in Scotland.
There is a car park at the bottom of the hill (Abbey Craig) and the visitor centre is situated here too. This is where you buy your tickets for the Wallace Monument before you head up the hill to the monument itself. There is also a gift shop and a lovely cafe here too.
After you purchase your tickets for the monument you can either grab the courtesy minibus or start your walk up the hill. It is a really nice walk up from the visitor centre to the top of Abbey Craig; it’s not a long walk, but it is pretty steep. With the kids (aged 5 and 2) it took us about 40 minutes to walk up, with many stops to play. Though as an adult you could get up in probably less than 15 minutes if you just walk!
There are quite a few wooden carvings along the path which tell you a bit about the history of Stirling. The kids really enjoyed discovering these as we wandered up the hill.
The whale and the train were definite favourites and the kids played at both of those for a while. There are also a few woodland walks signposted up the crag, but this time we stayed on the main path up to the monument and back down.
When you reach the base of the Wallace Monument at the top of Abbey Craig, you already feel like you’re pretty high. This is before you head inside and start climbing the 246 stairs to the top! The monument itself really is an impressive structure; it rises out of the woods ahead of you and towers above you as you get towards the end of the path and head out of the trees.
When you reach the monument you can head to the desk inside, show your ticket if you bought it down at the visitor centre and start your 76m ascent to the top. (You can also buy your tickets at this point if you aren’t sure about it at the visitor centre at the bottom.)
On your way to the top of the monument you will find 3 floors of exhibits, each of which breaks up the climb nicely. There are lots of buttons and screens to press, which kids will enjoy. The first floor shows a video about the Battle of Stirling Bridge, and you’ll also find William Wallace’s sword located in here. (It’s way bigger than I expected – no idea how a person would swing that thing about!)
The second hall you come to on your journey to the top is all about shields and coats of arms. In this room you design your own coat of arms on a screen. This design is projected onto a shield, and the last 10 or so coats of arms are projected onto the wall. Both my kids absolutely loved doing this. At one point all the coats of arms on the wall were those they’d designed.
The final hall is a room full of busts of and information about famous Scots throughout history. We have Robert the Bruce, Robert Burns, Adam Smith, James Watt and many others. There are also 12 newer busts of some of Scotland’s most remarkable women including Maggie Keswick Jencks, Mary Somerville and Christian MacLagan; engineers, artists, campaigners, doctors… It’s a great addition to the exhibitions at the monument.
Then you get to the top. The view from up there is just stunning. You can see for miles. It can get pretty windy up here and winds in Scotland are rarely warm, so take a jacket if you plan to enjoy the view for more than a minute. The kids had a good moan about it being cold, but after being all jacketed up they decided they liked it and played for for a bit while I enjoyed the view.
Back down at the bottom there’s another room off to one side; the Keeper’s Lodge, where you can grab a snack from one of the vending machines. You’ll also find a bunch of colouring sheets and kids activity booklets for different age groups in here. They are great little puzzle/colouring books for kids who enjoy that stuff. Mine really enjoyed filling them out.
- The way to the top of the Wallace Monument is a spiral staircase of 246 stairs. The entire way up. It is doable with young kids though. I climbed the tower with the wee one in a carrier when he was 9 months old. On our most recent visit both kids walked the whole way up no problem at all; you can split it up really easily with visits into each chamber on the way up. However only one of them walked back down. The wee one decided he wasn’t walking any further and had to be carried back down from the top. I had a dead arm by the time I reached the bottom, but it was still doable.
- It’s outdoors at the top and it can be really windy at the top, so make sure you’ve something a bit warm to wear.
- You can either buy tickets at the visitor centre at the bottom of the hill, or from the base of the monument when you get to the top.
- If you can’t walk up the hill you can take the free bus which takes you to the base of the monument at the top of the hill.
- The path up the hill is part private road, so you can take buggies up here. You can’t take buggies up the tower itself though.
Entry to the Wallace Monument costs £10.75 for adults and £6.75 for kids. Under 5’s go free. Family tickets and group discounts are also available.
The Wallace Monument is one of my favourite places in Scotland, so I am probably biased in writing a verdict. However the kids absolutely loved our visit. They had a great time climbing the monument and playing on each floor. The monument is surprisingly child friendly, and that view from the top is totally worth the climb.
The Wallace Monument is located at Abbey Craig, Hillfoots Rd, Stirling, FK9 5LF.