Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire are counties in the Central Belt of Scotland. They're lowland, with a mix of farmland and urban industry, but with hills rising steeply nearby. The big attraction is Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
Towns and villages
- 1 Stirling, the only city, is a pocket-sized Edinburgh, with a historic town centre and the castle perched on a crag.
- Bridge of Allan, basically a northern suburb of the city, hosts Stirling University. A short walk leads to the dramatic lookout of the Wallace Monument.
The upper Firth of Forth is tidal, with sea-going vessels, and oil and other industries along its banks.
- 2 Polmont is a small commuter town for Edinburgh. Nearby industrial Grangemouth is an oil town, a dystopian landscape of metal towers and flares.
- 3 Falkirk's Wheel is an ingenious modern boat lift connecting the Forth & Clyde canal from Glasgow with the Union canal from Edinburgh.
- 4 Alloa, the administrative centre of Clackmannanshire, is at the navigable limit of the Forth.
- 5 Dollar at the foot of the hills has a scenic glen.
North of Stirling:
- 6 Dunblane has a fine cathedral, a museum, and the fortress-like Hydro hotel.
- 7 Doune has an imposing much-filmed castle.
- 8 Callander is a small market town, a good base for exploring the Trossachs.
- 9 Crianlarich on the northern edge of the county is the gateway to Oban, Glencoe and Ben Nevis.
West: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is the prime reason to visit this area. The Trossachs are a scenic glen (accessed from either Callander or Aberfoyle), above which is Loch Katrine, the reservoir supplying Glasgow. The loch is set among beautiful hills; a lane (no vehicles, bikes welcome) winds along its east bank, and a little ferry putters across it. Loch Lomond is a long fjord scooped out by glaciers but later cut off from the sea, so it became fresh-water. The road to the east bank is via 10 Drymen and 11 Balmaha to end at Rowardennan, start of the climb up Ben Lomond. There's no through road on this bank, nevertheless it's the best approach as the west bank is very busy with traffic along the A82 and coach trippers asking if this is the loch that has the Loch Ness monster.
The nearest airport is Edinburgh. Stirling and towns along the Firth of Forth are well-connected by road and rail to Edinburgh, Glasgow, England, Inverness and Aberdeen. Trains run from Glasgow Queen Street west of Loch Lomond to Crianlarich, where they branch for Oban (for ferries to the Hebrides) or Fort William (for Ben Nevis).
You need your own wheels to tour Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
- Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland. The eastern side of the loch is relatively quiet, as there is only a road up part of the lochside, through Balmaha.
- Climb Ben Lomond, the most southerly of the Munroes, 974 m / 3196 ft high. The well-marked path starts at Rowardennan on the shores of Loch Lomond.
- The West Highland Way is a long distance walking route from Milngavie north of Glasgow to Fort William. It passes through Drymen and Balmaha then hugs the shores of Loch Lomond.
- Ride the ferry across Loch Katrine. At the far end Stronachlachar, either ride back, or bike back along the east shore, or cycle up past Loch Arklet to reach Loch Lomond at Inversnaid.
The area has long been a centre of brewing, in particular in Alloa. Williams Brothers in Alloa brew a range of ales, several of which have unusual ingredients. The oldest of these is Fraoch which is brewed using bog myrtle and heather flowers instead of hops.
There are also a few distilleries in the area, including Glengoyne near Drymen.