For anyone interested in Scottish history, a visit to the National Wallace Monument is a must. Located in the town of Stirling, the memorial is dedicated to one of Scotland’s most famous heroes, William Wallace. Visitors to the monument will learn all about Wallace’s life, including the famous at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. If you are a history buff like me, here are a 5 Simple Tips for Visiting the National Wallace Monument to help you make the most of your visit!
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The National Wallace Monument is located in Stirling, Scotland, about an hour drive northeast of Edinburgh. Built in the mid-19th Century, on Abbey Craig, a hill on the outskirts of Stirling, the monument an homage to William Wallace. Wallace was a Scottish knight who led a resistance against the English occupation of Scotland in the late 13th century. Hollywood captured Wallace’s story in the 1995 film Braveheart.
The monument is open year-round. For the most up-to-date information, including hours, admission prices, and special events, visit the website. Also, there is a coffee house and gift shops at the monument. For more information about the coffee house, including menus and hours, visit the Legends at the Monument website.
Where is Buddy?
I visited the National Wallace Monument with Sal on our road trip to the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands. It was the first, of two stops on this very scenic drive. The other stop was at a scenic point along the highway.
Unfortunately, Buddy did not visit the National Wallace Monument during his choir’s trip to Scotland. Instead, they did a boat tour at Cairngorms National Park. So, this post will not share a teenager’s perspective about the monument. But I can say that I think he would have liked some of the exhibits, like the hands-on design your own coat of arms display. However, I think he would have been less enthusiastic about William Wallace given that he did not grow up with the movie.
5 Simple Tips for Visiting the National Wallace Monument
1. You can walk up the hill, or not
When you arrive at the parking lot of the National Wallace Monument, there are two ways that you can get up to the monument on the top of Abbey Craig. The first is to take a small bus from the parking lot to the top of the hill. The second is to walk up the hill.
Given that we were going to be sitting in a car for the next 5 hours on a road trip to the Isle of Skye, we opted to walk. We took the yellow hiking path, The Wallace Way, which was quite a climb! Lined by cute wood carvings, the path was cute! I enjoyed stopping at the wood carvings to catch my breath and take some pictures.
In addition to The Wallace Way, there are two other walking paths that take you to the top of Abbey Craig, The Stirling Trail (color coded red) and The Abbey Trail (color coded blue). These paths went around Abbey Craig, stopping at several viewpoints. We chose The Wallace Way because we were pressed for time and the other paths took longer. If we had more time, we would have opted for The Abbey Trail so we could experience both the Stirling and the Ochils Viewpoints.
2. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs
Once you get up Abbey Craig, you may think your climb is over. It is not! To access the National Wallace Monument’s three exhibition galleries, visitors need to ascend a 246-step spiral staircase. And it is a lot of steps!
The trek up is divided into different platforms where the galleries are located. If you feel winded, you can stop at each level and explore the galleries. The staircase is quite narrow. So, if you are claustrophobic or if climbing stairs is not your thing, this site may not be for you.
While we were already a bit winded from the trek up Abbey Craig, we did not mind the stairs. In fact, I found the staircase a bit more spacious, and the steps more evenly spaced, than other stone staircases than we have climbed in Europe. It was also fun to emerge from the staircase into the galleries on the way up.
3. Be prepared to take photos
The top of the National Wallace Monument is The Crown. This is the top level of the building that features a platform with stunning architecture. Even more stunning are the views 360-degree panoramic views of the land of the Forth Valley below. There are signs throughout The Crown explaining where some of Scotland’s famous battles took place, such as the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
My favorite part of the National Wallace Monument was The Crown. Equally stunned by the architecture and the landscape, I could have stayed there for hours taking in the views. The view from the top is absolutely beautiful.
4. How much time do you need to visit
Visitors to the National Wallace Monument could spend at least a half day exploring the site. A half a day trip would allow for time to explore the various trails and take in the exhibitions at leisure.
When we visited, we arrived at 10:15am and stayed until around noon. We started out our adventure slowly, taking in the video at the Hall of Arms and the Wallace Sword. As time wen on, and we realized that we needed to get back on the road. So, we moved faster through the Royal Chamber. I know that Sal felt rushed in that gallery. And I would have liked to spend more time on the Crown. A half day would have been perfect for us.
5. When to visit
In general, most travelers say that the best time to visit the monument is during the summer months when the weather is warm and pleasant. However, summer is the high season and historic sites like the National Wallace Monument fill up with visitors quickly. If you want to explore the area with less crowds, consider visiting during shoulder season.
Sal and I visited the National Wallace Monument during the summer months. We visited during high season since we traveled to see Buddy on tour. However, there were not a lot of visitors the day we visited the monument. And we visited on a weekend, a Saturday morning to be exact. So even if you do visit during high season, there is a chance that crowds will not be an issue
Bonus Tip: What to bring
With a café and two gift shops on site, we did not to bring anything specific to the memorial. In fact, we left our water bottles in the car. However, I wore my crossbody Travelon Messenger Bag (I am on my second one, I love this bag so much for travel) and this Columbia jacket to visit the monument. I also wore my comfortable Columbia Hiking Shoes for all of the walking we did.
The National Wallace Monument is a must-see for travelers, especially those interested in Scottish history or fans of the 1995 movie Braveheart who are interested in learning the history that inspired the movie. The monument offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the real William Wallace – one of Scotland’s most famous sons. It is an impressive sight, that should not be missed.
As we were pressed for time, we did not film a Movement Postcard at the National Wallace Monument, although it would have been fun to dance on and around the wood carvings no the Wallace Way. Maybe next time!
Are you planning a trip to Scotland? Have you visited the National Wallace Monument? If so, let us know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out these blog posts!
- 6 Interesting Things To Do If You Only Have 24 Hours in Edinburgh
- 4 Simple Tips for Visiting Edinburgh Castle
- 3 Easy Tips for Visiting the National Museum of Scotland
- 4 Tips for Visiting the Beautiful Calton Hill
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