Monday, 30 July 2012

Castles Run

The Stirling Club had our inaugural run with the theme of Castles, on 29th July.

Six of us met in the Cafe at United Auctions for breakfast.

Our small convoy comprised one TF, two MGBs plus one TD built in 1953 and set off at 10.30am. We managed to visit eight castles in the next few hours.

Our first stop was 14th century Doune Castle, built on a bend in the River Teith. 

Doune Castle

Fifty Years of MGs at Doune

Today, Doune Castle is best known as the location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Mike even attempted the famous riding stunt as King Arthur. The French tourists were bemused.

‘You’ve got two empty halves of coconut shells and you’re bangin' 'em together’

Our route passed the striking statue of David Stirling, founder of the SAS Regiment.
This sits on a ridge on what was once part of his family estate, north of Stirling.

 “The Colonel”

Through picturesque Bridge of Allan to Stirling University and Airthrey Castle, 
now the centre for the School of Law. 

 Once used as a Maternity Hospital

Morven made a short video of the MGs driving by Airthrey Castle:

Leaving the University, we passed the Wallace Monument and headed along the Hillfoots to the unprepossessing town of Menstrie. 
Here, hidden among 1960s terraced housing, is the 16th century Menstrie Castle, birthplace of the founder of Nova Scotia. The Clackmannan Council politicians of the day seemed to have been oblivious to history.

  Historic home of the Alexanders

Further along the Hillfoots we came to Broomhall Castle. 
This was recently renovated as a hotel having been burned down by a German spy in 1941 to guide Luftwaffe bombers returning from the Blitz on Clydebank and Glasgow.

 A helpful staff-member photographed us all

The longest stretch of the run followed. We bypassed Stirling and then travelled by unclassified (and often very bumpy) roads to the Carron Valley Reservoir with splendid views of the hills and occasional rain-showers. After Fintry we drove up the secluded lane to Culcreuch Castle. This was built in the 13th century and is the home of the Clan Galbraith. It now does a fine lunch in the Dungeon Bar which we all enjoyed, oblivious to the pouring rain outside. 

 Culcreuch after the rain.

Over the Fintry hills to Kippen with its fine views, then down to the A811, and the long, straight road to Stirling. The leading MGB speeded up to sixty, but had to slow down again to accommodate the beautifully refurbished MGTD. We pulled into the lay-by at the foot of the ancient Castle Rock.

 Stirling Castle. Location for BBC’s Colditz series from the seventies.

Around the base of the Rock to cross the River Forth and on to Alloa where the oldest and largest keep in Scotland, Alloa Tower, is set between an ASDA and a large Tesco with motorised access only possible via another 1960s housing scheme, thanks to the Clackmannan Councillors of the day.
The Tower was the ancestral home of the Erskine family, the Earls of Mar.

Alloa Tower from Kilncraigs Rd.

We drove on towards the impressive 14th century Clackmannan Tower. This sits on top of the King’s Seat Hill and is only accessible by foot. We took the lane to nearby Hilton Farm to get a photograph with the Tower in the background. on the hill to the left.

 Back Bumpers and Clackmannan Tower.

We decided to call a halt here rather than trying for Castle Campbell outside Dollar as our ninth Castle.

Our August run will be to visit a series of historic or interesting bridges, while in September we hope that our itinerary might feature Mercat Crosses.