Bridge of Allan is a village in Stirlingshire in central Scotland. It's part of the city of Stirling, divided by the meandering River Forth; the village grew up where the main road north crossed the small river Allan Water. There was a brief spell of copper mining in the 18th century, but in the 19th C the village morphed into a spa resort, boosted by the railways and celebrity visitors, and the great monument to Wallace's victory was built. Today the main reason to come here is the University of Stirling, on a campus near the monument to the east of the village.
The quiet fields around this village saw the zenith of Scotland's military success against England. In 1297 William Wallace held much of the north and Dundee was his next target, when the English under the Earl of Surrey marched north against him. At Stirling, Surrey dithered over crossing the River Forth, while the Scots got ready to meet him. He was urged to ford the river further upstream, which he could have done quickly outflanking the Scots. Instead he began to advance over the bridge, a ricketty narrow wooden structure that could only fit two horsemen abreast - the manouevre was bound to take hours. The Scots bided their time till 2000 had crossed then set on and slew them. Surrey could still have held his position at Stirling but bolted south to Berwick, and Scotland was in the hands of Wallace.
Wallace was never crowned king, but ruled as "Guardian of Scotland" until his betrayal, capture and execution in 1305 by the English. A war of succession broke out in Scotland: King Edward II tried to place a puppet king on their throne, and occupied Stirling Castle, but in 1314 the Scots under Robert the Bruce beseiged the castle and defeated the English army a few miles south at Bannockburn. Scotland's independence was recognised in 1320 in the Declaration of Arbroath.
These two great victories are icons of Scottish lore and identity to this day - which gives the game away, that they were never so successful in battle again. There was a long period of peace until 1502 when, not leaving well enough alone, the two nations signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace. Hostilities soon resumed and in 1513 Scotland suffered a catastrophic defeat at Flodden in Northumberland, with King James IV killed. They regrouped and came again, but suffered another crushing defeat near Carlisle in 1542. Never again could Scotland by itself pose a military threat to England. But if, say, France were to join as an ally, as in the Jacobite rebellions, surely they'd fare better?
- For the main village, follow M9 to its terminus at Junction 11 then return south on A9. For the University, bypass Stirling to the east on A91 then turn onto Alloa Rd past the monument. From Stirling simply follow A9 north.
- Three trains per hour stop here on their way between Stirling and Dunblane; southbound they continue to Glasgow Queen Street or Edinburgh. Trains going further north (eg to Aberdeen or Inverness) don't stop here, change at Stirling or Dunblane. There's free parking but little else at 1 Bridge of Allan railway station.
- Lots of buses run between Stirling, Bridge of Allan and Dunblane. First Scotland East Bus 54 runs every 30 mins between Stirling, Bridge of Allan village and the University. Scottish Citylink 909 runs from Edinburgh every two hours via the airport, Bo'ness, Grangemouth, and Falkirk to Stirling, with two per day continuing to the University. Addison News Bus 1 runs twice a day to Callandar via Dunblane and Doune. Stagecoach Bus 15 runs hourly to Perth via Dunblane and Crieff. Long distance coaches almost never stop here, connect in Stirling.
The uni-link Bus UL runs every 30 mins between Stirling bus station and the University; it doesn't come into the village.
- 1 Wallace Monument, Abbey Craig (1 mile northeast of Stirling near Bridge of Allan), ☏ . Nov-Mar 10:00-16:00, Apr-Jun & Sept-Oct 09:30-17:00, Jul-Aug 09:30-18:00. Set on the hill north of Stirling, this monument honours William Wallace who led the Scottish to victory over the English. It was built 1861-69 - Garibaldi was among those who contributed to the funding. Inside are displays about the Battle of Stirling Bridge and about important Scottish people. You have a great view over Stirling and its surroundings from the top. Adult £10.50, child 5-15 years £6.50, conc £8.50.
- Stirling University is set in a landscaped park and estate, with Airthrey Castle and a lake with lots of wildlife. It's two miles east of Bridge of Allan railway station, or take the bus from Stirling.
- In 1745 the Jacobites occupied the town and charged a toll to cross the bridge: the Tollbar marks the spot.
- 2 Lecropt Kirk (off A9 east of village). Handsome church in Gothic revival style, built in 1827 so it's late Georgian. Note the stain glass windows. The church is on a slight rise with views over the "carse" - the riverside meadows - and Stirling and the Monument. Of the former village of Lecropt nothing remains.
- Cambuskenneth Abbey is this side of the river, downstream from the Monument. But it's easiest to access via the footbridge from Stirling.
- The Darn Walk is an old drovers' trail along the east bank of the Allan Water north to Dunblane, 3 miles. Start from Blairforkie Drive at the village bridge. Follow a rough track along the wooded riverbank to "Ben Gunn's Cave" - Robert Louis Stevenson often holidayed in this area as a youth and may have taken this cave as his model. Beyond, you cross a low ridge to come into Dunblane. The riverbank path continues upstream to Ashfield.
- The hills rising steeply above the village are the Ochils - they're not the Highlands, but a good overture. Dumyat Hill (429 m) is their outpost, reached by a trail (5 miles there and back) from Pendreich Forest car park on Sheriffmuir Rd. A branch path leads onto Castle Law, with the best views of the monument and Stirling Castle.
- Further east, explore Dollar Glen up to Castle Campbell - the autumn colours are sublime.
- Bridge of Allan Highland Games are held here in early August. The 2020 event is cancelled so the next is probably Sun 1 Aug 2021, tbc.
There's a Co-op food store and Tesco Express in the village.
- Cheap and cheerful eateries along the main street include Rana's (Punjabi Indian), Jam Jar British bistro, Bayne's Bakery, Lee's Chinese takeaway, Friend of Mine licensed cafe, and La Cucina Italian. The Grill by HW is just west of the river.
- 1 Allanwater Cafe, 15 Henderson St FK9 4HN, ☏ . Daily 08:00-20:30. Great fish and chips, vegan & gluten-free options.
- 2 Westerton Arms, 34 Henderson St FK9 4HR, ☏ . Daily 11:30-23:30. Pub with decent food. New owners in March 2019.
- 3 Vecchia Bologna, Mine Road FK9 4DT, ☏ . M 17:30-22:00, Tu-Sa 12:00-15:00 & 17:30-22:00, Su 12:00-15:00 & 17:00-20:00. Smart Italian restaurant.
- 1 The Meadowpark, 56 Kenilworth Rd FK9 4RY (southeast of town near University), ☏ . M-Th 11:00-23:00, F Sa 11:00-00:00, Su 10:00-23:00. Pub with restaurant, last serving for food is 2 hours before closing. They no longer operate as a hotel.
- 2 Allanwater Brewhouse, Queens Lane, Bridge of Allan FK9 4HP, ☏ . M-Th 12:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 12:00-22:00. Pub with its own microbrewery. Brews a wide range of ales including one with mangoes, another with nettles. Occasional music in the evening. Tours £15-25.
- 1 Kilronan House, 15 Kenilworth Road, FK9 4DU, ☏ . Elegant Victorian house built in 1853, in a leafy conservation area near Stirling University and the Wallace Monument. Spacious ensuite rooms, ample offstreet parking in the grounds. Free Wi-Fi internet access. Almost booked out thru July 2019. B&B double £80, min stay 2 nights.
- 2 Royal Hotel, 55 Henderson St FK9 4HG, ☏ . 3-star, under refurbishment so guest reviews depend on whether they get the new or the tatty old rooms. B&B double from £90.