on a shoestring
edited by

Janet Power
10/04/2009 3:59:12 PM

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on a shoestring
edited by

Janet Power

p i g gy b a n k p r es s

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Copyright © 2009 Piggybank Press Editor and Writer: Janet Power Book and cover design by Janet Power. Photography by Janet Power except page 18 (© eriwst). First published in Scotland in April 2009 by Piggybank Press 8E Wallace Street, Stirling FK8 1NP ISBN 978-1-84354-637-5 Every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this book is correct and up to date at the time of going to print. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. Printed and bound in Scotland on paper sourced from sustainable forests. For more information and special offers please visit our website: Errors? Omissions? We’d love to hear from you. Please email us at

Introduction Getting Around History Walks Shopping Rainy Days Art The Old Town Spotlight: Stirling Castle Spotlight: The Wallace Monument The University and Bridge of Allan E at i n g a n d d r i n k i n g Cafés Restaurants nightlifE Bars Nightclubs Where to stay Maps Index 5 6 7 13 24 30 34 38 46 50 54 62 66 73 78 81 84 89

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Stuff costs money.


A problematic fact, now more than ever. We need to eat stuff, do stuff, travel to stuff, read stuff, see stuff and have stuff, and all this stuff doesn’t come for free! But some of it does. And some of it might be a little bit cheaper if someone had the time to really explore and find out where the best deals are and how to get them, and how to see some of this beautiful city while they're at it. And that's where we come in. You might be new to the city. You might be a student. You might have lived here all your life and you might have your daily path mapped out, without really thinking about where you’re going and what you’re doing. This book is designed to help you get more for less, whoever you are.

Welcome to Stirling!
Robert the Bruce at Stirling Castle
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ps. Look out for this symbol: It means ‘Piggybank Press favourite’ and it marks all the very best bits of Stirling.


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getting around
Students! Get yourself a free FirstStudent ID and for a mere £5, you can get unlimited travel for seven days between the City centre and Stirling University on the UniLink service, or any other bus running on the same route. Planning on going further afield? Have a look at Megabus. If you book far enough in advance, you can get a bus to Glasgow, Dundee or Perth from £1. More routes are available for onward travel from these destinations.

walks in stirling...



Prices for train tickets fluctuate wildly depending on when you travel, so book as early as you can, and try to avoid peak times (travel on weekends or after 9:15am on weekdays for Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak rates). Look for cheaper fares online at www. Remember, two singles is often cheaper than a return ticket. Eligible for a railcard? If you’re 16-25, you are. For £24 a year, you can save 33% on train fares throughout Britain.

can be as easy or as hard as you want them to be. Have an easy stroll to a pretty viewpoint or, if you fancy something a bit more challenging, hike up to the Wallace Monument and climb the 283 steps to the top. Whatever level you're at, get your walking shoes on, grab your camera and your water bottle (tap, of course) and let's go!


Get on your bike and cycle; good for you, good for the environment and free, if you have a bike. Check out Stewart Wilson cycles for new and secondhand bikes as well as equipment.

free! Old Stirling Bridge
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the quickie
The City of Stirling is relatively flat in the centre, but walk five minutes up any hill and you're sure to have a fantastic view. This one is a real lazy man's refuge: a two minute uphill walk, just ten minutes from the city centre. Getting there:
From the Port Street entrance to the Thistles Centre (see map 1), turn right, and follow the road through Port Street, Murray Place, Barnton Street, Cowane Street and Bridge Street. When you reach the roundabout, you’ll see the Gowan Hill on your left, with a signpost marked ‘Public Path: Back O’ Hill Road, Mote Hill’. Follow this sign, keep right where the path forks, and you’ll be there in no time. In springtime, the path to the top is paved with daffodils, and in summer, this is a great spot for a picnic: keep left where the road forks and you’ll find a soft, grassy area. You’ll be sharing with plenty of birds and bunnies up here, so keep an eye on your sandwich!

gowan hill
The View:
At the top of the hill, two old cannons point towards the River Forth – look down over Old Stirling Bridge on the far left. This bridge was built in the 16th century, but before it, there was a wooden bridge spanning this river, where Sir William Wallace defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. See that birdcage to your left? Well, it isn’t a birdcage, it’s the encasement for the beheading stone. This was said to be used in numerous executions during the 15th century, including that of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, in 1425. Look straight ahead and see the National Wallace Monument sitting atop Abbey Craig. If you think you can manage the 246 steps to the top, turn to page 50 for more details. Take a seat on one of the three benches and take a break, or turn around and see the King’s Gold walls of Stirling Castle, restored to their original colour. For a guided tour of the castle, see page 46.

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Here at Piggybank we love nothing better on a Saturday afternoon than treasure-hunting in Stirling's many charity shops. We've picked the best bits of each so you can get out your treasure map and start foraging!
s h e lt e r
53-55 Barnton Street. 01786 472447. Good for: the cheapest books in the city, from 50p for paperbacks, and a good selection too. Also new homeware, including mini hot water bottles, and last season’s M&S and Purple Ronnie greeting cards –from 10p!

charity shops
CanCer r esearCh U k
19 Murray Place. 01786 479132. Good for: stocking your student house with lots of interesting mismatched crockery and cookware.

Beautiful buttons and fabric from Pembertons

Books at the British Heart Foundation Shop

O x fa m b O O k s
79 Murray Place. 01786 462380. Good for: the obvious, but also fair trade products: gifts, cleaning products and snacks – yummy and ethically produced! There’s a vinyl section for music-lovers and colourful greeting cards start at 99p.

h e l p th e a g e d
9 King Street. 01786 450097. Good for: handmade purses and photo albums to confectionery and toiletries from the fabulous ‘well’ range, ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products at a reasonable price.

british red CrOss british h e a r t f O U n d at i O n
7 King Street. 01786 473462. Good for: a really big books section, divided into literary fiction and romantic fiction, priced around £2 - £2.50. 70 Murray Place. 01786 445725. Good for: a bit of everything: clothes, some books, bric a brac and cards. The Jack of All Trades of the charity shops.

A selection of goodies at A Wee Sweetie
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Brand new French Connection dress at Shelter


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other shops
p e m b e r tO n s st i r l i n g b O O k s
18 Maxwell Place. 01786 461816. Not just a bookshop – this little nook also has fresh coffee and internet access (£1 for 30 minutes) as well as rare books and prints, and a small selection of pottery. Unusually, you can buy bargain books by weight: £1.50 per kilo for your choice! Open weekdays 12:30pm to 5:00pm, check for weekend opening hours.

e U r a s i a f O O d s tO r e
101-103 Barnton Street. 01786 447447. Need a sack of onions? Or a whole lamb? Buying in bulk is always cheaper and this is the place to do it for a good range of nuts, beans, rice, sauces and frozen foods like samosas. You’ll find a broad range of unusual ethnic foods here as well as general groceries, newspapers and a Halal butcher. We weren’t joking about that lamb. Open 10am-7pm daily.

21-25 Friars Street. 01786 462993 Pemberton’s is a one stop shop for all things crafty – be inspired! For the budding home economists, yards of bright fabric, knitting yarn and threads line the walls. Or if you just want to give an old outfit a bit of life, grab a few unusual beads and buttons or a length of ribbon and get stitching. Don’t know how? Ask about classes in-store.

a We e sW e e t i e
29 Stirling Arcade, Kings Street 0845 4817308 At Piggybank Press we remember the time when you couldn’t go on holidays without bringing back a stick of rock for your friends. If you’re nostalgic, like us, or if your sweet tooth needs satisfying, A Wee Sweetie is the place to find traditional Scottish tablet and fudge for gifts, as well as all the old-style sweets in tall jars and lots of other yummy things that may be bad for your teeth but gentle on your bank balance.

Look out for loyalty cards!
Loyalty cards equate to free money: they’ll either give you points to spend instore or with partner companies, or, in some places, you can use them as cash against a purchase at the till. The Boots Advantage Card is famously “the most generous loyalty card in the UK” and you’ll see the points build up quickly. Pick up a Tesco Clubcard and build up points on shopping and petrol, or try the Nectar card, at Sainsburys and a host of other shops and online retailers. Students! The Student Recommended card gets you cheap drinks, 2 for 1 meals and free entry into nightclubs nationwide. Sign up at the Med (see p. 74) and have lunch and a pint for less than a fiver!

More of the same crafty spirit and lots more wool, needles, buttons, patterns and all things knitting-related are to be found at m C a r e e b r Ot h e r s , 55-59 King Street 01786 465646

e U r O pa m U s i C
10 Friars Street 01786 448623 At Stirling’s only independent music shop, you’ll find new releases as well as cheap second hand vinyl and CDs - albums from £2. If it’s Scottish folk you’re after, you’re in the right place, but no matter what your musical taste, Ewen and his staff will look after you.

p i p p e n s t Oy s
31 Baker Street 01786 447687 This is one for the boys - indulge your inner child with vintage and modern action figures including GI Joe, Action Man, and Star Wars. Play with the dinkies, build a model war plane, or save your pennies for the collectible Star Trek figurines.


see for a full list of loyalty card schemes

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rainy days
Go bowling
Don’t you love the noise of the b O W l i n g a l l e y ? Balls whizzing down lanes, sending pins scatterways – if you’re good, that is. At a m f, the standard rate is £9.50 for two games including shoe hire, and you can make a night of it with the fully licensed bar, and pool tables at the back. Or come on a weekday between 12 and 3pm and join the Great AMF Coffee Morning: £4.95 for two games, a coffee and 2 Oreo cookies, and you can add an extra game for £1. 2 Forth Street, Riverside 0844 8263033

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See a movie
The V U e C i n e m a in Riverside has the biggest variety of new movies first, as well as pick ‘n’ mix, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the option to upgrade to comfy leather seating with extra leg room for just £1! Adult price is £6.30 evenings and weekends, concessions £4.70, and everyone can save by going weekdays before 5pm for cheaper tickets. Using an Orange mobile? Text ‘FILM’ to 241 to get 2 for 1 tickets every Wednesday. Vue, Forthside Way 08712 240 240

couple of hours. Rainy days won’t be the best time to explore the gorgeous Ailie’s Garden, but the museum has plenty of interesting artefacts to pore over, including the world’s oldest football, the last ever front page of the Stirling Observer to be set with hot metal type, a beautiful 18th century silk wedding dress and a dress up area for the little folk (although we at Piggybank managed to squeeze into some of the outfits too). Don’t miss the lovely Gallery Café, where all home baking is less than £2. Admission free. Dumbarton Road 01786 471917
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Visit a museum


Do something different

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Throw on an old shirt (just in case) and go painting for the day at t h e C e r a m i C e x p e r i e n C e ! Take your pick from unpainted mugs and The n O r m a n m C l a r e n f i l m h O U s e at MacRobert is great for jugs, tiles and plates, photo-frames or small animals, and The Ceramic arthouse and foreign films, and has lower prices than regular cinemas Experience will give you everything you need to create a work of art, too: adult price is £4.95 evenings, concessions £3.95, or get tickets for make a mess or personalise your crockery! Book a party here and BYOB smirr sprinkling splish splash water puddle-jumping pitter patter raindrops a little bit splash water puddle-jumping pitter patter raindrops for for 1 screenings on smirr sprinkling splish less before 6pm. Students, look outwelly2raincoat drizzle smirr sprinkle rainy splashy welly boots night out. Prices start from £5.99. for a cheap rainy splashy smirr sprinkling Wednesdays, making tickets lessraincoat splashy welly boots than £2! rainy splashy welly raincoat drizzle smirr sprinkle rainydrizzle smirr sprinkling splish splash water puddle-jumping pitter Road 01786 471755 158 Drip splish splash water puddle-jumping pitter patter raindrops rainy splashy welly University sprinkling 01786 466666 raincoat drizzle smirr of Stirlingsplish splash water puddle-jumping pitter welly boots raincoat drizzle smirr sprinkling patter raindrops rainy splashy




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t h e C h a n g i n g r O O m spans two rooms at the Tolbooth, and provides a space for contemporary visual artists both Scottish and from further afield. Admission is free. Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. Upstairs at the Tolbooth, Jail Wynd 01786 274005 t h e s t i r l i n g s m i t h a rt g a l l e ry a n d m U s eU m dedicates two of its galleries to artwork (the third is the museum)– some from local schools, and others from established local artists. Gallery two is a large, striking, red-walled room, which lends splendour to any exhibition. Often, paintings can be bought from current exhibitions, and publications are available from the gallery shop. Admission free. Dumbarton Road 01786 471917


The University of Stirling has a rich collection of art, and it’s not just behind glass in a gallery; it’s everywhere. Every hall is adorned with posters, photos, prints and paintings, many of them by renowned Scottish printmaker, Willie Rodger. The Pathfoot Building hosts exhibitions from international artists, as well as a permanent collection and several outdoor sculptures (we like this blue chap). Macrobert also has an exhibition space, often occupied by projects from local schools, and when you’re in there, look up! Mermaids, dolphins and fish hang from the ceiling, as well as a giant, metallic, pink squid, hovering near the cafe. Stroll around and take it all in - for free!

art at university of stirling

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macrobert welcome to the Old town
See the Angel window and the Mary Bell at
the church of


Janet Power

holy rude p32 the back walk

is the author and editor of Stirling on a Shoestring. She is a native of Ireland, but loves Scotland very much. She also loves tea, trying to pronounce the Gaelic words on Scottish road signs, and getting post. She writes at the Piggybank Press Shoestring blog, and if you have any comments, suggestions, or words of wisdom, you can contact her there.

meanders around the haunted Old Town Cemetary and the 16th c. walls. Look out for Rob Roy...
stirling castle and argyll’s lodge

p35 the tolbooth &
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Don't be deterred by the hillls: get to
darnley’s coffee house

sit atop the crag and tail and reign over the whole city - well worth the walk
...we promise you'll love them

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Stuff costs money.
But the premise of our philosophy at Piggybank Press is that not everything has to cost a fortune and that cheap stuff doesn’t have to mean poor quality. So, we’ve rounded up the best bargains, the most beautiful viewpoints, the retail treasure troves and all the savvy insiders’ tips for how to get more for less in the City of Stirling, whoever you are.
“This is a brilliant little book. I bought it for my girlfriend and ended up keeping it myself. My mates and I are using it to plan a stag night on a budget - there are some gems in here!” - Christopher, postgraduate student, Stirling. “Piggybank guides are reliable and beautifully designed as well as making you feel as though you have a friend showing you around the city.” - The Guardian Uk £8.99

p i g gy b a n k p r es s

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