On a recent short break in the Falkirk area I was impressed by the many places I visited that welcomed dogs. I didn't have my own furry adventure buddy with me on this particular trip but I did think it would be a destination that I could take her to in the future and not feel like I was having to compromise on too many things that I wanted to see and do.
As a dog owner myself, I know how frustrating and time-consuming it can be having to research dog friendly options when I'm visiting somewhere so I thought it would be helpful if I put together this guide to the places that I came across that welcome dogs in the Falkirk area.
I'm sure there will be other options out there that I have missed and if you are a dog friendly business or know of a business that is definitely dog friendly in the Falkirk area, do drop me an e-mail and I'll add it to the list.
For those with furbabies, I hope you find this blog post helpful.
DOG FRIENDLY WALKS IN AND AROUND FALKIRK
From town parks to country estates and canal side strolls, there is a huge variety of walks around Falkirk where furry members of the family can enjoy a good leg stretch. It might surprise you to discover that Falkirk has been crowned Britain's best walking neighbourhood.
There are 383 miles of signposted and well-maintained paths so it would take me a while to list all the walking options but here are a few of my top picks with nice walking trails.
DOG FRIENDLY PLACES TO EAT & DRINK IN AND AROUND FALKIRK
I don't know about you but I don't really class places that make you sit outside as dog friendly, I mean, realistically, how often is the weather nice enough to dine al fresco in Scotland?!
From personal experience and feedback from other dog owners, the following places all allow your dog to join you inside for a drink or a meal so you will be made to feel welcome come rain or shine. Some even keep treats and water bowls for four-legged visitors which we all know is a way of bribing your dog to bring their owners back again!
DOG FRIENDLY ATTRACTIONS IN AND AROUND FALKIRK
It is always good to be able to add a bit of sightseeing when you're travelling with your dog and Falkirk has a few great options, including its most famous sites!
This post is part of a paid partnership with Visit Falkirk who invited me to explore the region and write about my experience.
If, like me, you are a bit guilty of only gravitating towards The Kelpies or The Falkirk Wheel on trips to the Falkirk area, you are missing out on much of the fascinating history and outdoor activities that the region has to offer.
Recently I spent 2 days expanding my horizons and explorations to include the historic heart of the town and the surrounding green spaces. I made many surprising discoveries along the way and my perception of Falkirk has drastically changed. For example, did you know that Falkirk won Britain's best walking neighbourhood award, partly due to having 383 miles of well-maintained and signposted paths? The number of walking and cycling options definitely came as a surprise to me.
Less than an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh, it makes an ideal day trip from either city, although after reading this blog post I hope you might be inspired to spend a bit longer there. However, if you do only have one day, I've put together an itinerary that covers the best of Falkirk imho!
If you are planning a trip with your furry companion, you might want to check out my guide listing dog friendly things to do in Falkirk.
Here are my recommended things to do if you only have 1 day to explore Falkirk
STOP 1 - CALLENDAR HOUSE AND PARK
This is a superb starting point for any trip to the area as it reveals Falkirk's many historical layers and gives you a deeper appreciation of the places you will visit later in the day.
The exhibition at Callendar House was much bigger than I anticipated and I had only set an hour aside which is enough if you don't spend too long in each room, but if you have the time, you might want to add on another 30 minutes.
From medieval beginnings to Roman invasion and industrial expansion, every significant period of local history has a dedicated space - and the best thing? It is free to visit which is brilliant as it is a real gem. It feels more like a museum and there is lots and lots to see!
The exhibition is located inside Callendar House, a 14th century mansion house set in beautiful parkland. As you follow the displays, you also pass through the Georgian kitchen which might be familiar to Outlander fans as it was used as the Duke of Sandringham's House in Season 2.
Outlander Fan? Then you might also want to check out these local filming locations -
Visit the Film on Forth website for more film and TV locations in the area
When I absorbed as much history as I could handle, I grabbed a takeaway coffee from the shop and followed one of the paths around the park which gave me a nice morning boost before my next stop.
Discover more - In the park you will also find ornamental gardens, a small loch, a family mausoleum and sections of the Antonine Wall.
STOP 2 - FALKIRK TOWN CENTRE HERITAGE TRAIL
Alva Glen is situated next to the village of Alva which is only about a 20 minute drive from Stirling. This makes it a great option for those looking to combine a day of history with an outdoor hike. The trail is very much a walk of two halves which is one of the reasons why this is another one of my favourite walks in Scotland.
Alva is one of several settlements at the bottom of the Ochil Hills which are collectively known as The Hillfoot Villages. There is a 21km walk that passes through the villages known as The Hillfoots Diamond Jubilee Way. It is also possible to do this longer trail and include diversions to the various glens along the way including Alva Glen. The route is based on the old King's Highway.
The first section of the Alva Glen trail takes you through a shaded waterfall-filled wooded gorge, with a designated path that follows the Alva Burn upstream. In many ways this is also a heritage trail as you pass various structures dating back to the period when Alva was at the heart of the textile industry.
This area is now a haven for nature thanks to the hard work of the Alva Glen Heritage Trust which was set up in 2003. Their aim is to restore and regenerate the glen which was once an industrial centre. However, the dams, weirs and sluice gates that were built to ensure a year round water supply to the numerous mills still remain. You can also see the pipe that fed the water to the mills in order to drive the machines.
The second section of the walk opens up and involves some proper hill-walking. From here you can visit the viewpoint at Smuggler's Cave and access the surrounding Ochil Hills which feel a million miles away from the bustle of Stirling and even the shady gorge below.
Along the way you can read about the history of the glen on various interpretation boards. I love the stark contrast on this route despite it covering a fairly short distance. It definitely ticks my box of a walk where the reward outweighs the effort.
Alva Glen Walk Details
DISTANCE - Approx 2 miles return journey from the designated free car park, although there is the option to reduce the distance or continue further if you wish
TIME - The walk takes on average 1 1/2 hours depending on how often you stop to admire the scenery!
TERRAIN - A mixture of designated pathways, bridges and rough, rocky terrain. Walking shoes or boots are advised.
DIFFICULTY - Most of the walks I feature on my blog are easy to moderate as I want to include options that most people can manage. I would say that the first half part of this walk is suitable for most levels of fitness. However, the second part involves some steep and rough hill-walking in places so falls more in to the moderate category.
If you enjoy the outdoors, be sure to check out my other recommended Scottish walks.
DISCOVER THE TEXTILE HERITAGE OF ALVA
As you walk from the car park to the start of the Alva Glen walk, look up and you might spy a curious figure of a prehistoric man. Textile mills were not the only industry in the glen, rock and gravel were quarried from here and silver was also mined along with other minerals.
The figure commemorates a prehistoric human skeleton that was discovered in the quarry that you walk past. Uncovered by one of the workers, James Murdoch, examinations concluded that the person was placed there after death. A few days later James Murdoch was killed at the same spot after a stone slab fell on him leading to conspiracies that he had been cursed for disturbing the burial!
The trail continues past a series of waterfalls with obvious man-made features. This water supply was vital in powering the textile mills in Alva Glen. The first mill was opened in 1798 and by 1830 nine mills relied on the water. Controlling the flow of the Alva Burn was necessary to ensure that water was available all year.
Can it really be 20 years since the cry of 'Freedom' echoed in cinemas across the globe? Apparently so (which makes me feel quite old!) and two decades later Braveheart continues to inspire people to uncover the facts from the fiction of the legendary William Wallace and how he rose to become Scotland's National Hero.
Most people interested in this era of Scottish history make their way to Stirling and the area of his most famous victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Shadowing over the battlefield is the volcanic outcrop of Abbey Craig with the National Wallace Monument pointedly rising a further 220ft skywards. Erected in the 1860s to commemorate one of the most recognised figures from Scotland's past, it is currently also commemorating the film that helped create international awareness of his story.
I went along to one of their special free events that are running throughout 2015 with costumed actors and historians taking you back to one of the most dramatic periods in Scottish history as they tell tales from the battlefield and stories about the man himself.
I really enjoyed the 'Scotland's National Hero' talk and it provided an entertaining insight into the life of William Wallace before I embarked on the 246 monument steps to observe the landscape that was so significant not just during the time of Wallace but also for hundreds of years previous.
Constructed with money from a fundraising campaign and designed by the Scottish architect John Thomas Rochead, the monument is based on a combination of a traditional Scottish tower house castle with a stone crown spire on the top.
Today you can follow the spiral stone staircase and the story of the famous Scottish warrior at the various floors with exhibitions as you climb upwards, be sure to stop at the Hall of Heroes where you will see the famous Wallace sword on display, said to have been used by him during battle! It also includes busts of some of Scotland's other notable figures including Sir Walter Scott and King Robert the Bruce.
Just when you think that your staircase workout is never going to end, you step out into the crown and are rewarded with impressive 360 degree sweeping views spreading into the distance. Look out for Stirling Castle, perched on another volcanic outcrop before you, the Ochil hills stretching in the other direction and of course the looping river that played a vital role in the victory for the Scots at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
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