My bridesmaids ended up giving me an excellent hen party but when I found out it wouldn’t start until 5.30pm I was a little bummed. I had thought we’d spend the day doing something fun and then meet all the other women later on for dinner and drinks. So, in true Jemma-fashion, I made up my mind to do what I wanted.
I invited a few friends, husband-to-be and other boys included, on a cycle tour of Stirling. Most of us met in this very town and know it well anyway, but it’s also a very bicycle-friendly place. My friend Angela, from the world of ultra-running, works at Recyke-a-Bike, a wonderful resource near the city centre. I’ve bought more bikes than I care to admit from this place. Angela was a total doll and sorted us out with free bike hire from Nextbike for those that don’t currently have their own two-wheeler.
After popping into the Stirling Cycle Hub for advice and to pick up the bikes, we were off. We started by going through the riverside, over the bridge to Cambuskenneth Abbey. I was surprised that most of the people with us hadn’t been before, considering how small Stirling is. It just shows, these beautiful old buildings are around every corner in Sconny Botland. We oohed for a bit, then went off to find a pub.
Our next stop was the William Wallace at the foot of the monument it’s named after. We were the first customers of the day and enjoyed our half pints along with nose-fulls of bleach, as I guess the floors had just been done. Two of our party were recognised from their time living close by and popping in for the quiz… ten years ago. Way to make a strong impression.
Up the hill, through the back of the uni and onto campus, we took a nostalgic trip to the lochside. It was graduation day and it was quite exciting to see the graduates flapping about in their black gowns, posing for photos in the exact same place we’d all done the same. Here we flopped on the grass, drank some bucks fizz, ate some pre-prepared sandwiches, and nattered about fresher life. Of course, we also argued about who had the best halls. The only thing we could agree on was that Geddes was the worst.
We came out of the uni, along to the Westerton Arms in Bridge of Allan. Quick half pint here and then straight back into Stirling, over the famous Stirling Bridge. This important piece of architecture featured prominently in the Battle of Stirling Bridge but not, because Mel Gibson knows everything, in the dramatic representation of this event in Braveheart.
We were due to end the tour in a bicycle themed pub in the city centre but they seemed a little snotty so we ended up in No. 2 Baker Street. Best possible choice as many of our friends from the pub in days gone by were also there for a spot of afternoon drinking.
Our route was probably about eight miles and took in some of Stirling’s most spectacular sights. We could have extended it to go up to the castle and along to the Settle Inn, which we all would have loved to do, but I’d been warned I needed to go and get ready for my hen. For any bicycle related Stirling fun times, I would whole-heartedly recommend Recyke-a-Bike, the Cycle Hub and, of course, Nextbike. A superb way to start the wedding festivities.