The approach to Doune Castle
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INFORMATION & HERITAGE CENTRE, 52 MAIN STREET
This is a small gem of a place. Most of its life has been spent as a bakers shop, initially under the name Elder, then under the name of MacAlpine. There is indeed some wonderful mosaic flooring at the entrance bearing the name 'Elder', and a trip here is worth it for that alone. It's often hard to imagine that when these mosaic floors were made each and every little piece of tessera was put in place individually. Inside, what was once the bakers shop and a tearoom through the back (used to be called the 'Comfortable Tearoom') is now given over to providing information on Doune and the surrounding area, with displays about the history of the village. But the thing I love about Doune's Information & Heritage Centre is that you can still see some of the original wooden fixtures from when it was a bakers. There are glorious old cupboards, and even the remnants of what I think was a little cash booth, a small wooden box where someone inside took all cash payments for the shop. You don't see such a thing these days, but it was a most sensible approach. First of all, all the money side of things was separate, so there was less chance of staff dipping their fingers in the till to line their pockets. And it made sense from a hygiene point of view because the assistants who handled the food were not in contact with the bacteria-coated coins of the realm. When, I often wonder, was it that we lost all this common sense that we once had?
A LITTLE WALK
There are some pleasant small walks in the area around the castle and river. If you're looking for something a bit more taxing - either a walk or cycle - then you could make for Callander. Almost two miles outside of Doune, on the A84(T) road to Callander, you will see a sign that reads, 'Road to Drumloist'. The map you should carry is the Ordnance Survey Landranger sheet 57, 'Stirling & The Trossachs', which has a scale of 1:50000 or one-and-a-quarter inches to a mile. You'll see the narrow road - it's marked yellow on the map, near Burn of Cambus and Buchany. See it? It's just a case of following the road as it dithers its way to and beyond Drumloist, and meets with a railway path into Callander near Dalvorich. As you may see, it's around 7 or 8 miles from Doune to Callander this way. You should be very wary of vehicles on any road you are on. Have fun.
DOUNE CASTLE
Doune's got a castle, and a damn fine one. It sits in a green grassy area on the outskirts of the village, and one may spend a small eternity approaching it from every angle, trying to determine which side is the weakest and how one might best approach its defences without suffering a bovine blow to the head. I don't know, but I just love castles. They are places of dreams and legends, places to completely lose yourself and become immersed in myths of knights so bold and dragons. And, of course, cattle. As I've already said, Doune Castle was used in the film, 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. It was used extensively during the film, but most notably during the scene when French defenders fired a cow at attacking knights. So, when you approach... MIND YER HEAD! MOOOOOO...
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'Elder' mosaic at the entrance to the old bakery in Doune
Mist in the trees above Callander
Entering the inner courtyard at Doune Castle
Information & Heritage Centre, 52 Main Street, Doune