The Wallace Begins Trail

Follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s Braveheart!

William Wallace is famous the world over, and many tourists flock to Scotland to follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s Braveheart.

Wallace led Scotland in its wars of independence in the 13th Century but did you know that Paisley and Renfrewshire play an integral role in the life of one of Scotland’s most venerated heroes?

Wallace was born in the 1270s in Elderslie, Renfrewshire, and although very little is known about his early years, it is believed he was educated by the monks of Paisley Abbey.

As the second son of a minor noble, Wallace may have been expected to become a priest. Of course, his life took a very different direction…

Renfrewshire is the perfect start and end point for your Wallace Begins trail.

The Wallace Begins trail will take you through the national hero’s journey from his birthplace in Elderslie, to Paisley Abbey, the National Wallace Monument and then back to Dumbarton Castle where he was held before he was hung, drawn and quartered in London.

Wallace Begins one-day trail

Arrive in Renfrewshire the night before for a two-night stay. We have a variety of accommodation options to appeal to every type of traveller.

  • 9am – Wallace Birthplace Monument, Elderslie
    Start your trail at the beginning of William Wallace’s journey, his birthplace.
  • 10am to 11.30am – Paisley Abbey
    Paisley’s medieval Abbey was a centre of learning and it is believed Sir William Wallace, was educated by the monks at Paisley Abbey. It also has a cafe and shop.
  • 11.30pm to 12.30pm – Lunch in Paisley
    Stay for lunch in one of the town’s many cafes or restaurants
  • 12.30pm to 1.30pm – Travel from Paisley to Stirling
  • 1.30pm to 3pm – The National Wallace Monument (seasonal opening hours)
    One of Stirling’s most distinctive landmarks, it overlooks the scene of Wallace’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
  • 3pm to 4pm – Travel to Dumbarton
  • 4pm – Dumbarton Castle (seasonal opening hours)
    Follow the legend by heading to Dumbarton Castle on the River Clyde, where Wallace was held before being sent to London for his execution.

Now, head back to your hotel and enjoy a relaxing meal in one of the many restaurants in Renfrewshire – you’ve earned it!

Wallace Birthplace Monument
A magnificent structure celebrating the “Knight of Elderslie and Guardian of Scotland”.

On the traditional site of his home in Elderslie, the monument comprises a series of sculpted plaques around a column reminiscent of a market cross. The plaques illustrate the key moments in Wallace’s life.

Paisley Abbey
Truly a sight to behold, Paisley Abbey boasts awe-inspiring architecture and an incredible history.

The Abbey was founded in 1163 when Walter Fitzalan, the High Steward of Scotland, signed a charter at Fotheringay for the founding of a Cluniac Monastery on land he owned in Renfrewshire.

A young William Wallace is reputed to have been educated by the monks of Paisley Abbey in the late 13th-Century.

National Wallace Monument
This spectacular visitor attraction allows you to follow the story of Sir William Wallace.

Make your way through three exhibition galleries within the Monument; The Hall of Arms, The Hall of Heroes and the Royal Chamber.

The Crown at the top of the building is accessed via a spiral staircase, with a total of 246 steps. Once you reach the top,  enjoy 360-degree panoramic views across Scotland’s historical heartland.

Dumbarton Castle
Historians believe William Wallace was imprisoned at Dumbarton Castle after his capture by Sir John Menteith. He was then led on a 17-day journey though England -in chains – for his execution.

Dumbarton Castle is set high upon a volcanic rock in the Firth of Clyde. The Wallace Tower was built in the early 15th century and was originally four storeys high – it may have been used as a royal residence when Dumbarton Castle was owned directly by the crown.

Other places of interest

In May 1297, William Wallace led an uprising against the English and killed the occupying Sheriff of Lanark and many of his men. With this act, Wallace sprang into the national conscience and started the First War of Independence.

The Royal Burgh of Lanark Museum houses a number artefacts that belong to the period of William Wallace. The site of the castle, where Wallace killed the Sheriff, still survives – however, it is now a bowling green so some imagination is required.

The site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge
This was the first great victory for William Wallace and Andrew Moray in the battle of the First War of Scottish Independence.

On 11 September 1297, together with their army, they defeated the English forces of Jon de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey and Hugh de Cressingham.

Following the Battle of Stirling Bridge, Wallace was appointed Guardian of Scotland.