The River Forth was a major obstacle for anyone wishing to travel north in Scotland. Stirling Castle guarded the crossing point of the river and the main route north, hence the castle’s strategic importance. Some medieval sources even call the Forth 'the Scottish sea', as it virtually split the kingdom in two.
At Stirling the river begins to widen, and meanders over the flat carse-land. Up until the 18th century ships would sail up the river from the sea, and Stirling harbour was a busy port.
The Forth still bends and winds its way through the landscape of the Stirling area, and a walk along its banks from Cambuskenneth Abbey to Stirling Bridge can still conjure up some of the history and the drama of this turbulent time. It is no longer tidal this far west however, so Stirling no longer serves as a port.