Of the three places we visited on our four-day Scottish pub crawl, Stirling was easily my favourite (St. Andrews was closed, cold and blustery; Glasgow wet and booze-soddled). It's like a ship-in-the-bottle Edinburgh, a dark, imposing castle stuck to the top of an old town built of grey stone walls, sloping lampposts and cobbled streets, all made wonderfully scenic by the falling snow.
The Youth Hostel (pictured above and on the right) is one of the best I've ever stayed in, a huge, rambling building right next to the Old Town Jail with arched windows looking back across the town. It's only a few minutes' uphill slip and slide to the castle, and a short stagger back from some great little pubs like The Settle Inn and Number 2 Baker Street, a roaring fire in one, cheap Belhaven Best in the other and - as demanded by Scottish Parliament Directive Number One - a flat screen TV endlessly playing Sky Sports News in both.
I'll be back in the summer.