Archive for May, 2011

15 May 2011

Look North: The Green Way Forward

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Scotland has been in the news rather a lot recently – what with the growing possibility of outright independence, the shameful Neil Lennon saga and the final(?) demise of Taggart – although it’s interesting to speculate if the drastically-reduced Scottish influence on this Westminster government (compare Fox and Gove to Brown, Darling, Reid, Cook, Dewar, Smith et al of old)  is, perhaps, an interesting pointer to the divergent path now being taken, on many key issues, by the Holyrood administration.

Tuition fees, prescription and hospital parking charges immediately come to mind, but for those of us intent on preserving the environment and enjoying the great outdoors, the contrasting ideology in Scotland is just as clear. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 allowed virtually unrestricted access to the outdoors. To date, with a few exceptions, it has been a success and, along with the Scottish tradition of wild camping, provides far more positive opportunities for more people to enjoy the outdoors.

South of Hadrian’s Wall, we may have stopped the government from privatising Forestry  Commission (FC) land, but this was only round one of the fight for greater access, given that the FC owns only a fraction of our forests and woodlands and that proportion falls still further in lowland areas.  We have to increase the pressure to gain access to the 60%  (figures from Woods for People, the Woodland Trust’s dataset of accessible woodlands) of forests and woodlands currently barred to walkers, cyclists, horse riders, wheelchairs users and others.

In view of this, the formation of the new Forest Access User Group, composed of organisations ranging from the Ramblers to the Kennel Club and British Horse Society, is cheering news, particularly as the raison d’être of this rather diverse alliance is to campaign to put public access at the heart of the government’s policy on forests.

February’s climbdown on the forests was caused by outrage from an astonishingly eclectic range of organisations and individuals – many of whom were traditional Tory supporters.  It is vital that we sustain this pressure on the Independent Panel for Forestry, set up after the U turn, to show that access to our forests and countryside is an issue that unites vast numbers of people, from whatever walk of life, or political persuasion.

From a purely political angle, Cameron desperately needs to score positively on some kind of green issue if he is not to become more of an environmental joke. From hugging huskies and promising the “greenest-ever government” when in opposition, to classifying almost every piece of environmental legislation as “red tape”, within his first year of government, the metamorphosis has been as swift as it has been shocking: indeed, if it wasn’t so potentially tragic, it would be hilarious.

So far, the blue and yellow mix certainly hasn’t equalled  green and some of  Cameron’s Lib Dem allies have proved to be equally environmentally reprehensible.  Justifying its decision to include virtually every piece of environmental legislation on the bonfire of the bureaucracy, the Department for Business headed by the saintly Vince Cable, believes: “it takes a lot to grow a business.” Clearly it doesn’t take nearly as much to destroy the environment.

David Cameron is not a stupid politician. He knows environmental issues galvanise a wide range of individuals and groups, many of whom are Conservative-leaning and whom he cannot afford to alienate. Everyone who cares about green issues, whether access to the countryside, protection of wildlife, reduction of carbon emissions, sustainability or preservation of  public transport, needs to work together to keep the environment at the top of the agenda. By definition, this will be a broad church, with some not normally-compatible bedfellows. But the preservation of our planet and our responsible access to it are sufficiently important to rise above traditional political and social differences.

Cameron could set an example by, for once, looking beyond the Home Counties and, instead focusing on a green path up the A1 to Edinburgh. By overlooking his political differences with Alex Salmond, he could learn about how unrestricted access to the outdoors has proved to be so effective in Scotland.

If the news on carbon targets is correct, it’s a welcome first step and an impressive victory for the energy secretary, Chris Huhne. We now have to build on this and work together to preserve our environment and ensure as many people as possible can enjoy responsible access to it.

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08 May 2011

Around Glasgow

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A wealth of culture, some of the finest art and  architecture in Europe, a shopping mecca, vibrant nightlife: just some of Glasgow’s best known features.  But, alongside these attributes, its marvellous location for walking, cycling, sailing and numerous other outdoor activities is all too often overlooked.

A city infamous for poor health and housing and blighted by its planners in the mid 20th century, Glasgow, which means Dear Green Place, has, surprisingly, more green spaces per head of population than any other conurbation in Britain, with beautiful parks to be found all over the city. And, within an hour of its centre, you can be climbing a Munro, cycling along Loch Lomond,or sailing in some of the world’s most beautiful coastal waters. This fairly unique combination makes the city ideal to shop till you drop, enjoy many varied forms of culture, but equally easily escape to the great outdoors that are literally on your doorstep.

In addition, the city has an excellent public transport system; in terms of connecting areas and scope, second only to London.  And, given Glasgow’s location, its commuter lines actually reach some of the most scenic and iconic places; for example, Balloch, at the foot of Loch Lomond, is around 40 minutes out of the city on a twice-hourly service, whilst the legendary West Highland line, reaches Arrochar and the northern end of Loch Lomond at Ardlui in about an hour.

It is this mix of unique location, plus easy availability of public transport, that makes Glasgow such an ideal base for a boot and bike trip.

 

Get there and about: 

Virgin Trains www.virgintrains.co.uk travel to Glasgow from London, the Midlands and North West England on the west coast main line; journey times are about five hours from London and just under four from Birmingham.

Strathclyde Passenger Transport www.spt.co.uk is responsible for city and suburban trains, buses and subway.

Scottish Citylink coaches www.citylink.co.uk run out of the city along the A82 en route to Fort William, Portree and Oban.

Loch Lomond Cruises www.cruiselochlomondltd.com operate a ferry service from Tarbet across the loch to Rowardennan and Inversnaid, between April to October.

 Stay at:

Glasgow Guest House

Glasgow Guest House www.glasgow-guest-house.co.uk  enjoys a great location on bus routes, five minutes from Dumbreck rail station, within walking distance of the subway, virtually next door to Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover and 20 minutes walk from the Burrell.  It’s clean, welcoming, serves brilliant breakfasts, has a residents’ kitchen and ample and secure storage for boots, bikes and equipment: Glasgow with hospitality, humour and style.

 

Make sure you see:

Merchant City

Architecture; Look out for Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s buildings and designs www.crmsociety.com Alexander”Greek” Thomson’s buildings www.greekthomson.org.uk  There is a wonderful Victorian legacy throughout the city and the magnificently-renovated 18th century Merchant City www.merchantcity.com is also a must-see.

 
 
 Art;  Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Burrell Collection and Pollok House

Pollok House

Museums and Culture; Kelvingrove, Tenement House, Cathedral, People’s Palace, new Riverside Museum of Transport with the Tall Ship and any of the 13 major museums in the city www.seeglasgow.co.uk

Music; King Tut’s, O2 Academy, Royal Concert Halls, Theatre Royal, SECC

Film;  Glasgow Film Theatre and Grosvenor, numerous multi-screens

Theatres; King’s, Citizen’s, Tramway, Arches, Theatre Royal, Tron and many more

www.seeglasgow.co.uk

 

 Tuck in at:

Great ethnic restaurants in Merchant City and West End.

Bars and restaurants in Ashton Lane, near the university in the West End.

Good value food and drink at The Left Bank www.theleftbank.co.uk and The Two Figs www.thetwofigs.co.uk  in the West End.

Best coffee at Tapa in Denniston and Southside, www.tapabakehouse.com

Cute cafe and pastries at Cranberry’s in Merchant City.

Willow tearooms in Buchanan and Sauchiehall Streets for some Mackintosh-inspired refreshments www.willowtearooms.co.uk

 

Shop till you drop: 

Buchanan Street; John Lewis, House of  Fraser and just about everything else

Italian Centre

Italian Centre in Merchant City, Princes Square and Royal Exchange Square; more upmarket labels

Byres Road, Ashton Lane in West End; small boutiques and more bohemian options

Out of town retail centres; include Braehead and The Forge

 

 

 

 

 

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR DAY TRIPS OUT OF TOWN: Coast, Mountains, Lochs, Culture and History using boot, bike and boat and public transport. 

Coast:

Where? Ayrshire Coastal Path, Dunure to Ayr

How?  train from Glasgow Central to Ayr, www.firstscotrail.co.uk bus to Dunure, www.travelinescotland.co.uk walk back to Ayr

Why? fabulous coastal views of Arran and Argyle, cute little cafe and inn at Dunure, interesting, short diversion to Burns Cottage in Alloway

But; potentially dangerous tides in places, really do need guidebook and cannot rely on maps and signposting

Info; OS Explorer 326, www.ayrshirecoastalpath.org for details and guidebook

Directions; walk down to harbour from bus stop in Dunure, then follow route signs north. BEWARE of tides, particularly in Bracken Bay and do refer to guidebook as signposting is very obscure in places

Distance; 9 miles direct, about 11 with detour to Burns Cottage

Terrain; difficult in places, rocky outcrops, sandy beaches, field paths

Refreshments; Dunure Inn www.dunureinn.co.uk Dunure Harbour Coffeeshop www.harbourviewcoffeeshop.co.uk extensive selection of cafes and restaurants in Ayr

 

Hills:

i) Where? Beinn Dubh Horseshoe from Luss on western side of Loch Lomond 

How?  Citylink coaches from Buchanan Street bus station to stop on A82 next to start of route www.travelinescotland.co.uk

The Arrochar Alps

Why?  good workout for Munros, great views of Arrochar Alps, easy access, refreshments in pretty, conservation village of Luss

But; allow enough time to complete the horseshoe and plan carefully to synchronise with buses, particularly in summer when you need to book seats on specific services

Info; OS Explorers 364, 367, Harvey Superwalker 1:25,000  Glasgow Popular Hills www.harveymaps.c.uk  Glasgow, 40 Town and Country Walks, www.pocketmountains.com

Directions; walk from bus stop towards footbridge over A82, go past house on right, through metal gate into field, follow route from here

Distance; 7 miles

Terrain; hill paths, steep climb, boggy in places

Refreshments; Colquhoun’s, The Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel www.loch-lomond.co.uk Farm Milk Bar, Car Park, Luss, The Coach House Coffeeshop www.lochlomondtrading.com

 

ii) Where? Conic Hill at southern end of Loch Lomond 

How?  train from Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch, bus to Balmaha  www.travelinescotland.co.uk

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill

Why?  wonderful views only usually enjoyed from much higher aspects, ideal to fit in for morning/afternoon, or for a winter walk

But; shares some of access route with West Highland Way and can be busy, especially in holiday periods and in spring dog-walkers cannot access the high moor behind the hill

Info; OS Explorer 347, Harvey Superwalker 1:25,000  Glasgow Popular Hills www.harveymaps.co.uk  Glasgow, 40 Town and Country Walks, www.pocketmountains.com

Directions; path starts from Visitor Centre in Balmaha where bus terminates, follow the well-signposted route and good path to the top of the hill

Distance; 3 miles

Terrain; woodland and hill paths, steep in places

Refreshments; Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha www.oak-tree-inn.co.uk village shop next door also sells hot drinks and sandwiches, as well as provisions

 

iii) Where? Dumgoyne Hill, Blanefield, north of Milngavie

How? bus (no10) from Buchanan Bus Station to Blanefield (hourly during most of the day)

Dumgoyne

Why? more fantastic views to southern aspects of Loch Lomond, Arrochar Alps, Ben Lomond and more, from a steep, but short, climb, within easy reach of city centre

But; very boggy in places, have to jump across a couple of burns en route

Info; OS Explorer 348, Harvey Superwalker 1:25,000 Glasgow Popular Hills www.harveymaps.co.uk

Directions; start from war memorial in Blanefield, carry on up Campsie Dene Road to Cantywherry Cottage, then take path to the right up the hill

Distance; about 6 miles

Terrain; hill paths, boggy and muddy, steep in places

Refreshments; nice deli with lovely little coffeeshop www.pestleandmortar.com across from bus stop in Blanefield

 

iv) Where? Loch Humphrey and Duncolm, Kilpatrick Hills, west of the city

How? train to Kilpatrick from Glasgow Queen Street or Central 

Erskine Bridge from Loch Humphrey

Why? extensive views over the city from a surprisingly remote, heather-clad range of hills very easily accessible from the city

But? bleak and isolated on the hilltops, steepish climb to the Loch

Info; OS Explorer 347, Harvey Superwalker 1:25,000 Glasgow Popular Hills, www.harveymaps.co.uk Glasgow 40 town and Country Walks, www.pocketmountains.co.uk

Directions; from the railway station head along the road under the A82 road bridge to Kilpatrick Gasworks, then follow the track signposted Loch Humphrey. At the loch keep on the obvious path, passing Little and Middle Duncolm before climbing to the summit of Duncolm

Distance; about 8 miles

Terrain; tarmac stretch at start, then rough heather and bracken, boggy in places on hillside

Refreshments; none on direct route, pubs and shops in Kilpatrick

 

Munro:

Where? Ben Lomond

How? train from Glasgow Queen Street to Arrochar/Tarbet,  Cruise Loch Lomond www.cruiselochlomondltd.com from Tarbet Pier across loch to Rowardennan (April-October), leaving Tarbet at 10am, returning from Rowardennan at 16:45

Ben Lomond

Why? great way to climb Scotland’s most southerly Munro on day trip from city without having to drive

 But; absolutely vital that you have sufficient hill-walking experience/fitness to complete the climb and descent before return sailing

Info;  Harvey Superwalker 1:25,000  Glasgow Popular Hills www.harveymaps.co.uk OS Explorer 364, 347

Directions; follow clear route to the mountain from car park in Rowardennan

Distance; around 7 miles

Terrain; tough mountain climb, remote and exposed in places

Refreshments; Rowardennan Hotel www.rowardennanhotel.co.uk

 

Corbett:

Where? Ben Arthur (The Cobbler), overlooking Arrochar

Why? One of Scotland’s iconic mountains, yet within easy access of the city, stupendous views of Ben Lomond and other peaks in the Trossachs, lochs Lomond and Long
How? Train from Queen Street, or bus from Buchanan Bus Station www.citylink.co.uk to Arrochar
But: very steep last section to exposed summit where slabs can be very slippery; liable to be cold,  windy at higher levels irrespective of conditions at start; proper equipment, clothing and adequate fitness essential; limited train service and seats on return bus journey often need to be booked in peak months, so check timetable carefully to avoid a long wait in an area with few places to shelter
Info: Harvey Maps: Glasgow Popular Hills, OS Explorer 364
Directions: turn right out of station, head into Arrochar, then follow road round head of the loch to the start of forest path opposite car park at Succoth
Distance: 6 miles
Terrain: excellent, easy-to-follow stone path for majority of route, steepish climb at start, then reasonably gentle gradients, apart from final stretch to the summit which is very steep and involves a short section of scrambling
Refreshments: fish and chips and some daytime cafes  in Arrochar but few options in the evening, Tarbet, perhaps better bet

 

Cycle Tour; 

Where? Loch Katrine by western access from Inversnaid 

How? train from Glasgow Queen Street to Arrochar/Tarbet,  Cruise Loch Lomond www.cruiselochlomondltd.com  from Tarbet Pier across loch to Inversnaid (April-October), then cycle from Inversnaid  along Loch Arklet to Loch Katrine, with option of using paddle steamer, Sir Walter Scott  http://www.incallander.co.uk/steam.htm on outward or return journey across the loch

Loch Katrine

Why? quieter, better way to enjoy wonderful scenery and the iconic loch, without having to drive or having a long cycle in from Stirling

But; watch timings carefully to catch return sailings and take bike spares and emergency kit

Info; OS Landrangers 56,57 Harvey Superwalker 1:25,000  Glasgow Popular Hills www.harveymaps.co.uk

Directions; only one road out of Inversnaid, so cycle (or push!) up the hill out of the village and follow road along Loch Arklet to Stronachlachar, then either take the steamer to Trossachs Pier and cycle back, or cycle to Trossachs Pier and return on ferry

Distance; depends on what route you select, but with a full circuit of loch total distance will be in region of 30 miles

Terrain; quiet, mostly well-surfaced tarmac roads, steep climb out of Inversnaid,  undulating round the loch

Refreshments; Inversnaid Hotel www.lochsandglens.com/HotelInversnaid.asp

Cafes at Stronachlachar and Trossachs Pier www.lochkatrine.com meals and refreshments at Inversnaid Bunkhouse www.inversnaid.com

 

West Highland Way Walk: 

Where? stretch between Rowardennan and Inversnaid (or reverse) on eastern side of Loch Lomond 

How?  train from Glasgow Queen Street to Arrochar/Tarbet, then Cruise Loch Lomond www.cruiselochlomondltd.com  from Tarbet Pier across loch to Rowardennan (April-October) and back from Inversnaid, or route can be done in reverse from Inversnaid to Rowardennan

Looking Towards Arrochar

Why? fairly easy stretch of WHW on eastern side of Loch Lomond, within easy travelling distance of the city

But? can be busy, some of the route is in forest, so restricted views in places

Info; OS Explorer 364, 347, Harvey Superwalker 1:25,000  Glasgow Popular Hills www.harveymaps.co.uk

Directions; follow the obvious and plentiful route signs for the WHW

Distance; 8 miles

Terrain; good path with some gentle gradients

Refreshments; Rowardennan Hotel www.rowardennanhotel.co.uk Inversnaid Hotel www.lochsandglens.com/HotelInversnaid.asp

 

Walk with Culture: 

Where? Hill House, Helensburgh 

How? train from Glasgow Queen Street to Helensburgh, walk to marina at Rhu, then back through woodlands to the Rennie Mackintosh-designed Hill House in Helensburgh www.crmsociety.com

Why? opportunity to combine good little walk and great views of Clyde estuary, with visit to one of Mackintosh’s masterpieces, with plenty of interest and refreshments en route

But? check times in advance as Hill House opens on a seasonal basis and it can be busy in holiday periods

Info;  OS Landranger 56, Glasgow, 40 Town and Country Walks, www.pocketmountains.com

Directions; from Helensburgh station, head towards the shore and walk along the promenade to Rhu Marina, then turn right into Pier Road, right into Station Road and then up the hill till a large metal gate, before following the track through fields and woodlands to the Hill House

Distance; 7 miles

Terrain; tarmac roads and woodland paths, steep in places

Refreshments; selection of restaurants and cafes in Helensburgh, tea room at Hill House

 

Walk into History: 

Where? New Lanark Mills and Falls of Clyde 

How? train from Glasgow Central to Lanark, then take shuttle bus, or 20 minutes walk to New Lanark

New Lanark MIll Village

Why? see Robert Owen’s 18th century mill village, often regarded as the birthplace of socialism and now a World Heritage Site and combine with a walk along the Clyde valley past the spectacular Falls of Clyde, taking in a wildlife reserve along the way

But? train takes over an hour and the site can be very busy during holidays and in the summer

Info; www.newlanark.org Glasgow 40 Town and Country Walks, www.pocketmountains.com

Directions; walk or take the bus from station to the Visitor Centre at the village, then follow the signs for the Clyde Walkway

Falls of Clyde

Distance; 6 miles

Terrain; duckboards along parts of track, woodland paths, can be muddy and steep in places

Refreshments; cafe at New Lanark village, shops, cafes pubs in Lanark 

 

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04 May 2011

Enjoy Glasgow

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City Chambers

This is not designed as a definitive guide to Glasgow. The city has many and varied attractions – art, shopping, music, sport, architecture, history, to name but a few – and this points a few guidelines towards some of them. Use it to dip into some, or all, of your own particular interests, or to whet your appetite for a more detailed tour.

But whatever, enjoy your visit to the city. Glaswegians are noted for their friendly hospitality and most love to show off their knowledge of the city to visitors. So, if you do get lost, or need any information, ask bar or shop staff, or even someone in the street – although they might well be a  fellow tourist too!

 

BASE: GLASGOW GUEST HOUSE, 56 DUMBRECK ROAD, SOUTHSIDE 

www.glasgow-guest-house.co.uk

Glasow Guest House

My recommendation for a comfortable, hospitable, stylish stay in Glasgow, at reasonable price, has to be the Glasgow Guest House.  A sandstone villa, combining original Victorian features with en suite power showers and flat screen TVs, it enjoys a great location in the leafy suburb of Dumbreck, yet is only a five minute train ride from the city centre and close to both major motorways.  It’s renowned for great breakfasts, provides a residents’ kitchen and proprietor John, welcomes guests with traditional Glaswegian humour and hospitality.

 

Southside Tour: the House for an Art Lover, the Burrell, Pollok House and the Scotland Street School

Staying here in the Southside also enables you to combine four of Glasgow’s key attractions in one day.  The guest house is virtually next door to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park  www.houseforanartlover.co.uk   Don’t be put off by the approach as the interior is fantastic.  The house was created in the early 1990s from Mackintosh’s original, but unused, plans and it makes an interesting comparison with the Hill House in Helensburgh.

Route to the Burrell Collection through Pollok Park

In addition, the guesthouse is only a 20 minute walk (10 minute drive, the traffic is bad!) from the world famous Burrell Collection in Pollok Park

http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/our-museums/burrell-collection/ Considered one of the greatest collections of art ever accumulated by one person, the paintings, tapestries and ceramics of ship owner Sir William Burrell and his wife were gifted to the city and eventually housed here in the 1980s.  It is an astonishing collection and every bit a must-see as the Mackintosh legacy.

Pollok House

 

Also in the park is the 18th mansion Pollok House http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/48  now owned by the National Trust  for Scotland and home to more art treasures (Goya, Blake), an extensive library and beautiful gardens.

Not far away, also in the Southside, is another key Mackintosh building: the Scotland Street School http://www.scotcities.com/ mackintosh/scotlandst.htm This is a stunning example of Mackintosh’s architecture and also has some great reconstructions of classrooms through the 20th century.  It’s free and just across the road from Shields Road subway station. (Glasgow has a cheap and efficient underground system, known as the subway, or underground, but never the tube!)

 

 Charles Rennie Mackintosh Legacy: 

There are numerous other examples of CRM’s legacy in and around the city- have a look at: www.crmsociety.com  You can buy an all-in-one ticket to cover entry to the main Mackintosh attractions in and around Glasgow and the bus travel between them: https://kiosk.iristickets.co.uk/k?spt&MACKINTOSH  But you may not have time to visit them all, so if you are at all interested in Mackintosh, start with The School of Art; this is his masterpiece.

The School of Art www.gsa.ac.uk is right in the city centre, just off Sauchiehall Street. You will be shown round by a Mackintosh expert and provided with a wonderful introduction to CRM’s work.

As you are in the Garnethill area, try to fit in a visit to the Tenement House http://www.gnws.co.uk/glasgow/galleries  It’s just round the corner from the Art School, in Buccleuch Street. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, this wonderfully preserved interior of a typical Glasgow tenement provides an unforgettable social history of the city and is well worth a visit.

NB: although it’s tempting to spend all the time on the Mackintosh Trail, he was only one, if the most famous, of the adherents of the so-called Glasgow Style.  This emerged in the late 19th/early 20th centuries when crafts and tradespeople were given grants to study design to ensure that Glasgow retained its cutting edge in manufacture and production.  At that time, Glasgow was known as the Second City of the Empire and was the world’s leading centre for shipbuilding, as well as locomotive and other engineering. 

It had grown prosperous as a trading city and the influence of other parts of the world can be seen in design all over the city.  The exhibitions in Kelvingrove  http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/our-museums/kelvingrove/Pages/home.aspx on Glasgow and the World and Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style explain this really well (as does a general look at buildings in the city) and are important in appreciating the wider context of Mackintosh and his work.

Start with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Glasgow Style Gallery at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  This is the largest collection of the Glasgow Style’s media and techniques; eg, stained glass, textiles etc.

Any visit to Glasgow has to include a trip to Kelvingrove – the most visited museum outside London has everything from a Spitfire to a Dali, housed in a marvellous Victorian building and it’s free – so take some time to look around the rest of the museum while you’re  here.

Now make the short walk up Kelvin Way to the Mackintosh House at the University’s Hunterian  Art Gallery  http://www.hunterian.gla.ac.uk/collections/art_gallery/mac_house/machouse_index.shtml   Here the interior of 6 Florentine Terrace, Charles and Margaret Mackintosh’s home between 1906-14, has been recreated. (The gallery is free, but there is a small entrance charge for the Mackintosh House.)

Glasgow University

 This area was designed during Glasgow’s period of prosperity in the nineteenth century. So while you are in the West End, take a look round the Victorian spires of Glasgow University http://www.gla.ac.uk/about/history (designed by George Gilbert Scott of Albert Memorial, St Pancras Station fame) or if it’s not raining,  walk through Kelvingrove Park (designed by Joseph Paxton, best known for the original Crystal Palace); the Stewart Memorial Fountain, commemorating the establishment of the Loch Katrine water system is well worth a look, as is the statue to the renowned physicist, William Thomson, Lord Kelvin.

Riverside museum and Tall Ship

A short walk from Kelvingrove will take you to the city’s most recent must-see attraction,’ the new Riverside Transport Museum, at Pointhouse Place on the banks of the Clyde.  Designed by the award-winning architect, Zaha Hadid, this stunning building shares its waterfront location with the iconic Tall Ship, the “Greenlee”.

Trains and boats and trams in Riverside

Both building and ship testify to the city’s world-renowned industrial heritage and the museum contains over 3,000 exhibits, including locomotives, trams and models of famous ships built in Glasgow.

 

Byres Road/Ashton Lane, the student hub of the West End, is nearby, with some of the city’s best bars, restaurants and cafes and the independent Grosvenor cinema. You’ll find the Ubiquitous Chip and the Wee Curry House here, as well as some less crowded and less expensive places to eat and drink (see below, Eating, Drinking, Shopping).

 

Centre (East) and Merchant City, 

There’s much more to Glasgow than Mackintosh, so before you go, check out the other end of the city, to the east of the centre.

Glasgow Cathedral http://www.glasgowcathedral.org.ukis built on the site where St Kentigern, or Mungo, the first bishop within the ancient British kingdom of Strathclyde, was thought to have been buried in AD 612. The present cathedral was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and is the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland to have survived the 1560 Reformation virtually intact. 

Just across from the Cathedral is Provand’s Lordship,   http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/ta_provands.html   the oldest house in Glasgow (1471)  and the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/ta_st_mungos.html

Try to make time to visit the Necropolis, Glasgow’s unique hilltop cemetery, just south of the Cathedral.  Here an array of monuments,  many designed by leading architects, mark the graves of Glaswegians from a past age.

From here, head down High Street, past Glasgow Cross and the Tolbooth Steeple to Glasgow Green. This is the city’s oldest park; the green space where the original teams from both Celtic and Rangers played their first matches in the late 19th century.  Look for the needle-shaped Nelson’s Monument and you will see the Winter Gardens, a huge Victorian conservatory at the back of the People’s Palace, Glasgow’s social history museum http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/ta_peoples

Here you will see the story of the people and city of Glasgow through words, music, pictures and film and the tropical plants in the Winter Garden make an ideal backdrop for a relaxing refreshment after your tour.  As you step outside you’ll see the wonderfully-restored Doulton Fountain, while to the side is the amazing architecture of the former Templeton’s Carpet Factory.

Merchant City

Head towards the river and walk back along the Clyde Walkway, under St Andrew’s suspension bridge towards the city centre.  This brings you into the Merchant City.  This is the historic heart of Glasgow, now transformed by a massive regeneration over recent years. The grandiose townhouses of the merchants who built up the wealth of the city in the 18th century have now metamorphosed  into luxurious shops and trendy bars, restaurants and.cafes.  Read more about Merchant City at http://www.glasgowmerchantcity.net/merchant_city.html

 

GLASGOW: Eating, Drinking, Shopping: 

 Bars, Restaurants, Cafes: 

The Italian Centre

Believe it or not, Glasgow has always been known for its  cafe society – even if the pavement umbrellas are mostly used to deflect the rain, not the sun – and there is a strong Italian tradition of providing good coffee, cafes and ice cream. One of Mackintosh’s most famous commissions was for Miss Cranston’s tea rooms.

The Willow Tearooms in Sauchiehall and Buchanan Streets attempt to recreate this with copies of original furniture and fittings.  But although understandably popular with visitors, they are not among the best cafes in the city.

Rogano www.roganoglasgow.com in Royal Exchange Square is a Glasgow institution. Opened in the 1930s, it was fitted in the same Art Deco style as the most famous Clyde-built ship of the age, the Queen Mary.  Popular with all sorts of Glaswegians, you are quite likely to run into well-known faces from stage, screen and media amongst the clientele.

The West End, particularly around Byres Road and Ashton Lane has a wealth of acclaimed cafes, bars and restaurants, including the Wee Curry House and Ubiquitous Chip. And you don’t have to pay the earth to find good food and coffee, even in the West End. The Left Bank   http://www.theleftbank.co.uk/ 33-35 Gibson Street and its sister cafe/bar, The Two Figs http://www.thetwofigs.co.uk 5&9 Byres Road (the Kelvinhall end) are renowned for their good value food (and cocktails) and are both pleasant places to hang out.

But don’t  overlook the less fashionable areas of the city.Tucked away just off the Paisley Road West in Ibrox,  is Cherry and Heatherhttp://www.cherryandheather.co.uk 7 North Gower Street, Ibrox +44 0141 427 0272, a tiny gem of a deli/cafe, right across the road from the Glasgow Climbing Centre.

Merchant City is the place in the city centre to sample the best in food and drink that Glasgow has to offer.  Several Indian restaurants in Candleriggs are particularly well regarded and do visit the Corinthian Club in Ingram Street, www.thecorinthianclub.co.uk even if  just for a coffee and the opportunity to gaze at the ceilings and chandeliers of this beautifully revamped 18th century tobacco merchant’s townhouse.

Many consider the Tapa Bakehouse in Dennistoun and its outlet in the Southside www.tapabakehouse.co.uk serve the city’s best coffee.  Cranberry’s  is a cute little cafe in Merchant City, seen occasionally as a backdrop in episodes of Taggart, that sells good homemade soup and delicious cakes. And there are many more cafes across the city: but beware, the west of Scotland is traditionally renowned for its sweet tooth and favourites like millionaire’s shortbread and empire biscuits.

 

Shop Till You Drop: 

Glaswegians love to shop and the city centre is generally considered to offer the UK’s best shopping, outside London. 

Buchanan Street

The central shopping area takes the form of a large Z, with Buchanan Street in the middle and Argyle and Sauchiehall Streets running off at right angles at either end.

Buchanan Street has the flagship House of Fraser (including the original Wylie and Lochhead store, one of Glasgow’s landmark buildings) at one end and John Lewis, in the Buchanan Galleries, at the other. Princes Square, Royal Exchange Square, the Italian Centre and Merchant City, off Buchanan Street to the east, offer more upmarket options.

Royal Exchange Square

In general, the further away from the Buchanan Street apex on both Argyle and Sauchiehall, Streets, the more tacky the shops.

One real highlight of shopping in the city is to sit back and enjoy afternoon tea in the aforementioned Corinthian Club, after your retail expedition.

 

 GLASGOW: Theatres, Cinemas, Music 

 Theatres; 

Glasgow enjoys more theatres than anywhere else outside London’s West End.  They include:

Tron,

Pavilion

Theatre Royal

King’s

Citizen

Arches

and more…….

Cinemas;

The city claims to have the tallest cinema in the world, Cineworld at the top of Renfield street; you can’t miss it!

There are two good independents, the Grosvenor and the Glasgow Film Theatre.

 Music; 

You’ll find every type of live music from small bands playing in pubs, to top stars at the SECC, Royal Concert Halls and Theatre Royal.  Oasis were reputedly discovered at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and there are numerous other musical venues.

Karaoke abounds, particularly a Glaswegian version known as Curry Karaoke.  If you fancy a tikka masala while you listen to the next SuBo, the most scenic venue (can’t vouch for its tunefulness) is by the Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour.

 For all entertainment, check out: www.seeglasgow.co.uk 

 

ENJOY!

 

 

 

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