We had left England’s Lake District four weeks earlier and set out for our road trip around Scotland, taking the M6 motorway before branching off onto the A7 just north of Carlisle to take the scenic route through the Scottish Borders.
On the road to Glasgow: Stirling Castle and the view from it.
Starting in Edinburgh we encircled the mainland and visited a few of the islands as well. Many of the places we stopped at have been featured in recent blogs. Now we had arrived in Glasgow, our last stop on the journey. We stayed at the Maldron Hotel, one of the best locations in the city, just a few minutes’ walk from many of the main attractions including its two liveliest streets, Sauchiehall and Buchanan.
Sauchiehall Street stretches from the centre of Glasgow way out towards the west and has long been a major thoroughfare in the city. Developed from 1800 onwards as wealthy citizens wanted to build themselves homes on the outskirts of the city, the street was revitalised in the 1860s, at the turn of the century and during the 1960s.
There had been some decline in the street since the middle of the last century, as the retail and entertainment worlds changed and the main shopping areas consolidated in the heart of the city, but it’s buzzing again now.
The pedestrian-only Buchanan Street, Glasgow.
Glasgow claims its city centre is one of the best shopping destinations in the UK, outside of London's West End. I couldn’t see it myself but as one who shops out of necessity rather than for pleasure, what would I know? But Glasgow does have a diverse culinary scene, an abundance of pubs and bars and some of the UK's best music venues. The pub pictured below is The Counting House, a cavernous establishment on St Vincent Place.
The Counting House is one of eight Wetherspoons pubs in Glasgow, a UK chain highly regarded for its low prices and consistency, with the food and drink on offer being broadly similar across all venues.
This pub was once the premises of a newspaper publisher.
Glasgow also has museums dedicated to European art and history including the fabulous Kelvingrove in the city’s west end. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1901 and is a firm favourite with both local residents and visitors. It has stunning architecture and a family-friendly atmosphere. There are 22 galleries to explore and a revolving program of temporary exhibitions and displays.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The Burrell Collection is one of the greatest art collections ever amassed by one person, consisting of more than 9,000 objects spanning 6,000 years of history. The Burrell Collection was only just reopening when we were there, following an extensive refurbishment and redisplay due for completion in 2020 but delayed by the pandemic.
The Burrell Collection is housed in an award-winning building (above) in the heart of Pollok Country Park, Glasgow's largest green space. The collection is named after its donor, the shipping magnate Sir William Burrell.
The displays range from work by major artists including Rodin, Degas and Cézanne to important examples of late medieval art, Chinese and Islamic art, ancient civilizations and more. Regular temporary exhibitions are hosted at The Burrell, which also runs an extensive program of events and activities for children. In a new exhibition visitors can explore the astonishing legacy of Sir William Burrell and his wife, Constance, featuring selected works from the collection, as well as two new acquisitions on display for the first time. The exhibition runs until 16 April 2023 and entry is free.
The Riverside is a multi-award-winning museum located on the banks of the River Clyde, with over 3000 objects on display from Glasgow’s rich past, including such diverse exhibits as vintage cars, prams, skateboards and huge locomotives. You can even walk down an old, cobbled Glasgow street with shops dating from 1895 to the 1980s.
Berthed outside, and reflected in the Riverside’s windows, is the Tall Ship, Glenlee, the UK's only floating Clyde-built sailing ship, and free to enter.
Also in this area the Clyde Auditorium, which quickly became affectionately known as 'the Armadillo' after it was completed in 1997, and if you look at the picture above you’ll see why. The name has since been formally adopted and it is now called the SEC Armadillo, the first part of the name referring to the Scottish Event Campus.
Created by world-renowned architects Foster+Partners – responsible for the designs of Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok Airport, London’s former City Hall, Hearst Tower New York and the Bilbao Metro among others – the Armadillo was designed from the inside out with the requirements of conference delegates and speakers as the prime consideration. It offers 3,000 seats over three levels yet has the ability to provide an ideal setting for much smaller meetings. It has a substantial stage backed up with breakout rooms, registration area and organiser's offices. It is claimed to be one of Europe's leading conference venues.
Foster+Partners were also involved in creating the OVO Hydro, another part of the SEC complex. Since opening in September 2013, OVO Hydro has played host to national and international music megastars as well as global entertainment and sporting events. It was also one of the venues for last year’s Cop26 climate change summit. With a maximum capacity of 14,300, OVO Hydro augments the SEC’s existing facilities and stages 140-plus events annually.
Back in the city centre, the following shots were taken at random while walking the streets.
At the end of our stay we were able to walk from our hotel to Glasgow’s Queen Street Station, from where we were catching a train to London. We had to change trains in Edinburgh and while waiting on the platform I spotted this scrawny fox scavenging for food down around the tracks.
I was alarmed to see it wander right into the middle of the track just as our train was pulling into the station. For a moment I thought we were about to witness a grisly scene, but this was a fox that had obviously learned how to survive in a city environment. At the last minute it sprang effortlessly up onto the platform and walked away, oblivious to the hordes of people waiting to catch the train. Not an everyday sight but one that demonstrates the growing phenomenon of urban wildlife.
Photos © Judy & Barry Barford