Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

15th June 2010

Glasgow-ing home

Friday morning, and time to prepare to head home. There was time for one last indulgence, however. My train wasn’t until lunchtime, so we had a couple of hours free: just time for Nuno and I to take a spin round the Glasgow Subway. I dropped my suitcase at Glasgow Central’s left luggage office — where the world’s most bored-looking attendant asked me sleepily if I had explosives in the case — and headed for the underground.

Glasgow Subway ticket

No messing about with complicated prices here, just a simple £1.20 single fare to any station.

The subway originally opened in 1896. Although refurbished in the 1970s, it has never been expanded beyond its original circular route, and doesn’t completely fulfil the transport needs of modern Glasgow. There is only one direct interchange with National Rail (at Partick) and many important parts of the city are not served.

Glasgow Subway map

One notable feature of the Subway is its tiny little trains: the tunnels have a diameter of just 11 feet, smaller than even the narrowest London tube tunnels. The trains of course have to be a similar diminutive stature and for a newcomer to the network, it can be slightly disconcerting.

Glasgow Subway tunnel and train

The trains themselves are perfectly OK – they are basically slightly shrunken tube carriages. I’m not sure I’d like to be on a crowded one during rush hour though.

Interior of Glasgow Subway carriage

We rode almost all the way round the circle, from Buchanan Street to St Enoch in an anti-clockwise direction. Glasgow’s subway isn’t the most amazing system, but it is interesting in its own way, and I hope the funding is found somewhere to keep it running long into the future.

We still had over an hour left, so we hung around in the nearby shopping centre like a couple of moody teenagers. Hamley’s toy store was charming. Less pleasant were the repeated announcements over the PA system warning us not to take photographs “for our security”.

And that was it. I returned to Glasgow Central station where my train south was waiting for me. I said my goodbyes to Nuno, who had been brilliant company for the whole five days I’d been here, and went to find my seat.

Upon boarding the Virgin Pendolino, I soon discovered that my “window” seat lined up exactly with a blank wall. Luckily there was an empty seat nearby with a much better view, so I made a beeline for it.

As we headed back south, I had plenty of time to contemplate the past week. I had gone from vibrant city to remote highlands and back again, and the whole experience had been nothing short of wonderful. Can holidays like this change a person permanently? Maybe — it’s certainly had an effect on me. Before leaving Liverpool I had been nervous and slightly out of my comfort zone – sleeping in bunkhouses in isolated villages and climbing up mountains had never been my idea of a good time until now. But I did it, and I’m really glad I did, because I enjoyed every second of it.

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