Great as Glasgow is, sometimes you can tire of grey buildings, grey skies and grey faces. Instead of stepping over last night’s kebabs, you find yourself yearning for green grass and fresh northern winds. Away from the ABC crowd you can see birds and stallions of a different variety, and while it might still be raining elsewhere, your day will feel so much brighter if you take a trip to Loch Lomond rather than Byres Road. Here are some suggestions to inspire you to get out of Glasgow for the day, de-stress and make the most of Scotland.
Just north of Glasgow lies Britain’s largest freshwater lake — the mighty Loch Lomond. Take the bus (204 or 215) from Osborne Street in the city centre for £3.20 return, and within an hour you’ll arrive at Loch Lomond’s dramatic shores. There’s plenty to do: why not visit the aquarium, where students pay £10 (or £7 if you buy in advance online). Or, to sample a taste of Scotland, visit the farmers’ market, which sells local produce and delicacies from 10am-4pm every second Sunday, starting from October 4.
Come Halloween, send shivers down your spine with an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s spookiest play, Macbeth, by the Walking Theatre Company, taking place in the woods around the loch. Ticket prices start at £10 per car group (contact Glenbranter Information Centre for more details).
Largs and The Isle of Cumbrae
It’s hard to beat a day at the seaside, and out-of-season resort towns have a particular charm, so head to Largs for a walk along the shorefront with a bag of chips and enjoy the fresh air — just keep an eye out for the greedy seagulls! To get to Largs, take the train from Glasgow Central (a return costs £7.95). Once there, visit the Isle of Cumbrae: head to the harbour and hop on the ferry (£3.10). Cumbrae is a picturesque little island with great views of the wild seas and surrounding mountains. If you take the minibus to Milport Town, you can hire bikes from Mapes & Sons and explore this tiny island on two wheels. A day’s bike hire costs £4.60, while tandems are £12. After all that exercise and sea air you’ll probably be starving, so head back to Largs and enjoy some delicious Scottish-Italian cuisine and an indulgently retro knickerbocker glory in the famous Nardini’s Café.
Birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots (and First Minister Alex Salmond…), Linlithgow exudes history and romance. Buy a return ticket from Glasgow Queen Street for £9.90 and spend a day exploring its cobbled streets and marvelling at Linlithgow Palace, where Queen Mary was born. Bring a bag of stale bread, stroll around the Peel (a small loch) and feed the swans and geese among the weeping willows. Tour the palace (£5.20) and take a step back in time through banqueting halls, dungeons and towers. Linlithgow Palace will also be hosting ghost walks over the Halloween weekend, giving you a glimpse into the more gruesome and ghostly side of the palace’s history. After all that you may well need a drink, so head to the Black Bitch Tavern for a tipple (and perhaps a few photos outside this interestingly named pub).