There’s something about sitting on the top deck of a doubledecker bus that seems to bring out my inner child, harking back to the days when my mum used to take me into town shopping on the bus. I was always disappointed as a child if that bus wasn’t a doubledecker, and just as disappointed if someone was sat in the seat above the driver so I couldn’t pretend to be driving the bus. Whilst I’m not as fussy about the type of bus or my choice of seat these days, there’s no better way of seeing your adopted city from the top of a doubledecker bus. And not the mainstream, touristy red ones that you see depositing hordes of camera clicking visitors on University Avenue every day. Nope, the white, blue and pink ones, of which over 1,000 run on the streets of Glasgow daily, taking people to the misguidingly exotic sounding locations of Eaglesham, Barlanark, Carnwadric, Faifley, Penilee, Greenhills and Lindsayfield.
Most people’s knowledge of Glasgow’s buses probably comes from either Limmy’s Show where Dee Dee takes a trip to Yoker, or Kevin Bridges talking about the Number 40 bus. But Glasgow’s buses provide a reasonably cheap (a day ticket for First, who run most of the buses throughout the Glasgow city area, costs £4.50) way of sightseeing and visiting the many attractions on offer throughout the city.
You’ll also get to visit places that you never thought you would, and there’s no better way to remind yourself that there’s more to Glasgow than the West End bubble by taking the number 40 bus. The contrasts in wealth between areas, the beautiful parks and buildings built in a previous time, as well as neds sitting on the back seat drinking and smoking at half ten in the morning. You can also make it out into the countryside, with the number 44 bus (the one that runs along University Avenue), heading out south into East Renfrewshire to Eaglesham and Newton Mearns, climbing up high with marvellous views across the city to the Campsie Fells, and where it’s also possible to walk down quiet country lanes, just a few miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The frequency of the buses on most of the main routes (the 62 runs every 7 minutes or more frequently, the 44 and the 66 run every 12 minutes or more frequently) means it’s easy to hop on and hop off buses without having to rely on timetables (although if you’re travelling on Sundays or at weekends it’s best to check).
So dig out £4.50 (First buses don’t give change), print off a copy of the First route network, head out to your nearest bus stop and flag down the first bus that comes your way, and head out to see parts of Glasgow that you never thought you’d see.
No. 62 – Partick Interchange – Clydebank Bus Station (via the mythical Yoker)
No. 40 – Clydebank Bus Station – Drumchapel – Bearsden – Maryhill – City Centre – Duke Street – Shettleston – Easterhouse Shopping Centre
No. 38 – Easterhouse Shopping Centre – Garthamlock – Ruchazie – Alexandra Park – City Centre – Shawlands – Eastwood Toll – Newton Mearns Cross
No. 44A – Newton Mearns Cross – Clarkston
No. 44 – Clarkston – Eaglesham
Walk from Eaglesham to Carmunnock
No. 31 – Carmunnock – Castlemilk – Mount Florida – City Centre
No. 9 – City Centre – Partick Interchange
View Partick, stance 3 Bus Station on Merkland Street in a larger map
What better way to see Scotland than to let someone else do the driving? Whilst Scotland’s rail network is nowhere near as extensive as it may have been in the inter-war years, what’s left of it takes you to some pretty spectacular places. Whilst Michael Comerford mentioned on Day 12 the attractions of the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig, there are other lines in Scotland, namely the Far North Line from Inverness to Thurso and Wick, and the Kyle Line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, which in my opinion are just as scenic, if not more so, than the West Highland Line.
Both lines pass through a stunning mixture of scenery, running along the seashore for many miles (keep an eye out for seals), across deserted moorland (keep an eye out for deer) as well as past historic monuments such as Dunrobin Castle and Carbisdale Castle (now a Youth Hostel). Whichever side of the train you sit on you’ll be sure to be kept entertained for the whole journey, and you’ll see things on the other side that will make you want to sit on that side on the way back. At times, such as where the Far North Line crosses what is known as Flow Country, described as one of the ‘last real wildernesses in the UK’, between Forsinard and Thurso, it’s hard to imagine you’re in the same country as Inverness, never mind Glasgow.
A Day Return with a Railcard is £15.85 from Inverness to Wick, and £14.85 from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, which for travelling almost the distance from Glasgow to London is pretty good value for money. Alternatively, consider getting a Highland Rover ticket, which for £78 allows you the freedom of trains, buses and ferries in the Highlands over four days, meaning you can include visiting Aberdeen, Fort William, Mallaig and Oban as well as travelling to islands such as Skye, Mull and Orkney.