Glasgow – a wander westwards
Glasgow has a rich artistic heritage. This route takes in some of it’s most inspirational architecture and fine art as well as some interesting bits of history.
Apart from a short sharp climb near the start, and a bit of up and down behind the Art School, this is a largely level walk on a mixture of pavements and park paths.
Start on Sauchiehall street as a central location at the top of the pedestrian precinct. There are things to see around here anyway. Round the corner in Rose Street is the GFT, an art deco cinema still used for arthouse films. And, a couple of blocks to your left is Blythswood square where the infamous Madeleine Smith slowly poisoned her lover (or did she, she got off as ‘not proven’) in a notorious murder case (fascinating woman who ended up with connections to the pre-Raphaelites before moving to New York). Her grandfather David Hamilton, was an architect responsible for some of the cities most notable buildings too, including what is now the Gallery of Modern Art down in Queen Street. So it’s a fitting start.
Going west up Sauchiehall street, we will turn right up Scott street (you can avoid this, as it’s probably the steepest street in the city, by starting on Renfrew street). Peer between the buildings on the other side of the street and you’ll see some Georgian villas which are the remains of Albany Place which at one time formed the top part of Sauchiehall street with gardens running down to the street. They built in front of them and left them sandwiched between. Some are still lived in, and some are incorporated into other buildings. You can see one very clearly in the CCA cafe.
The famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh School of Art is beside you. You can’t get inside at the moment as it’s being restored painstakingly after a terrible fire a couple of years ago that had the city in tears! Most of the building was saved thank goodness, but the wonderful library was completely destroyed. You can do a tour of the furniture gallery etc in the Reid building though. http://www.gsa.ac.uk/visit-gsa/tours/
Keep going up and over Scott Street and turn left along Buccleuch street. Right at the end is the Tenement House. Discovered as an untouched time capsule of early 20th century tenement life. Mrs Toward was a seamstress and it’s rather more genteel than the single end in the People’s Palace but fascinating. Well worth a visit.
From here you can either follow the street round the bend but there’s nothing to see there bar motorway so I’d go back to Garnet street and back two blocks towards the Art School then right onto Renfrew street to head towards the motorway footbridge. Keep an eye on the south side of the street as you go, as you see some more clues to Albany Place here. Especially look out for the composers busts which mark what was once a piano showroom. You get a good view from the top of the footbridge towards the Mitchell library dome and Park circus and closer to hand the two curved blocks of rather swish apartments. Sadly the motorway beneath you removed a large chunk of this part of town. Cut down onto Sauchiehall street from here into the terraces of town houses which are now mostly offices. If you’re ready for some lunch McPhabbs on Sandyford place is really good. Or there are a few decent Indian restaurants around here.
Cross over and go up Clifton street beside the rather striking Hindu temple and you can get into the start of Kelvingrove park. If it’s sunny it will be busy with sunbathers but otherwise it’s peaceful and a rather lovely Victorian park. The elegant Park Circus is above you, looking almost Parisian with it’s wrought ironwork and landmark towers. If you climb the steps up to Park Terrace you get a rather good view southwards towards the Clyde. When I was a young’un working as a junior nearby this area was all offices, some of which were quite dilapidated. Then it was developed back into very elegant homes. Wish I’d had the cash to buy one of those run down places then! I’d be worth a fortune!
Follow the park west, and you’ll soon be aware of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum ahead. The enormous sandstone building dominates the west end, as does the University spire on the hill. Definitely visit the museum, it’s utterly fabulous whether you like art (there is a stupendous Dali, a Van Gogh and a Rembrandt for starters, but the Glasgow colourists are wonderful too) or are interested in the country’s history.
From here you can either follow the signs to the nearby Hunterian Museum for another dose of Mackintosh if you aren’t cultured out! Or go round onto Byres Road. Lots of quirky shops there, and some lovely places to eat, especially on the lanes such as Ashton Lane and Cresswell Lane.
From here you can grab a bus or the underground back to the city centre. Or, if you have energy left, walk back down Great Western Road and through Woodlands to the back of Park Circus to make a loop.