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The Glasgow Subcrawl – an alternative way to see Glasgow

The Glasgow Subcrawl

The ultimate Glasgow pubcrawl

An alternative way of getting to know Glasgow better is to get involved in a Glasgow Subcrawl. Although I’m certainly not promoting getting completely inebriated, this is an interesting way to experience a different side of the city. The Glasgow subway has 15 stops, and the Subcrawl involves getting off at each stop (or chosen stops), heading to the nearest pub and having a drink. Giving you a bit of a break to start with, there are a couple of stops that the majority miss out due to the lack of a nearby hostelry. I’m only a little haggis and therefore my tolerance for even 13 alcoholic beverages isn’t the best, so although I can guide you to a full Subcrawl experience, I have to admit that I have not completed all the stops.

Being a sensible haggis, I thought it would be best to start the day with a full Scottish breakfast before I headed to St Enochs subway station to buy my all day ticket at the cost of £4. A recommended pub for this stop is Hootenanny,  a traditional Scottish bar and restaurant with a modern twist and who will provide a great welcome. There are many other options nearby, and my friends and I chose a local Wetherspoons which had a fantastic breakfast menu. With one drink under our belts it was time to face our first subway journey; a brief trip to Bridge Street and a visit to The Lauriston pub. This bar’s history dates back to 1836, but today the Lauriston presents a good old-fashioned choice of bar or lounge. As I was part of a decent sized crowd of Subcrawl revellers, we chose the lounge to get seats, but we still managed to get some banter with the staff, and our photo taken, which is a Lauriston tradition.

Back on the subway, with no tickets lost so far, we enjoyed a longer journey, skipping both West Street and Shields Road. We nearly got a new addition to our team when an older gentleman joined in with our version of a Mexican wave but with some further chat, he decided it wasn’t worth the grief he’d get from his wife if he sloped off to the pub with some strangers instead of heading home. Off we got, in good spirits at Kinning Park station, and a wee wander down the road to The Bellrock. This clean and nicely decorated pub was extremely welcoming; the staff are completely used to Subcrawlers arriving in large groups, some in outlandish fancy dress, and they were friendly and patient with our drinks orders. We again managed to get seats in this wee boozer, away from the big TV that was showing the football, and we had the ‘pleasure’ of one of the locals company who tried to charm all the ladies by calling them ‘Miss’ and told us his wife didn’t understand him. Some hilarity ensued (I’m afraid I can’t divulge the topic of said hilarity) and then discussion took place on whether to go to Cessnock or chance going to the Ibrox recommended pub, which is possibly the most ‘Rangers’ pub in Glasgow. As The Rangers had a draw in their game that day, we decided it should have a fairly balanced atmosphere and so off to the subway we went, skipping The Kensington at Cessnock.

The Louden Tavern was quite the experience. The pub itself is basically like an industrial unit, decked out in red, white and blue and it is completely dedicated to this particular football club.  The bar occupies the length of the room, there are numerous televisions throughout. The wall opposite the bar featured photo dedications to players past and present, and there are various other pieces of memorabilia on display. The music was blaring, although I did not personally know a single song, the regulars certainly did; there was a great deal of singing, with arms in the air and even some ‘gallus’¹ dancing. Lone men, possibly having consumed a few beers, were seen having a wee jig to themselves, and there seemed to be a great deal of random hugging amongst the folk who were in groups. The regulars also seemed to be privy to a cup of soup but this wasn’t offered to the Subcrawlers; perhaps our wide eyed interest on the goings-on made it hugely apparent that we were not in the regulars’ category of clientele. I’m led to believe that the Louden Tavern is only open on matchdays, so if you are planning to stop by, you should perhaps check first.

The next stop is Govan, and the recommended pub for this stop is called Brechin’s Bar. This pub was apparently established in 1798, with the current building erected in 1894 and it boasts a tower in Scots Baronial style. High up on the southern side of the building is a stone carving of a cat, immortalising one prolific rat catcher who killed large numbers of rodents which had been brought to Govan on vessels carrying flax for the local weavers. There is a local superstition that Govan will cease to exist when the cat falls down. Wee Kilty here did not learn this bit of information from any of the Brechin’s customers; they were too busy engaging in some banter.

If you have done any research into a Glasgow Subcrawl, you will know that they are popular with students. As we entered the Brechin Bar, such a group were on their way to their next destination, and some quick-witted bar fly announced “Here come the mature students” as our group trailed in. I have to say this was my favourite pub purely for the entertaining chat and lively engagement with the local crowd. The staff were friendly and efficient, and took the large order of beverages in their stride; they didn’t bat an eyelid when a smoker accidently set fire to the bucket that was serving as an ashtray outside, and just calmly poured a jug of water over the smouldering plastic as if it was a regular occurrence.

So far everyone had survived their trip south of the Clyde, but now it was time to head to Partick. With a quick stop by Greggs for a few of us, the next chosen pub was the Deoch An Doris, handily situated just round the corner from Partick subway station. Although this is a lovely big pub, it always seems to be busy so our group became a bit fragmented here – there is also the possibility that the alcohol was kicking in, and opinions on what to drink, where to gather, where to go next were being expressed more vocally. It didn’t seem to help matters that there were now a huge variety of pub choices nearby. The decision was taken that the next pub would be the Lismore by Kelvinhall subway station, but some decided to walk along Dumbarton Road as opposed to sticking to the original remit, and a slight detour then took place with a visit to The Storm Queen which was offering late afternoon Karaoke. There was no shortage of singers or dancers in our group, and we ended up staying for more than one drink here, leading to the need to replenish the kitty. Our next stop was actually near Kelvinhall station even though we hadn’t actually taken the subway to this stop; The Sparkle Horse. This establishment maintains a traditional feel and prides itself on quality produce, excellent presentation and service. We were made to feel very welcome and it was a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

So after an unspecified period of time and a few detours, we finally made it back on the subway – next stop Hillhead. There are many pubs to choose from here; Curlers Rest, Tennent’s Bar or a selection in Ashton Lane. Our Subcrawlers decided on Jinty McGuinty’s in Ashton Lane which is as the name might suggest an Irish pub full of character and usually full of people. It is a cash only bar, and there is regular live music; it also has a large beer garden if the weather is good and you arrive when the sun is still shining. By now everyone was a tad on the tipsy side, the volume of chatter was increasing with every drink and most conversation seemed to be found amusing by all.

Our group leader most likely felt like he was herding cats as he tried to get everyone organised to head to the next station, but we made it to Kelvinbridge and got a wee bit of fresh air as we wandered round the corner to The Doublet Bar. Another popular choice at this station is Inn Deep. The Doublet is a traditional wee boozer with a regular crowd. Despite the décor being slightly on the tired side, the staff are friendly and there is a good selection of beers and spirits. Although I absolutely didn’t need to increase my alcohol intake any further, at the time it seemed like the right kind of establishment for a half pint of Guinness with a Baileys on the side – a great combo. A few of our original party had fallen by the wayside by this point, so we had no trouble fitting in and getting some chat with the locals.

Back we went to Kelvinbridge station to move on to our next stop; St George’s Cross, and a visit to Wintersgills. This pub was very welcoming with a decent amount of space, very clean and unpretentious. The staff were very helpful and chatty and didn’t seem to mind taking part in our lengthy discussion on what drinks to order next. Wintersgills has as long tradition with live music and this is a regular feature on a Saturday night. Nothing was going to stop the women in our group from starting a slosh², proving the point that you can indeed ‘slosh’ to any song. By this time of the night everyone was in full party mode, and happy to dance where they were standing. Fairly indecisive discussion took place on whether to attempt the last two stops to complete the Subcrawl, but the majority vote was that we would press on and try complete our 12 chosen subway stops.

From St George’s Cross to Cowcaddens was a fairly uneventful journey, if you ignore the singing that took place in the carriage, and we walked up to The Station Bar – another traditional pub with lovely staff that didn’t seem to mind our exuberant arrival. The prices were reasonable and the location being in Glasgow’s Theatreland seems to attract an eclectic and friendly crowd. The Station Bar has a reputation for being one of the city’s finest real ale pubs, but Wee Kilty here by this stage of the day decided to try a Vodka Redbull in the hope that the caffeine kick would see me through to the end of the Subcrawl.

And so our happy bunch wandered back to the station to complete our final stop, Buchanan Street subway station. Although a busy city centre pub on a Saturday night, we chose Waxy O’Connors for our grand finale to the Subcrawl experience. This establishment is like a maze (especially at the end of a Subcrawl) encompassing 6 different bars and 9 difference spaces. We managed to find a spot to gather in the bar area just at Dundas Lane – the bar the shortest distance from the subway exit used. There were scenes of great celebration for being still standing at the end of our Subcrawl Adventure, and our organiser kindly arranged a few rounds of shots…….of water with the aim of avoiding any ill effects from our boozy indulgences the following day. All in all, a successful and very entertaining day.

1. Gallus is a word used to describe bold or flashy behaviour – typically you either have this incorrigible swagger or you don’t.

2. A popular line dance from the 1970s, commonly known as the dance of choice for inebriated women at weddings.

 

Hootenany at St. Enoch subway station
Hootenanny
The Laurieston at Bridge Street subway station
The Laurieston
The Bellrock at Kinning Park Station
The Bellrock
Interior of the Louden Tavern at Ibrox subway station
The Louden Tavern
Brechin's Bar
Deoch An Doris at Partick subway station
Deoch An Doris
The Sparkle Horse
Jinty McGuinty's near Hillhead subway station
Jinty McGuinty's
The Doublet
Wintergills near St George's Cross subway station
Wintersgills
Station Bar at Cowcaddens subway tation
The Station Bar
Waxy O'Connors at Buchanan Street subway station
Waxy O'Connors

Visit Glasgow University…

Visit Glasgow University....

I’m not an educated haggis but I can still recommend the value of a visit to the University of Glasgow. This university is one of the oldest universities in Scotland, founded in 1491. Glasgow University moved to it’s West End campus in 1870 from High Street, and it has more listed buildings than at any other university in the UK. Wee Kilty here can appreciate the beauty of the gothic revival style of the main building. You can see the signature bell tower from many points across the city.

You may well be a prospective student, and although Wee Kilty can’t advice you on this process, I can give you an idea of the best spots to visit.

My favourite spot on campus is either the East or West Quadrangles – I can’t choose between them. They are very picturesque courtyards and popular with both students and visitors alike. It’s in the quadrangles that student graduation day celebrations take place. 

The Cloisters connect the two quadrangles and these impressive archways are an iconic part of Glasgow University. You may recognise them from many films and television shows including Cloud Atlas and Outlander. You may also get the feeling that you’re at Hogwarts, if you’re a fan of Harry Potter.

A wander to the front of the main building will take you to the University’s Flagpole. From this vantage point you can see some of Kilty’s favourite West End haunts, including Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Kelvin Hall. On a clear day, the views are stunning as you see the city laid out before you.

Another beautiful building worth seeing is the University Chapel. In 1929 the University Chapel became an addition to the campus as a memorial to staff, graduates and students who lost their lives in the Great War. The memorial chapel is a place of beauty for both worship and celebration.

Across from the University Chapel you will see Professors’ Square. This stunning row of 13 townhouses was built to house the university’s professors. The Principal’s Lodging at number 12 is the only building still in use as a residence today.

What Wee Kilty likes so much about the Lion and Unicorn staircase is that it was relocated from the High Street campus. Brick by brick it was moved by horse and cart before being rebuilt by hand and incorporated into the new building in 1870.

You may have noticed that the weather in Glasgow is not always entirely conducive to a dodder about outside. A visit to the Hunterian Museum, Scotland’s oldest public museum, could be the answer. Founded in 1807 with donations by William Hunter, it is home to one of Scotland’s largest collections. On view are scientific instruments used by James Watt, Joseph Lister and Lord Kelvin. You can also see Hunter’s extensive anatomical teaching instruments and Roman artefacts from the Antonine Wall. You can also visit the Hunterian Art Gallery, featuring over 900 paintings and permanent displays.

The University of Glasgow gets some fantastic reviews from visitors to Glasgow. Guided tours are available at 2pm Tuesday – Sunday or you can buy a map from the gift shop to conduct your own self guided tour. It’s a real gem in this wonderful city.

Glasgow University buildings
Glasgow University Cloisters
Kilted Haggis tour group at the Glasgow University Flagpole
The Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University

Hidden Gems of Glasgow – Cafes

Hidden Gems of Glasgow – Cafes

One of the many things I’ll say about Glaswegians is that we do not like to be behind the times – we’re more of the trend-setting sort.  Our glorious city has fully engaged with the exceptional rise in café culture in recent years.  Although the big-name high street chains are very much present, there are plenty of innovative independent cafés that offer something special.  Here are a few wee hidden gems of Glasgow that you might like to check out……

Tchai-Ovna

Advertised as Scotland’s original teahouse, this fabulous venue is more than a café. You can enjoy music or exhibitions, eat delicious vegetarian food whilst having a unique cup of tea, chosen from a huge selection.  Wee Kilty here is fond of a cuppa, but I have to say I could spend at least half an hour perusing the tea menu.  My favourite is the yogi yougi chai latte, and I take  a great deal of pleasure in topping up my unconventional wee teacup from the teapot.

The decor is of a bohemian, eclectic style and it has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.  It kind of feels like you are entering the cosy and quirky living room of an eccentric old auntie.  I could easily spend hours there chilling out – playing a game or reading while enjoying the people watching.  It seems like everyone who hangs out here is happy. 

Tchai Ovna is still one of Glasgow’s mostly lesser-known treasured secrets, and it is literally kind of hidden, tucked away down a wee cobbled lane. If you’re in the West End, and fancy something a bit different then I would recommend a visit.

The Hidden Lane Tearoom

For some time I’ve been meaning to check out the Hidden Lane in Finnieston.   I was not expecting to find such a wide range of crafty wee businesses in such a unique venue of  multi coloured and higgledy piggledy studios. The tearoom has become a hub for this creative community. There are over 30 different teas on offer along with a creative yet comforting menu including homemade soups, stews or a fantastic range of homemade cakes and bakes.  Wee Kilty can guarantee a great welcome and a tasty, refreshing experience.

Singl-end Café and Bakehouse

Based in Renfrew Street (Charing Cross End) this wee hidden gem certainly has lots to offer the discerning diner.  This community café has such an interesting bo-ho style and cool vibe, and the menu covers all the bases for your snacking needs.  There are plenty of healthy options amongst the glorious range of cakes, and it would be easy to spend several comfortable hours here munching through the exceptional range of tasty treats.  Brunch seems to be a bit of a speciality, with several options for vegetarians or vegans.  A nice touch is the range of breads baked in house.   

Café Strange Brew

No stranger to the South Side of town I happened across this lovely café recently and thoroughly enjoyed my visit. As you probably know by now, wee Kilty has quite the appetite and choosing from the homemade cake selection wasn’t easy. There are several things I really liked about this place; it has a motto (I’m a fan of a motto) – ‘Keeping Shawlands Strange’, it has an interesting menu with veggie, vegan and gluten free options, it has an excellent reputation for brunch (I do like the occasional lie in so brunch should be more widely available in my opinion) and it has a lovely cosy atmosphere. The staff are super friendly and helpful, and dogs are welcome.

Hidden Gems of Glasgow – Ashton Lane

Hidden Gems of Glasgow - Ashton Lane

One of my favourite places, Ashton Lane is situated just off one of the main streets in Glasgow’s West End – Byres Road. It’s a charming lane with a cobbled street, with a fantastic range of pubs and restaurants, plus a retro independent cinema – The Grosvenor which opened in 1921. Being a sociable fellow, wee Kilty here has visited several of these fine establishments, many of which have a unique atmosphere.

I’ve on occasion been known to enjoy a pint by the roaring fire in the upstairs bar of the Ubiquitous Chip – the restaurant has an excellent reputation locally and the various bars always seem to attract a crowd. Across the lane, my drink of choice is Guiness in Jinty McGintys – a top notch wee Irish boozer which hosts live music every weekend, and I have been known to start the dancin’. Another favourite spot is Brel, which promotes itself as Ashton Lane’s most magical venue and claims to have the most awesome beer garden in Glasgow. I’m rather partial to enjoying a beer or two from their fine selection of world beers and although what to select from the menu can be tricky when there are so many delicious options, typically Moules Frites wins out.

And while we’re talking food – wee Kilty boy has quite the appetite. When it comes to a good curry, a serious decision has to be made; the independent, vibrant Wee Curry Shop or the more traditional well known Ashoka chain.  Both serve delicious, high-quality food and definitely fulfil ones appetite.

Now I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression of me – wee kilty is not always out eating and drinking. For an alternative’s night entertainment, I do enjoy a visit to the Grosvenor cinema. This wee gem provides a most comfortable cinema viewing experience – and if you feel like getting cosy with a friend, there is the option to book a sofa rather than your traditional theatre style seats. Although an independent cinema, the Grosvenor has a great programme of up-to date movie releases, and also supports event cinema such as live screenings theatre productions via satellite.

In summary, I think Ashton Lane has plenty to offer and wee Kilty would certainly recommend a visit.

Ashton Lane in Glasgow's West Eng

Ashton Lane

Jinty MgGinty's in Ashton Lane

Jinty McGuintys

The Grosvenor Cinema, Ashton Lane

Grosvenor Cinema

Hidden Gems of Glasgow – The Britannia Panopticon

Hidden Gems of Glasgow – Britannia Panopticon Music Hall

Who knew that the world’s oldest surviving music hall could be found in central Glasgow? Despite being really old (1857) this hidden gem isn’t hugely well known locally, but following various renovation projects, wee Kilty here reckons it’s an up and coming venue.

Although some may think of me as a wee wideo (a local term for a smart aleck/wise guy), I’m just interested in my town’s history, and something that is the oldest on the planet is worthy of a bit of research. Back in the 1850s this place was filled with around 1500 of Glasgow’s workers for each of its four daily performances, all of whom were expecting to be entertained and for many, they were most likely hoping to be completely distracted from the harsh reality of their life of poverty.

Initially the entertainment included the extremely popular dancing girls, as well as various singers – and it had a bit of a reputation for attracting the local women of the night, who apparently did a roaring trade. Under new management, the more sensual acts were toned down and performances became less cabaret and more circus like with acrobats, trapeze artists and animal acts. The music hall kept up with the times, and it was one of the first 300 buildings to have electricity in 1896, allowing for the introduction of animated pictures.

As the years passed, other venues became the new place to go in town, and so the music hall went through another reinvention – carnival games were introduced along with wax works and freak show, and then the basement was turned into a zoo. It was at this point that the Britannia Music hall became the Grand Panopticon – panopticon meaning to see everything.

Sadly, as times changed and new forms of entertainment started vying for peoples’ attention, the Panopticon could no longer afford to operate and was sold to a firm of tailors in 1938. Although a number of changes were made internally, the balcony was left untouched and these days there is a team of volunteers who are working to restore the building to its former glory.

The Panopticon is now operating as a functional venue; it’s open most afternoons for a wee wander about, and there are an increasing amount of events scheduled such as film screenings, cabaret shows and theatrical performances. It’s certainly an interesting place, typically with an interesting audience and my top tip would be to dress warmly if you are going to watch a show – there’s no heating and only a limited supply of blankets!

The Britannia Pantopticon exterior

Britannia Pantopticon Exterior

The interior of the Britannia Pantopticon

Interior view

Advertising an event at the Britannia Pantopticon

Events