When you think Glasgow, you don’t think ‘subway’, but Glasgow has the third oldest subway after London and Budapest. It’s not huge, but the subway’s 10km circuit is great for getting around the West End. Style hunters can easily lose hours rooting around Saratoga Trunk – it’s a huge space containing thousands of treasures dating from Victorian times to the 1990s. After a shopping frenzy, head to Asia Style on St George’s Road for the most authentic Chinese and Malaysian food in Scotland. Glasgow is the perfect place to learn about Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the city’s most famous artist and designer. He was a proponent of Art Nouveau – head to the Glasgow School of Art and take the Mackintosh at the GSA tour for the low-down on the great man’s work. If you fancy something different, take a voyage up the Firth of Clyde on the Waverley, the world’s last remaining sea-going paddle steamer – it featured in the film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Not left-field enough? How about Glaswegians in stetsons line dancing? The Grand Ole Opry in Govan regularly holds gunslinging contests, ceremonial folding of the Confederate flag and music and dancing. Fans of the TV series Nashville will love it.
The Ouseburn Valley area of the city is just a 15-minute walk from the station. It’s an area of gentrification and creativity and one that’s well worth exploring. The Star and Shadow is a wonderful indie cinema, with regular events and a roster of interesting screenings from Polish and Turkish films to 70s American classics. Northern Print’s gallery and studio is great for exhibitions and quirky prints from local artists. For the more adventurous, there’s Stepney Bank Stables where you can try a spot of horse riding. Lunch options are varied and there’s a huge range of bars and pubs in the area, including the highly regarded The Tyne Bar, The Free Trade Inn, and The Cluny.
Barley Hall was going to be destroyed. It was only in the 80s when the true beauty of this medieval house was revealed beneath the facade of a modernised office block. The Mayor of York used to live here and today you can visit and experience a slice of medieval life. The ever-popular Ghost Walk Experience takes in a number of beautiful York locations, including Monk Bar gate house where the heads and body parts of Catholics were stuck on spikes. The Walmgate Ale House and Bistro is a favourite for a late breakfast/brunch – they serve till 12.30pm – the scrambled eggs and Whitby salmon is a delight. Alternatively, if you’re looking for York’s best pork pie, The Hairy Fig lays claim to that honour. They’re delivered from nearby Bubwith daily and are offered alongside locally baked breads and locally brewed ciders.
If you can resist the multitude of quality fish and chips merchants in the town, you might try the Toast restaurant as an alternative. They offer a contemporary selection and the Lancashire Rarebit is delicious.
The iconic 1930s trams running up and down the promenade are brilliant for hopping between piers. Madame Tussauds Blackpool, near the Central Pier, is probably Blackpool’s most famous attraction – well worth a visit to stand back to back with Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. For a surprising escape from the razzle-dazzle of the seafront, stroll a mile inland to Stanley Park. It offers a superb blend of architecture, horticulture and recreation – not what might spring to mind about Blackpool! For something really memorable, head to the Pasaje Del Terror. It’s a terrifying and hilarious walk-through horror experience – the decor and acting troupe transport you to a world of scares, shivers and ghouls.
With a name like Rare And Racy, you might not know what to expect, but this fabulous book and music store is a perfect place to lose yourself for hours. There are more books on offer at The Rude Shipyard – it’s perfect for lazy breakfasting, and in the evenings there are poetry readings and open mic nights. To find out the roots of the term ‘steel city’, head to Kelham Island Museum – you’ll find a pen knife with 2000 blades and it’s right next to The Fat Cat pub, one of the best in the city. If you’re feeling the retail urge, try The Moor Market – its 196 stalls have it all, from locally sourced organic produce, to locally designed jewellery, shoes and clothes. In Sheffield Antiques Quarter, you’ll find a smashing section of retro furniture and objects, plus you can sort your quiff out at the vintage hair salon.