The train to Glasgow

Heading for the 13.15 train to Glasgow last Saturday. We were taking our son and belongings back to university, and to free up room in the car my daughter and I elected to take the train and meet the men there. Very noble of us. It also gave us a shopping interlude together in Glasgow before taking the underground to student flat land in the West End.

Here is the train to Glasgow.

I hope Scottish readers will recognise this as the first line of Wilma Horsburgh's poem of the same name. I didn't see the driver, and thought the embarrassment factor for my daughter would be too great if I asked the guard if I could take a photo of him. So I can't really say:

"Here is the driver,
Mr. MacIver,
Who drove the train to Glasgow.

Here is the guard from Donibristle
Who waved his flag and blew his whistle
To tell the driver,
Mr. MacIver,
To start the train to Glasgow."

It's a great poem for chanting with children, who even if they can't remember the whole thing, always come in triumphantly with '...the train to Glasgow' at the end of each verse. The poem has a cage of escaped hens on the train saved by the actions of a wee boy, Donald.

"Now Donald was quick and Donald was neat
And Donald was nimble on his feet.
He caught the hens..."

No hens on our train, just a quiet 40 minute journey through the snowy countryside.

Above, Linlithgow, with churches and chimneys and crow-stepped gables.

At some stations the original buildings have survived. Looking at all the chimneys, I was nostalgic for a station waiting room with a glowing coal fire.

Others are of post 1970s bland box style.

But even here there are compensations, when you can glimpse the hills beyond the Firth of Forth.

Even the 'output' from the oil refinery at Grangemouth didn't look too bad.

And finally to an empty Queen Street station. Everyone was in the shops, that's why...


  1. Ok, as a warning, this will sound incredibly dorky and emotional of me.

    After my sophomore (2nd) year of high school my high school band took a trip to Britain (England & Scotland) and France. I was psyched. I had been daydreaming about Britain for two years at that point and to find out we were going?? I was ecstatic.

    Our first city to stay the night in was Edinburgh but we flew in from Washington, DC to Glasgow, Scotland. When we were descending over the city my eyes started getting watery because I felt like I was finally in the place I wanted to be. Glasgow, consequentially, holds a very special place in my heart for being the first British city I stepped foot in.

  2. It sure was EMPTY!! Amazing! We took the train from Aberdeen to Inverness last year....I LOVE the Scottish trains and the beautiful sounds of the names of the villages/towns on the way. Love the Scottish 'speak'!!!

    As always, I SO enjoy your posts and photos....

  3. Wonderful account of the journey on the train! I still love taking the train between Toronto and Montreal, despite having done it so many times now. Not just 40 minutes here though, the train ride between Montreal and Toronto (Canada's two biggest cities) takes at least four and a half hours and that's on the express!!!

  4. What a wonderful tour! Thanks Linda.

  5. It has been a long time since I rode a train. Thank you for taking us on your train ride.

  6. I would dearly love to take that train ride.

  7. The first photo is brilliant. I can understand why you didn't dare ask to take a photo of the driver but it would have mad a great shot, maybe another time. Your snow shots from the train window are good, the windows must have been cleaned recently.

  8. Train stations are awesome. Especially the older ones that have been around awhile. I sometimes think that this country (USA) took a wrong turn when we went with the car over the train. I love going to other countries, getting on the train and just relaxing until I get where I'm going. I'd so totally trade in my car for decent public transport any day.

  9. oh Linda, i love trains. when we do get a chance to come to Scotland, i have a delicious sense of excitement if there is a chance to take a train. fantastic pictures. thank you.

  10. thanks for the tour , snow never melt in Scotland ;)

  11. More Glasgow pics coming up I hope?

  12. Wish I could have taken the train to Glasgow along with you but it was fun pretending to be there. Great photos.
    Ah, you should have asked guard for a picture! Your daughter would have gotten over her embarrassment. :-)

  13. Thanks for taking us on this journey. Our family loves taking the train as well, but this is an unfamiliar journey to me. There are some beautiful train stations in Scotland. And - yes I was singing right along as soon as I saw the title of your post. I didn't know the name of the poet, I only knew it as a Singing Kettle song!

  14. Absolutely love the trains and train stations in Scotland and Norhern England.

    But in 20 years I have NEVER seen the Queen Street Station empty! Wow!

  15. Alli, I love your emotional story!

    Linda & Journeys to Scotland, you'll have to come back and take more Scottish train journeys. And Linda (PA shutterbug) and Mountain Mama, you'll have to make that first visit.

    Karine, in four and a half hours you could get through a fair bit of Scotland - tho not all, because some of the lines are very slow.

    Chris, the windows were unusually clean!

    Vickie, the nearest I've been to a train in America is the outside of the main station in LA.

    Babzy, the snow has at last melted.

    Svenske Floyd, yes, more Glasgow photos in due course.

    Happyone, you're right, the embarrassment would have passed.

    Christine - I remember those Singing Kettle days too. We even went to see them at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh.

    Paula, it was eerily quiet at the station that day.

  16. I have taken this trip once, and it was really nice to be able to re-live it with your text and photos. :) Also nice to see the winter-side of Scotland, as I've only been there during spring/summer.

  17. How I wish we had more trains here in the U.S. I've taken the Downeaster from New Hampshire up to Portland, Maine, and it was wonderful--scenic and relaxing and so much better for the environment that more cars on the road.

    My son, living in New York City, manages quite well with no car at all. Actually, a car would be a hindrance and a huge expense there in the city. It seems to me that people are a lot healthier there, walking to and from the train/subway stations.

    Here in New Mexico, we have the Roadrunner passenger that travels between Albuquerque and Santa Fe but, alas, service hasn't been extended south to Las Cruces yet. It's a shame that mass transit isn't more available and I wish my country could follow your country's example.

  18. Wonderful photo series. The second one down, with the shiny platform, zooming perspective, and soft evening sky, is my favorite.

  19. Nice photo series. Thank you for visiting my blog

  20. When the Occhills and surrounding areas had snow. I am hoping that when the weather changes and gets warmer, we will visit Linlithgow.

  21. We used to read this verse as a family, many years ago - thanks for the memory


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