However one day, a couple of months ago, a late autumnal weekend dawned where I fancied something different from hills. I thought I'd have a culture and history day instead and here it is.
In these uncertain times today however the fact that you can still explore this outstanding building for free is remarkable. They'd charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege in most other cities.
On the other side leading to the opposite wing of the building is a similar but dark staircase composed of red marble with multi coloured veins and golden swirls creeping thought it. When Queen Victoria opened this building in 1888 even she must have been impressed by its scale and quality of workmanship.
If the winds were unfavourable for once ships would lie up here waiting for the right conditions then use this express sailing corridor to reach America and the West Indies up to two weeks faster than their southern neighbours in England.Here they would import Tobacco, Sugar, Rum, Cotton and other goods in exchange for materials these colonies required. They would then resell these imported goods to other cities making substantial profits .An idea of the Importance and power of these merchants can be seen here. Under the later added embellishments of Greek columns, new roof and pediment (the triangular bit at the top of the pillars) lurks the large town mansion of one William Cunninghame, A Tobacco lord. In 1780 It took 10,000 pounds to complete his original building and here it remains, one of the few left standing in the city. Many visitors to the gallery however are unaware as to its original use and purpose. Although most of these great piles have long since passed into history the Mansions that used to stand on the ground and the names of the merchants that lived in them linger on in the streets that eventually grew up around them. Buchanan Street, Ingram Street, Glassford Street, Cochrane Street, and Oswald Street to name but a few are named after the great merchants and houses that originally stood there.Likewise Virginia Street, Jamaica Street, and Tobago Street all tell the tale of the areas they sailed towards to collect their goods.
However, back to the tobacco lords we go as a few other relics of their time remain in the Glasgow of today.
As a cultural self tour guide there is a good merchant city public art trail pamphlet normally available from the visitor information centre in George Square or in the GOMA itself which might have them. With plenty of pictures It gives you a route to follow around the nearby Merchant city and the Italia centre with its troop of rooftop Sculptures looking down.If you have not visited since its regeneration its well worth a stroll around the place.
If that's not enough and you want a longer thrill walk you could always make a full day of it and cut up through the Rottenrow gardens with its giant nappy pin sculpture where many generations of Glaswegians popped out of the maternity hospital that once stood here. I was one of them, squirted out into an empty birthing bin then set free into the big bad world. Proud to be rotten to the core :0) Says so on my birth certificate anyway. This is a good place to have lunch with seats and flowers, surrounded by the unusual and contrasting architecture of the University.
When ready climb up towards the gleaming pin. This end takes you onto level ground and through the campus of the University of Strathclyde. Just Follow the signs for campus village. After passing several more interesting sculptures you come out the other end onto the honeypot cluster of Glasgow Cathedral, The Bishops Palace(Museum of Religion) the Provand's Lordship (oldest house in Glasgow) and the Necropolis Graveyard with great views across the city. Yippee!. Also free!!!! .A long full day of culture as energetic as any hill day. With nightfall approaching I crawled back down the High Street to take a bus home. My only outlay of coin yet so many wonders. Call me mean but in these dark days of recession it doesn't hurt to stem the endless flow of twenty pound notes from your pocket. I could live for a month on one of those in the good old days.Visit Glasgow. Its pure dead magic so it is.