Sunday, 20 January 2008

helensburgh day out

Yesterday TOH and I took a wee trip to Helensburgh.

Helensburgh is a coastal town on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde. It is about 28 miles North West of Glasgow.

We decided to take the train from where I live. For a day out it is just perfect, tickets start from £4.70 to £6.00 for same day return, and it is less than an hour away!

I was excited as I’ve heard quite a bit about the place and there was even a short write up on it in Lonely Planet: Scotland guide book.

Unlike on a Sunday, there is no direct train from Anniesland to Helensburgh, so we had to change at one of the stations along the way. There were three stations to choose from and thank goodness we chose to change at Dumbarton Central.

Dumbarton Central station is not a big bustling station. Just like any commuting station, it is quiet but the size of the platforms/station is rather big. It has four platforms. We liked Dumbarton Central station because it is a very beautiful Victorian train station. Unfortunately, like a large number of beautiful station, it needs a lick of paint and some attention as well as possible maximised use of the station.

Nonetheless we took in the beauty of the station as well as the surroundings.

Just opposite the station, there is a very Victorian Goth-like building. TOH said it could be a school and I thought it could be a small infirmary. We’ll need to go back to Dumbarton again to have a nosey around the place.

It wasn’t long we hopped on the next train and continued our way to Helensburgh.

The train station in Helensburgh, Helensburgh Central station was a nice station as well. Being the last station on the line, it was interesting to see a sign at the ticketing window reads ‘trains leave from this station and 10 and 40 minutes pass the hour’, very practical. Imagine the hoards of people going up the station to ask what time is the next train.

I only suggested going to Helensburgh because I knew the weather was going to be good that day.

Stepping out of the station, I can’t help noticing the few banks on the same street. Personally, if a town can have a few banks that is more than the typical RBS and Bank of Scotland, you know there is more to the town.

Anyways, we continued to look around this seaside resort.

It is a nice, small town. You know it is a tourist town when you see a good number of cafés and souvenir/specialty shops. The buildings here are beautiful as well. Being away from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow, the traffic here is not as busy but you can still get the convenience of Tesco Extra, Co-op and my favourite, the small shops: butcher, fish monger, deli, etc.

One thing I noticed is the amount of eateries this place has. Never short of a choice for food. Yummy!!!

Before long, we move on to the seafront esplanade. It wasn’t the brightest of day, but it was nice. It was rather windy. We saw some ducks (there was a variety of them) in around the shoreline, waddling in the water with the gulls as well. There was a very happy dog frolicking in the water and after that running about the pier area. We wondered where its owner was.

We walked to the end of the pier to enjoy the breeze (or almost gale like strong wind) and walked to the edge of the pier to see how far we can go. It is rather interesting from safety point of view that there isn’t a railing around the pier.

By that time, our tummies were rumbling, so we headed off to find food. Knowing that I was going to the seaside, I knew I had in mind either fish and chips or scampi and chips. Hmmm...

We found a café not far from the pier; sadly I can’t remember the name of the place. The décor of the place was a bit dated but we were so impressed that the waiter came with a handheld machine to take our order!

Both of us ordered the scampi and chips, and a portion of onion rings to share. I had a chocolate milkshake, which I think was a bit diluted compared to TOH’s strawberry milkshake.

The food was really good and I would definitely recommend the place and visit there again! The café also has a takeaway, which is located next to it.

After our meal, we continued browsing the shops. I would say the town has a good number of shops. I said to TOH that I can imagine living in this town. Although, I don’t deny that the place seemed to be a little small and one might get bored after a while, unless they retire here. On practicality, Helensburgh is possibly a commuting town, low possibility but not totally cancelling out. It is about 45 minutes into town on the train.

Sadly the pics don’t really do much justice to the place. It is a really nice place!

The only thing that we didn’t like about Helensburgh was the amount of rubbish. The stretch of journey before arriving Helensburgh Central was littered with rubbish but it was nice to see some sheep walking in a line. Then again the waterline along the beach in Helensburgh was littered with rubbish as well. The rubbish has probably travelled from Glasgow city itself, who knows?

It would be quite interesting to see if the place will be cleaned up for the summer. Otherwise, it would be a pity.

Even with the flaws, Helensburgh is definitely a good place for a day out or weekend, since it is not far from Glasgow and we look forward to going there again during the summer or even before that.

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