Cowcaddens Station – Sauchiehall Street and the Glasgow School of Art

When it comes to the centre of town, the main Subway hubs of Buchanan Street and St. Enoch dominate. However, Cowcaddens provides a very useful alternative, especially if you are trying to get to Sauchiehall Street. It is important to note that the centre of Glasgow is far from flat. Sure, George Square is as flat as a boating lake but many people forget that Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street exist on an incline. Cowcaddens has the big advantage of being at the top (or at least quite a fair way up) Sauchiehall Street. This means that if uphill walking is not your thing, it is very often better to get off at Cowcaddens and walk down, rather than get off at Buchanan Street and walk up.

Cowcaddens Outer Circle
Cowcaddens Outer Circle

With this in mind, Cowcaddens provides the best access to the majority of Sauchiehall Street and many of the main shopping areas. There is a large Marks & Spencer, Littlewoods, TK Maxx and Primark all within easy walking distance of the subway. For a more authentic Glaswegian shopping experience, the Savoy Centre offers a more down to earth retail environment. Just don’t expect to find any designer brands (at least real ones anyway!).

The view into the abyss
The view into the abyss

Additionally, Cowcaddens is the main station for the world famous Glasgow School of Art as well as the Glasgow Film Theatre. Both of which are pivotal to Glasgow’s cultural significance. The area of Garnethill and the middle of Sauchiehall Street (past the pedestrian part) are generally considered the heart of the art community in Glasgow with many art galleries, bars, restaurants and other such establishments that are well-tailored for a more bohemian clientele.

Like St. George’s Cross, the station itself is hidden away behind some buildings and not immediately obvious from Sauchiehall Street. The key to finding the station, is to find the bit of Sauchiehall Street where the pedestrian zone ends and then go one street back down the hill. The street is called Cambridge Street and if you follow it down you will eventually notice the subway sign.

Mirror Mirror - The fairest one of all? Some interesting physics happening here.
Mirror Mirror – The fairest one of all? Some interesting physics happening here.

To get to Sauchiehall Street from the subway exit, turn right after the barriers and then right again under a large concrete underpass. At the end of the underpass turn left and go up the ramp. This should be Cambridge Street and you should be able to see Sauchiehall Street from the top of the ramp if you turn right. It’s not that obvious at first glance and you could make a very strong case for the need of a few more subway signs.

The Glasgow School of Art is a right turn about half way along the road leading to Sauchiehall Street. The school is an important landmark in Glasgow and was designed by the world famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Many famous faces have graced its halls over the years and it is well worth a visit. Tragically, it recently suffered in a terrible fire that destroyed the original library inside. We send our best wishes.

Further on behind the art school, lies the Glasgow Film Theatre. Special mention must go out to this fine establishment as it acts as the main art house cinema in Glasgow and shows unusual and interesting films from around the globe. There is also an annual international film festival that occurs sometime in February and if you are into your cinema, this is something of a highlight.

Other local highlights in the area include the oldest theatre in Glasgow, the Theatre Royal, which is just down the hill from the station. It is the more prestigious neighbour to the Pavilion Theatre which is one more street down. The Pavilion Theatre is traditionally the working class theatre in Glasgow and can host anything from stand up comedy to hypnotists. On the other hand, the Theatre Royal tends to do the typical West End musicals and anything with a famous face in it. Also in the area is the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, as well as the National Piping Centre, making this area the heartland of all things performance in Glasgow.

To the north of the station lies the M8 motorway and any travel north on foot entails a trip underneath its mighty road. Beyond that lies the areas of Maryhill and Possilpark, as well as the now renovated Speirs Wharf.

For subcrawlers, the nearest bar is Jacksons which is just on the right if you follow the directions to Sauchiehall Street. Although most crawlers do the extra walk down to Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street where the bars become infinitely more trendy and interesting. If this is the last stop on a clockwise circuit though, Jacksons will probably do just fine.

Overall, Cowcaddens is one of the three main city centre stations, albeit the least well known of the trio. It is the primary station if you like your art a bit more highbrow but also acts as the main drop off point for the middle pedestrianised portion of Sauchiehall Street. Not easy to find, but certainly worth doing so. If only to save you the walk up the hill.

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