Everyone's seen those postcards with multiple pictures of a Scottish sheep in the rain, right? A cartoon sheep standing in the middle of a storm, sometimes accompanied by an umbrella, under the caption 'Seasons of Scotland - Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter'. It's funny because it's true, but it's also not funny living it out every day. Every now and then, though, the clouds part and it's glorious. And on those those glorious days, you're best dropping everything and heading to the coast. With many seaside towns less than an hour from Glasgow by train, there should be time to catch a few rays (and the obligatory fish supper) before the rain returns.
Historically a popular destination with day trippers during Glasgow Fair fortnight, Ayr beach continues to be a place that locals and tourists alike flock to when the sun comes out. Walk the Lang Scots Mile along the promenade, kick a football around the Low Green or head out to Alloway and Burns country. For those interested in such things, the town is also teeming with interesting architecture, from the 1930s Art Deco style Odeon cinema at one end to the Renaissance style town hall at the other.
Another classic seaside retreat and home of the famous Nardini's ice cream parlour. Most visitors to Largs surely go there with one goal in mind - to gorge themselves on this delicious dessert. For the odd few who don't spend the afternoon working their way through the flavours, the amusement arcade along the road offers the chance to relive the days of pushing 2ps into slots in the hope of winning... more 2ps. If that doesn't sound exciting enough, hop on the ferry to Great Cumbrae and discover...
Less than ten minutes on the ferry, followed by a few more on a bus, and you're in Millport. The only town on Great Cumbrae, Millport is the perfect little place to visit on a sunny day. If paddling in the sea sounds like a task for only the hardiest Scots, the best alternative is to hire a bicycle from one of the many rental companies and explore the island. The ten-mile circular route is perfect for all abilities (the mostly flat road and lack of heavy traffic being the biggest plus points) but that pint at the end of the trip still feels well deserved.
Glaswegian bargain hunters will love the charity shop-lined streets of Helensburgh. To make life even better, many sit directly opposite the seafront, giving the perfect view in between purchases. For the energetic, Mackintosh's Hill House sits at the top of a hill (the name gives it away slightly, doesn't it?) among beautiful grounds looked after by the National Trust for Scotland. After all that activity, head back to town and try one of the many cafés, restaurants and ice cream shops on offer - after all, no trip to the coast is complete without a full stomach on the way home.
Don't forget to send a postcard home!
Prefer to stay here instead? Here's nine essential things to do in Glasgow this summer.