Club 50 review by Dougie Baird

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

I’ve travelled on some wonderful train journeys, across Canada and USA, journeys throughout Europe and even in China. But there’s something special about travelling in your own country.

My mother used to take me to Glasgow Central Station to watch the steam trains arrive and leave. The platform filled with smoke and the conductor shouted ‘all aboard that`s going aboard!’. Great memories.

When ScotRail got in touch to ask me to review their Club 50 membership for travellers over 50 years of age, I was delighted. Ok…you might not think I’m over 50 but I am! With just my email address, bank details and a passport photo I was signed up in no time. My card arrived in under a week.

ScotRail’s Club 50 membership holders can enjoy a number of exclusive offers, including 20% off Advance and Off-Peak tickets anywhere in Scotland when you buy online. If you’re travelling regularly you can make huge savings! You can also get access to exclusive offers on concerts, attractions and events across Scotland. Fantastic value with some great days out to be had.

Dougie's picture of Edinburgh Castle

As part of my trip I was asked to review the Glasgow to Edinburgh Advanced Fare and take part in a couple of the exclusive Club 50 offers. In preparation before our trip to the capital, I visited the ScotRail website to see what deals were available with my Club 50 card.

I was spoilt for choice! After spending some time browsing the offers I decided to take high tea at the Roxburghe Hotel (20% off) and a walking tour with Merkat Tours (10% off). I was accompanied by my wife Mrs B, who was more than happy to join me on my Club 50 adventure.

I have to say, the ScotRail website is really easy to use with lots of useful information in just a few clicks. The font is clear with big buttons directing you where to find all the information you need and a handy ‘how to’ video.

The day arrived and we kicked off our Club 50 adventure by leaving Glasgow Queen Street at 9.30am in the morning, with the train journey taking around 50 minutes to reach Edinburgh Waverley Station. The journey was easy and the train very comfortable as we enjoyed our complimentary Club 50 cake and juice from the First Class tray.

Mrs B enjoys afternoon tea at the Roxburghe Hotel

We had the pleasure of sitting next to two American tourists. They were staying in Glasgow with relatives and decided to travel through to the capital. We gave them ideas of what to do and see, explaining what a wonderful city Edinburgh is (…almost as good as Glasgow!). They laughed and said it’s a bit like Washington DC and their hometown of New York. We arrived bang on time, said our goodbyes and walked up to Princess Street. The sound of the bagpipes and the view of the castle made us feel like tourists!

The clock hit two minutes past twelve and we were peckish, time for our first Club 50 offer of the day – Afternoon tea at the beautiful Roxburghe Hotel!

Set in the historic Charlotte Square (part of the New Town) the 4-star Roxburghe Hotel is ideally located just a two-minute walk from Princes Street.

With the inside just as stunning as the outside, we made our way into the welcoming Samovar Lounge tea room. My goodness the cakes were delicious! The sandwiches and other goodies were tasty but the cakes were to die for, highly recommended if you’re ever in the Capital. Our Club 50 membership got us a 20% discount on our afternoon tea.

Liz the tour guide from Mercat Tours tells the crowd stories of the Royal Mile's history

After our hour of indulgence, it was time to burn off the calories. We walked up to the Old Town to take part in our next Club 50 offer – a Mercat walking tour showing us the secrets of the Royal Mile.

I have previously taken a ghost tour with Mercat, but this one was to learn more about the history of Edinburgh. Our guide Liz was a very knowledgeable lady and told us stories you wouldn`t find in the history books.

My favourite tale was about Victorian days when the poorer homes had no toilets and used a chamber pot. The rule was you could only throw out the contents after seven at night. Liz screamed ‘GARDYLOO!’ (a saying to warn people below) and some of my fellow tourists jumped out of their skins! We also heard about Mary Queen of Scots, Robert Burns and many more famous Scots. We learned so much on the tour and it was a great way to wander off an afternoon. Thanks to Liz and Mercat for a great tour and with our Club 50 membership we got 10% off the price of our tickets.

After a jam-packed day we meandered back to Edinburgh Waverley Station to catch the train back to Glasgow. Mrs B and I thoroughly enjoyed our special Club 50 day out and can’t wait make the most of our membership perks.

Dougie Baird

Dougie Baird is a Scottish travel blogger based in Glasgow.

Find out more about Club 50