With Trainspotting 2 set to hit theaters on February 3, a focus once again falls not only on former heroin addict, Mark “Rent” Renton, 20 years later as he reconnects with his former comrades in addiction, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie, but also the Scottish backdrop of Edinburgh and Glasgow, which proved to be as vitally important to the film as the subject matter.
Although the drug usage is what people will probably remember most about the film, several prominent locales are present in the original that speak to Scotland’s scenic beauty, pub traditions and overall vibe, making it a unique tourist spot for people all over the world.
Should you ever find yourself in Scotland, here are most of the prominent locations from Trainspotting.
One of the enduring visuals from the original film is the opening running scene where Ewan McGregor’s character Mark Renton delivers his iconic “choose life” monologue, which has since been updated to reflect new world addictions in the sequel.
This whole chase takes place on Princes Street – one of the main cultural and shopping hubs in all of Edinburgh.
Princes Street is home to huge flagship stores such as Debenhams, House of Frasers, HM, Zara, Primark, MS and the historic Jenners – as well as dedicated sneaker stores like Office and VANS.
For those wanting a bit of culture between swipes of your credit card, two of the main Scottish art galleries, the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland, are located at the foot of The Mound — an artificial hill in central Edinburgh which connects Edinburgh’s New Town and Old Town — and are served by Princes Street tram stop.
In the aftermath of the aforementioned chase, Mark finds himself on Calton Road underneath the semicircular Regent Bridge. The structure was designed by Archibald Elliot in 1814 to create an entrance to Edinburgh where London Road entered the New Town and solved the problem of entering the city through narrow and inconvenient medieval streets. Aesthetically, it is framed by engaged Corinthian columns — flanking right and left — with central blind niche, recessed panel above.
Firhill Health Complex
As we get introduced to other characters besides Mark — like Spud, Sick Boy and Tommy — the guys take part in a five-a-side football match at the Firhill Health Complex.
The team they are playing against is called the Calton Athletic Recovery Group. These men served as the main consultants for how the actors should best embody the spirit and motivations of junkies and addicts.
According to VICE, “Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor, and Johnny Lee Miller used to come to our meetings and sit in the back as part of their research,” says Colin Nelson, whose claim to fame is that he booted a football into McGregor’s face in the opening five-a-side scene. “They’d listen to what the life of a drug addict was like, the places it would take you.”
Rouken Glen Park
In the film, Mark and Sickboy use an air-rifle to shoot a skinhead’s dog. This scene takes place at Rouken Glen Park in Glasgow.
Comprised of 143 acres, it is the largest public park in East Renfrewshire. The area features woodland paths, dramatic waterfalls, rolling parkland, pond and a picturesque walled garden. It is also one of the most important geological sites in Scotland and part of the glen is designated a site of special scientific interest because it contains the only surviving exposures of fossil-rich orchard beds in the Glasgow basin, which are around 325 million years old.
Café d’ Jaconelli is where Renton and Spud share a romantic milkshake and some speed before the latter attends a hilariously awful interview.
The restaurant oozes 1950s nostalgia — complete with leather booths and original jukebox cranking out period-correct tunes. Fort those wanting to eat, the café is both known for its award-winning artisan ice cream — made the same way since 1924 — with raspberry sauce topping, as well as their popular big breakfast which features sausage, two slices of bacon, two scones, black pudding, a fried egg, tomatoes, beans and a slice of toast.
Situated at Queen’s Cross, the cafe is just a minute away from Queen’s Cross Church, one of Charles Rennie Macintosh’s most renowned designs.
The Crosslands pub where Begbie recalls his rather unfunny pool incident, only to throw his glass away and start a full-on bar brawl, is another prominent Glasgow backdrop.
However, it has undergone a massive transformation since filming took place. What was once a watering hole for workmen and students from the nearby Maryhill halls of residences has been renovated into a “hipster” locale with a German theme and new business name: “So, What Comes Next?”
Frank McNeill, who has been a regular at the pub for the past 15 years, said of the changes, “I’ve been going to this place for about 15 years, possibly more, and it’s totally different to what it used to be. It’s cheap and tacky and horrible to tell you the truth. But is also somehow better than it used to be. It used to be a slope with six or seven cheap, scabby wee tables outside. But inside it’s like the same team wearing different colors. It’s outside where the big changes have been. It’s the same people going in during the day but at night there’s more hipsters than there used to be and at the weekend there’s loads of families and dogs. I think Begbie would come in and wreck the place. He’d come in and have a drink and then nut somebody out.”
Corrour Railway Station
Where: Rannoch Moor
The train stop between Rannoch and Tulloch stations on the Glasgow-Fort William line is 17 miles away from the nearest public road — the only railway station which can’t be reached by car — and served as the location where the main characters arrive in the great outdoors, only for Renton to deliver his “I hate being Scottish” speech.
The station houses a small restaurant and hotel for marooned travelers, as in the past the only overnight accommodation was at the youth hostel on the shores of Loch Ossian.
For those unafraid to head off into the expanse, there’s a horseshoe walk to the Road to the Isles which leads back out to Loch Rannoch, and a selection of other Munros – a mountain in Scotland with a height of more than 3,000 feet – and smaller hills around Loch Treig.
Situated at the top of the city’s Buchanan Street, the George Hotel kept its doors open for 162 years of business, offering accommodation to varied clientele — most, if not all, of whom were very well off.
However, by the late 1970s they were being rented or given away to the homeless and unemployed. By the 1990s, the building’s once regal image and facade, which had since faded, served as the perfect location for the drug dealing scene in Trainspotting and doubled for what was supposed to be a London-based location.