Last weekend was the last UK public holiday for a couple of months, so pretty early on we decided that by ‘hook or by crook’ we were going away. So when we heard that we were due for one day of sun, two days of heavy rain and cold conditions, our answer was a predictable “we’ll wear warm clothes.”
In the end it was the right decision, as we had a great time.
On Friday night after work we headed down the A19 for about an hour and a half and fairly smoothly found our pre-booked camping ground. At this point I’ll say a little about our new car, a very zippy little Toyota Corolla. It’s a 1.3 litre 1998 model and is great to drive, and more importantly, pretty fuel efficient. It’s only drawback is that flying down the motorway at 80 mph (almost 130 kph, so only briefly) it’s little motor starts to rev pretty high. On a side note on that one, since speed cameras are few, and they’re all clearly marked, speeds on the motorways are much higher than at home. But having said that, the roads are a lot safer.
So we got to the camping ground at about 8:30 so were left with just enough time to pitch our tent (below) and get set up for sleep.
Saturday was a big day for us, since it was the only day which was forecast to be fine. So we got up nice and early and set out to find a bus into York. I had determined that there was a good Park and Ride system in York, but since I didn’t exactly know where the station was, we decided to try conventional buses on the first day. Big mistake.
We just missed a bus which we weren’t sure we could catch. After quite a bit of walking around (and almost half an hour) we did end up catching it. It cost us over Â£8 for the return trip, which was a lot when we could have got a return at the Park and Ride for Â£4. To make it worse, at the end of the day, we couldn’t find where the bus went from and spent over two hours between finding the stop and then waiting for the bus. So the next two days we used the Park and Ride and caught buses within three or four minutes at the most.
Anyway, when we eventually got into York we didn’t really have a specific plan of what we were going to do. However we pretty quickly worked out that the Shambles were pretty close and we had planned to buy bread from a famous baker there and cheese from the nearby market.
This worked out pretty successfully. We also enjoyed a lovely coffee from a cafe/diner/trailer thing and enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere of the market.
From there we walked past the York Minster and took the photo that appears later (photos are not always chronological as even the photo above has the gray skies of Sunday or Monday) and carried on to Bootham Bar where we started our walk of the York Walls.
The walls were great, in beautiful condition and gave you a good sense of direction as to where everything is. There were also glimpses of Roman era ruins, nice vistas of the Minster and various other tidbits.
One of the great things about York is how everything is so close together (although it didn’t seem like that when we were trying to find our bus stop). We got to the end of the wall at Peasholme Green (map) and pretty much walked right across the town centre to get to the Museum Gardens where we had lunch, but it only took us fifteen minutes.
The Museum Gardens were lovely (it probably helped that it was a nice day) and also featured the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, which looked remarkably similar to Tynemouth Priory (next to us). This is not overly surprising given that they suffered the same fate, being dissolved by King Henry VIII who then used materials from them for other buildings.
After lunch we crossed the river and walked another length of the wall before returning to the centre of town and going through the Treasurer’s House. This was pretty interesting, but the only reason we went was because we are National Trust members and could get in for free.
During the night it began to rain, and we woke up to a pretty wet Sunday. Regardless, we ventured off into town and after giving up on the concept of queuing in the rain at Jorvik, went to the Railway Museum. This has the benefit of being free, and is an outstanding way to spend your time if you’ve even got a passing interest in trains. We spent a couple of hours there, but easily could have spent longer. Below you see the fastest ever steam train, known as the Mallard.
We left the Railway Museum early as we wanted to make sure that following an excellent fish and chip lunch, we would have as much time as we needed at Jorvik (seeing as we were paying for the privilege).
In the end however, we didn’t really need the time.Â It was good, and we were glad we did it, but wouldn’t call it a ‘must-do’.Â We finished that before 4pm and decided to head back to our tent and relax.Â That was very nice, as sometimes you get home needing a holiday from your holiday.
So Monday dawned and we only had one thing left on our list, York Minster.Â This is the single greatest ‘must-do’ of York.Â I think they said it was the second largest cathedral in the Europe.
We got into a tour, which I can highly recommend.Â The lady was extremely detailed and fortunately we had no limitations on time, so the hour and a half tour had no effect on our itinerary.Â The photo below is of the Heart of Yorkshire, a window on the West end of the Minster.Â The photo below that is of the roof of the chapter house, a marvel of architecture.
When you buy your tickets at the Minster you have four options.Â Just the cathedral, the cathedral and the cript, the cathedral and the tower or all of it.Â We had received a tip that the tower was of less interest than the cript, so we decided to give the tower a miss.Â We were so glad however that we went into the cript.
You get a brilliant audio guide, and if you’ve got the time, it’s fascinating to go through and take it all in.Â Most fascinating for me was the fact that the Roman fort which was built on the same location and has been excavated was the likely location where Constantine was made Emperor.Â This was amazingly significant for the Christian faith as he legitimised it, and indeed for other faiths as he made freedom of religion available within the Roman world for the first time.
So that concluded our trip to York.Â It was a great weekend, despite the weather and I cannot recommend York enough.Â It’s a great city and must surely be on the itinerary of every tourist who gets remotely this close to the North East.