This is the next instalment of our trip report as my son and I travel around the UK. Our first report, of our stay in Cambridge, can be found here, for anyone who would like to travel with us! I hope the link works - it's my first attempt.
After a restful night, we set off last Tuesday morning for our next destination, York. I must have been getting a little over confident, after boasting about "no wrong turns" on the LHR- Cambridge leg, or I tempted fate! In any event, I failed to listen carefully to our Sat Nav friend, "Karen" and took the wrong exit on a roundabout. This resulted in our second, unintended trip to Duxford in as many days. D'oh! Karen stayed beautifully calm as she worked around my disobedience, and after our false start, it wasn't long until we were heading in the right direction for York.
We were again blessed with lovely weather as we left Cambridge. Along the way, it started to cloud over, but remained dry. I had toyed with the idea of a detour to Stamford, as it had been recommended on TA but I knew we needed to keep going to see all that we had planned in York. I caught a glimpse as we sped by, and it does indeed look to be a gorgeous town. Our loss, I'm sure.
When planning our route around the UK back in January, little did we know that we had managed a trifecta in choosing our dates to be in York: school holidays, a horse racing carnival and an approaching Bank Holiday! Well done, us! The result is a very busy city centre abuzz with a mix of visitors: ladies with feathered fascinators and very high heels; men in suits; families with school children visiting all the sights and local people trying to work around all of us. It makes for a vibrant atmosphere. Luckily for us, it hasn't made access to the places we had intended to visit any more difficult - we've not had to queue anywhere along the way.
We had booked a twin room at The Groves and, again, have been very pleased with our choice. We have a room which doubles as a disabled suite, which means a nice large accessible bathroom, no stairs and a good sized bedroom. Very comfortable. The car parking and free wifi were major considerations when selecting a place to stay, and they are certainly making life easy. Our room is also very quiet, thanks to considerate fellow guests.
After checking in just after 1:00 pm, we quickly set off on foot to the old city centre, an easy and level walk of about 10 minutes. We entered through Petergate. It is just amazing to see sections of the original city walls and gates appear amid a row of shops. Our plan was to see York Minster, The Shambles and York Castle Museum on our first afternoon, and we did all three without racing or feeling rushed. Despite the crowds, we got to enjoy the sights and spend the amount of time we wished at each place. The Minster is as impressive as expected. I like it best when we wander through the city after dinner. It's still light but most of the people have gone and you can stand and admire it from all its angles. I think that between 6:00 and 8:00 pm, the city looks its best; I've enjoyed it most and can feel the history better when the city takes a breath between the day's hustle and bustle and the emergence of the night's party-goers.
York Castle Museum was excellent. We had particularly wanted to see the recreated Victorian street, and it didn't disappoint. My son was transported in time and just loved it. Well done to the team who designed this part of museum - a first class experience.
Dinner on the first night was at The Old White Swan on Goodramgate. It was my son's pick and we really enjoyed it. Visiting English pubs was one of the things my son was most looking forward to on this trip. There is certainly no shortage of choices in York!
Our first full day was divided between the National Railway Museum and Eden Camp at Malton. When planning the York part of our holiday, I sought the advice of TA on how to fit in all that we wanted to see. It seemed that Eden Camp would be a casualty of too much to do in too little time, but in the end, we managed a visit without being rushed at all. We spent just over three hours at the magnificent Railway Museum, and loved it all. My son has a major love of trains and was thrilled to sit in the driver's seat of Mallard, about which he knew so much. I loved the display of the Royal Carriages - again, beautifully presented and displayed.
After we had explored it all, it was just after 1:00 pm so we set off for Eden Camp. An entirely different kind of museum experience, but special in its own way. We were really ticking all the boxes in terms of high interest for my son! Seventh heaven - trains and WW2 all on the one day ;-)
After a couple of hours here, we were getting weary, so headed back to York to put our feet up and digest all that we had seen. In the early evening, we then ventured just a short walk away from our hotel to The Exhibition, another nice pub, for an early dinner and a stroll back through the old city. We had coffee on the footpath of a quaint cobblestoned street and marvelled at our great good fortune to be in such a beautiful place, having such a wonderful holiday. How lucky we are.
Today was a magical day, too. As a major Heartbeat fan, one of my son's goals for this trip was to visit "Aidensfield", and today we did! We left our hotel at about 9.30 and in just over an hour, we were turning off to Goathland, dodging the gorgeous black-faced sheep that wander across the moors, onto the roads and along the village common. I think the sheep will be one of my lasting magic moments! A lovely and unexpected sight. Tom could hardly wipe the smile from his face as he saw everything in the village, exactly as it appeared on the countless episodes of Heartbeat.
We had a drink at The Goathland Hotel, bought postcards from Scripp's Garage, visited the village shops and then - drum roll, please - caught a steam train from the picturesque railway station to Whitby and then back again. No wonder Yorkshire people are so justly proud of their countryside - the moors are special, indeed. After we had seen and done all that we could in this dear little village, we drove happily away having made some very special memories.
On our return trip to York, we made an attempt to visit Pickering Railway Station, but it was crazy-busy, so we settled for a quick circuit of the town before retracing our steps back to York. Tom liked the venison sausages, mash and onion rings so much the first time at The Old White Swan, that he wanted a return visit this evening. We sat in a different section of this surprisingly large pub and felt like "regulars". A final evening stroll through the city capped off a fabulous day.
I am delighted to say we did everything we hoped to do during our time in York. Thank you to all the people who helped with our planning and provided good advice along the way. It has been a very special 2.5 days/3 nights. I know we 've only scratched the surface, but by goodness, we've had fun :-)!
Tomorrow, it's the big drive to Edinburgh and the Tattoo in the evening. We'll let you know how Stage 3 goes.