I’ve been all over a lot of England since my first visit at age 16, particularly since my husband took me on a surprise anniversary trip in 2006 and I took my own subsequent recce trips or led tours in 2007, plus 2009-2014. I’ve gone from London into Chawton, Winchester, Bath, Lacock Village, Hereford, the Cotswolds, Manchester, and Derbyshire, plus south through Kent to Rochester. I’ve covered much of the Southwest, the Midlands, and the northwest, but I’d never set foot in the Yorkshire Dales or gone farther north than Manchester…until my trip two weeks ago!
Being introduced to a new city is like being handed a Christmas present. You have no idea what’s inside and whether you’ll like it or just be polite about it and say things like Emma Woodhouse would: “When pressed, I say she’s elegant!” Well, I didn’t have to force politeness after my introduction to York by my friends Suzi and Keith Clarke, who absolutely adore the place and visit each year. My husband’s ancestors come from Skirpenbeck, just outside York, and he had visited several times and told me I would love it. But I had to see it for myself, and I’m delighted I can share it with you!
After flying into London, I hopped into the car with Suzi and Keith for the long drive to York. Just getting out of London took a while (so glad Keith was driving–I don’t know how you can navigate out of that maze!). The scenery didn’t change much for the first couple of hours, but as we crossed into Yorkshire, I spotted the famous hills and dales–and the heather-covered moors made famous by the Brontes. We pulled into our hotel right outside the Monkbar and checked in. Suzi and Keith opted to take it easy after the long drive, but I decided to take myself on a short walking tour to get my bearings right away. I was very eager to see the famous York Minster up close as well.
The day was overcast but not very chilly, so I walked around slowly, savoring each new turn and twist in York’s winding streets. Before I knew it, I was rounding the cathedral through Minster Gate. You can see a bit of scaffolding on the right in the photo above. The tower end of the church is undergoing extensive repair to the stained glass windows and exterior stonework. The stonemason’s yard is right outside and visible to the public, which means you can see them working to reproduce gargoyles and other interesting bits that have worn away over time. I had hoped to step into the cathedral to hear evensong, but the doors were firmly shut, so I just snapped pictures outside.
Like London, York is full of flowers in containers and hanging baskets all over the place. I loved the ones in great abundance all around the cathedral:
Tearing myself away from the Minster, I decided to explore the little side streets, shops, tea rooms and pubs that fill this enchanting place. Naturally, it was near closing time, but I managed to mentally file away several places I wanted to revisit the next day!
I arrived at the largest “Betty’s” location just before closing time and managed to squeeze in for cream tea with only a five-minute wait (the queue is usually out the door and around the corner!). This beautiful art deco place was opened in 1909 and retains all of its original charm. This place is definitely on the itinerary for the 2016 tour!
The steward apologized that the kitchen had run out of scones but offered me “Fat Rascals” instead. Since I’d heard from a friend that I must try them, I gladly took the substitution!
Fortified with tea, I made my way slowly back to the hotel, peeking into shops all along the way. And now that you’ve dipped your pinky toe into the delights of York, you’ll have to come back for my next post, which will share our foray into Bronte Land and more of the lovely city I enjoyed for three days!