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Published May 4th 2014
Discover the Vikings of Medieval York
Following our adventures in Scotland we travelled by train from Glasgow to the north of England and into my heritage county of Lancashire. This was to be the last stop on our 7 week tour and for me personally one of the most important as I was to reconnect with family I had not seen for 35 years.
The weather we had encountered in London continued here with quite often 12oC and drizzly days. That may not seem particularly cold to some, but when you live where the temperature is 30oC or more year round, it was a trifle uncomfortable at times. We were not about to let that stop us and there were many adventures and much fun to be had.
With family and friends around we based ourselves at the Premier Inn Blackburn Central. I have to be honest; I was expecting the worst here. It is undoubtedly a budget hotel and we had stayed in so many hotels during our trip, some great and some, well, not so great however the Premier Inn Blackburn Central was a wonderful surprise! Large, comfortable rooms and a great pub next door for those days that you need to eat but just do not want to leave the hotel. The only thing I will say is that there is no public transport nearby and if it was not for the fact that we had family and friends who were more than happy to transport us around, without a car it would have been almost impossible.
The Yorkshire Dales, where we spent a full day exploring are an absolute wonder. We live in a harsh climate, full of thick bush and red soil but the green fields and lovely streams here were simply amazing to us. The colour of the water was absolutely fascinating. Described as the colour of cola, the water flows through the peat to end up in very fast moving streams. Just where we saw some people wading, we were told that many people had been swept away, so word of warning if you come here, please do not anticipate wading to cool your feet.
We spent quite a few hours in the grounds of Bolton Abbey, exploring the countryside and the 12th century ruins of the Priory. I find ruins fascinating; I cannot help but wonder who lived there, what it was like and what happened for it to get this way. There is a lovely café where you can get anything from a full hot meal to coffee and cake. The property is extensive and there are many activities to keep you amused. Plan to spend many hours here, as there are lots of walking tracks which provide interesting views of the abbey.
Bardon Tower, in the grounds of Bolton Abbey is also worth a look around. You cannot get inside this ruin as it has been deemed unsafe, however you can look around it and see in from the outside. I spent a long time here trying to work out where the staircase to nowhere went. As I could not go in, I did not work it out, but it was absolutely fascinating.
A day trip to the medieval walled city of York is a must if you are in the area. We had intended getting the train here, however family kindly transported us. If you come here by car, it is easier to park outside of the city and get the bus in for a small cost. We started our day at the Jorvik Viking Centre. The centre is built on top of viking ruins and you can walk on a glass platform which shows the foundations of buildings. Information provided shows the layout of the buildings and it is really interesting to see how small these houses were.
Wandering through the city we discovered a small alley with many old fashioned shops. Here we bought some lovely old fashioned sweets and enjoyed lunch in a small Italian café. We learned that garlic bread is not actually bread spread with garlic butter and baked as it is in Australia, but is a pizza topped with a garlicky tomato sauce! Very enjoyable!
Take the time to have a look around York Minister (Cathedral) and if you are brave climb to the bell tower and around the walls, for a wonderful view of the city. There is a cost involved, so please check it out on their website.
You cannot visit the north of England without taking a cruise on Lake Windemere. We spent a lovely day cruising the lake, hopping on and off at the various stops. At the southern end of the lake is Lakeside; you can get a steam train here on the Ulverston – Lakeside Line. We started our journey here, boarding the boat which would take us all the way up the lake and back.
Our first stop was Bowness, were we stopped for some lunch in a lovely little café. There are many around and it is easy to grab a quick snack or lunch and there is a little train for the kiddies, young and old to transport you around the tourist areas.
Our adventures around the north of England were lovely. I got to see where my parents had grown up and lived their early adult lives and I gained a sense of connection which I have not previously had. This was the end of our European adventure and from here we headed home to resume our normal routines. Well, how do you define normal? This is definitely an adventure I am keen to repeat very soon.