We moved to our next accommodation and next county as we slowly headed north to Scotland – near Driffield, Yorkshire. This was a beautiful Airbnb cottage set on farmland, with its own exquisite garden area. We loved watching the bees and butterflies and also looking out from our attic at the miles of farmland beyond.
We decided to undertake a day trip to the nearby city of York. York itself has had many ‘owners’ over time as the Romans founded it (as Eboracum) in 71 AD, then after the fall of Rome, the Anglo-Saxons took control, the Vikings (who renamed it Jorvik) also had possession for a time, before the Normans eventually claimed it. With all this history we were excited to see what York had to offer and the old arch and castle we spied as we drove in only served to whet our appetites for more.
After finding a park (cheapest is at the railway station), we crossed the river and admired an old fortified turret that once would have been part of the castle walls.
St Mary’s Abbey
The first sight we visited was St Mary’s Abbey – an atmospheric ruined abbey, dating back to the 1200’s. It was quite huge and was full of people just relaxing and using it as a park. Sometimes we feel that we enjoy the ruins more than non-ruined sights as it creates an atmospheric mood and inspires the imagination!
Walk the Walls
After passing more examples of the old town’s fortifications, we came to one of the highlights of our visit – the opportunity to walk the walls. This is in sections as the walls are not all remaining, but we always enjoy the opportunity to walk along the parapets and enjoy the view. This was free and certainly one of the best things in York.
As we are traveling for so long we have to be careful about which attractions we pay for. We try as much as possible to stick with free ones and really weigh up whether we think a paid one is ‘worth it’ before committing our money. So it was with York Minster (11 pounds entry not cheap) – most churches and cathedrals we have seen have been free – but we were swayed by the promise of some interesting exhibits and the stained glass windows (the largest medieval ones in the world). Plus, it looked very impressive from the outside.
So we paid our entry fee and we certainly enjoyed looking around, the tombs, gargoyles, decorations, windows were all amazing – we just felt the entry fee was a bit steep. However, a lot of places north of London appear to have entry fees for even small tourist attractions, we just aren’t used to it from the majority of our trip.
As we left we noticed some more Roman reminders (a statue of the Roman emperor and an old column)
Our next stop was the Shambles. This little street is famous as it is full of old medieval houses and shops. It was supposedly the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books (which also accounted for the four Harry Potter shops we counted). It is certainly amazing looking, but the street is very short and very touristy.
Overall we enjoyed the day trip to York -the highlight for us was the ruined abbey and the wall walk.