I love Boots. Not the kind you wear. Our trip to Yorkshire.
We spent two great weeks in Yorkshire and Cumbria, and toured several Boots’ chemist shops. Drugstores are a highlight of any trip to Europe for me, and I have to say that I’m totally in love with Boots.
We flew via US Airways, PIT to PHL to MAN. No problems, comfortable enough, and I slept on the flight. We collect US Airways miles and the tickets were 35K each over the end of May/beginning of June. The down side was that the trip encompassed 14 days because of award availability;, which is a long time for us to be away.
From MAN we took a train directly from the airport to the city of York. Easy and comfortable. Because we knew our money was fairly worthless in England, we didn’t spend much time noting prices once we arrived, so I can’t report on the cost of the train tickets. We did our budgeting upfront, with free air, B&Bs, and a good deal on a car from AutoEurope. Once we were in England we just did what we needed to do, and didn’t particularly note prices. It would have been a joy killer.
We took a cab from York station to our B&B, The Bronte House. This place is fine. 80£ for a double with a good shower. I prefer a hotel to a B&B, but I had read a lot of terrible reviews on less expensive hotels in York, and decided on this place. Walking distance from the historic center, with a grocery store very nearby. Decent breakfast, clean. I don’t think you get a ton for your money in York. I don’t want to sound like I hated this place; it was really fine, just not my taste. Wifi was iffy, and breakfast sausage was of the less than 100% meat variety. The people were very friendly. http://www.bronte-guesthouse.com/food.htm
There were some places I found that I think I would have preferred, but I got distracted when making reservations, and my first choices were taken when I got around to writing to them. I hope I learn a lesson from that.
We spent two nights in York. After settling in when went straight to Clifford’s Tower to buy our English Heritage memberships. I had spent a lot of time weighing the cost of various passes against where we were going, and this was the best deal for us. We were able to get a couple’s membership that included a senior discount. It seemed like an even better deal because I was planning on using the membership early next year in London, to see a few off beat sights, but that plan might be postponed and the year membership will be expired before we go back. Still, this was cheapest for us and turned out great.
We enjoyed our time in York, but were a bit beat from the flight and I was a little sick the first day. I have lupus and although I’m not as sick as so many with this disease, it does occasionally kick my butt. York Minster was great, but surprisingly not my favorite cathedral of the trip. I had really been looking forward to it, and that is why I was surprised to like another church better. More on that later.
We had a good time window shopping in York. There were so many shops; I can understand why I had read reports tripadvisor.com of folks going to York to shop. My husband, who hasn’t had a nice piece of clothing in at least a decade, got a Rohan jacket that he wore everyday of the trip. I wore his old wind breaker nearly everyday, and I was glad it was available. I had brought a lot of sweaters, but needed the windbreaker. Our best meal in York was at Café No.8 http://www.cafeno8.co.uk/
After two nights we took a taxi to get our rental car at Hertz at York station. It was really a snazzy car, much nicer than we had payed for. We rented through AutoEurope and as we usually do, took a small manual. Everyone was impressed by the car we got but me, because I absolutely could not crawl in and out of it, or reach anything that was on the floor. I couldn’t sit on the seat to change my shoes. Shoe changing at the car is a major activity in the North. My husband loved the car and said it was fast, but I hated it because I was so uncomfortable.
We had no problem driving to Castle Howard, where we had a very nice day, and I ate the truly best strawberries with cream that I’ve ever had in my life. I’m a Brideshead fan, so this was a good stop for me, but I think anyone would like it. The house is full of amazing art and china; there was much more there in terms of sculpture, painting, and dishes than I expected. We walked way too many miles of the grounds, including the woods, down to the water, over to the temples, etc, and then spent a good chunk of time in the farm shop. We bought all sorts of local cheeses there, and had a grand picnic in our next B&B, where no takeout foods were allowed. We felt guilty, but being uninformed ahead of time, we had no choice but to eat cheese.
When we left Castle Howard, we drove straight to Brickfields Farm in Kirbymoorside, North Yorkshire Moors, close to Helmsley. http://www.brickfieldsfarm.co.uk/index.htm
We spent 5 nights here and were sorry to leave. There aren’t enough good things to say about this place. I don’t know where to begin describing it. When I was looking for a place in Helmsley, I discovered the website for Brickfields Farm and just kept coming back to it. Nothing seemed as good in comparison, and I’m guessing nothing could be as good in reality. It was certainly one of the nicest places we’ve ever stayed, and we both agreed that the 95£ per night was worth more. We had a huge room with a huge sitting area and huge bed with wonderful linens. A hallway, marble floored entrance and kitchen and a gigantic bathroom with a huge tub and a huge marble walk in shower. Every amenity one could want was included, which means terrific toiletries and delicious little chocolate mints that were replaced each time I ate them all.
Breakfast at Brickfields Farm was incredible. Beautiful linens and china and music every morning, with wonderful fresh fruit and nothing cheap. No apples or bananas here, but lovely lovely berries and segmented citrus and all kinds of delightful things in pretty fruit cups. They served the best mueslix I have ever tasted, full of big crunchy hazelnuts and other luxurious nuts and seeds… just incredible. The tomatoes at breakfast were sweet and tasty… there were DVDs in each room (none that were really to my taste; we watched Vicky Christina Barcelona and I thought it was awful)… everything was perfection, and the place was set among bucolic fields with bunnies and lambs; you couldn’t make this place up.
From Brickfieldss Farm we visited Rievaulx Abbey, which was my favorite of all the abbeys we saw. I liked it best because of its wonderful setting, I think. The atmosphere was great, the abbey was suurounding by beauty, and it was very peaceful and uncrowded.
We also went to Byland Abbey on the same day, and stopped in Harome and Helmsley to explore the villages. Byland was much lonelier than Rievaulx. There were en situ mosaics and very pretty fields, as well as an old archway across from the site. We spent more time there than we had planned.
We took a day to drive to the east coast, and stopped in Goathland and Littlebeck to explore on the way to the North Sea coast. In Littlebeck we wanted to visit the waterfall, and spent about an hour meandering along the coast to coast path there. Littlebeck is a gorgeous village with a beautiful stream that wanders through pristine woods.
We then moved on to Straithes were we walked downhill and along the sea, visiting the Life Boat rescue station and it’s tiny shop. I am sorry to say that this was a hard day for me and walking back up the hill of the town was impossible. It was such a tiny place that there were no alternative ways to get up the hill, and my poor husband had to go for the car and come down as far as he could drive to pick me up. This made me sad, but we still had a lot of places to visit that day.
Whitby was our next big stop. We spent a lot of time at Whitby Abbey. These were pretty awesome ruins, but because of all the visitors, they weren’t as pristine as the other abbey and castle ruins we visited.
A note: I had read a few places that if you walk down the steps from Whitby Abbey, you must be prepared to walk back up if you’ve parked at the Abbey. This is not true. I could never have made it up, but asked at the ticket booth about ways to get back up the hill. There are two inexpensive sightseeing busses that make round trips around the town, as well as public busses from near the train station, and about a zillion taxis. We took a taxi for about 5£.
The big draw for me with Whitby was that this was the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m fond of that book, and as a writing teacher, I often used it for lessons and examples. I thought I would pick up some sort of a spooky vibe in the cemetery where the Count bit Lucy Westenra, but it was full of sunshine and tourists.
Whitby was unattractive; tacky shops and a bad dinner at The Magpie Café. To be fair, my husband thought his fish and chips at The Magpie were fine, but I thought they were gross. I had to use a napkin to get congealed grease off the roof of my mouth.
From Whitby we drove to the very beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay. I wish we had spent less time at Whitby and more at Robin Hood’s Bay. The entire coast was very beautiful and we enjoyed our drive.
We spent a big day visiting Ripon and Fountains Abbey. I am in love with Ripon Cathedral. This smaller cathedral was fascinating and accessible, and we found a retired staff member who was more than willing to talk at length about the ancient choir carvings.
From Ripon, we drove to Fountains. There was a medieval village encampment and we spent a huge amount of time there and exploring the extensive ruins. I was unable to walk on to view the grounds away from the Abbey, but hey, you can’t do everything. This was a great day, and I would recommend both these stops.
When we left Brickfields and Kirbymoorside, we took a route across The Yorkshire Dales, This also was a really big day.
There was more to this trip, including our time in the Lakes at Keswick, and then two fun nights in Liverpool with a dear friend..
I thought I'd get nothing up, so this is pretty good. I will answer all questions.
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Much delayed and still unfinished UK report
I love Boots. Not the kind you wear. Our trip to Yorkshire.