I had never really considered how much of my time I would spent in any one particular county in my travels, I just wanted to visit places I hadn’t seen before and places which I have enjoyed in the past but it does seem that I have wholly favoured the county of Yorkshire far more than any other.
Heading across the Yorkshire Moors from Whitby to York was a very picturesque drive and as I approached the city I knew, before I was going to check into my final YHA hostel of this trip, that I was going to visit the National Railway Museum (NRM) as I had seen another travel blog on the WordPress site where the author had raved about it. And they were right to.
Set over 20 acres and established in 1975, the NRM showcases over 100 locomotives and over 300 items of rolling stock. Although I initially thought it would just be a trainspotter’s paradise, it really was a highly interesting and well laid out museum and with all the information you are able to garner about the expansion of Britain’s railways since the 1800s, you can get caught up in imagining the journeys and passengers these trains took, when we were at the peak of Britain’s locomotive industry.
As well as royal carriages on display for at least 5 different monarchs and some of the most sleek and sophisticated locomotives designed, there were also relatively modern trains on exhibit as well, such as the Eurostar and Japan’s Bullet Train. The Flying Scotsman was also there but it was quite sadly at the back of the mechanics shed, where it was being worked upon, to ensure it maintained the status that people expect of such a world record setting engine. Like Beamish Open Air Museum, I spent much more time here than planned and considering it is a free museum, it was an afternoon really well spent.
After checking into the hostel, I took a walk along the river to head into York to reaquaint myself with the this old Viking City. I think perhaps the last time I was in York was 10 years ago and do have fond memories of a city so rich in history and culture. The York Minster (also the Cathedral) dominates York’s skyline, as the building regulations states that no building be taller, so it is always an impressive site to see. I took a stroll around and arranged to meet a fellow traveller for drinks in the city, as it was a Saturday night. Quite a random observation, as we meandered from pub to pub, following the fall out of the England vs Ireland rugby match, was that every man in York wore a dark shirt with blue jeans and brown shoes and there were no exceptions. Apart from me, who clearly didn’t get the memo. I even got some funny looks as I had worn my comfy white trainers to wander around in, clearly to the horror of the locals!
Heading back to the hostel and my penultimate night in a YHA, with the remainder of my sleeping arrangements being at friends houses and a final AirBnB in Cambridge, I was able to finally see first hand the frustrations of sharing a room with 7 complete strangers, all with their own peculiarities when it comes to sleeping. My awful nights sleep was because I had all the worst possible bunk mates you wouldn’t even wish on your worst enemy. They were:
- The snorer
- The habitual cougher
- The plastic bag rustler (all through the night)
- The early riser – whose alarm went off at 4.30am and went for ages
- The snoozer – who set his alarm to snooze 5 times from 6am
- The farter
- The starer – who stays under his covers the whole time, just watching everyone
I thought I would have more of a chance to win the lottery, rather than have them all in my room at once. I got up at 8am knackered and grumpy and for those left in bed became the other annoying man in the room – the one who turns on all the lights. Looks like we had a full house!
Heading into York that morning, the extremely cold weather and the rain really pulled out all the stops to keep my mood low and my experience of this great city pretty dim. I went to seek warmth in the Mister but was quite taken back at having to be told I would have to pay ten pounds to enter, when every other cathedral I had visited on this trip (and there have been quite a few) had all been free or suggested a donation. Leaving the Minster without looking around, I stumbled upon a volunteer led walking tour of the city which was leaving in 5 minutes so tagged along and enjoyed hearing about its roots as an original roman city before being taken over by vikings, to it being the ‘capital’ of the North in medieval times. It was a good and informative walk but the bitter cold and tiredness finally defeated me and I decided to retreat back to the YHA and to my empty dorm, where I spent the afternoon reading and snoozing.
I headed back out to enjoy a ghost tour on my final evening, which was very theatrical and quite amusing, rather than factual but what was interesting was that you can spot cats and mice all around the city. The mice are a trademark of architect Robert ‘mousey’ Thompson and the cats are part of a century old tradition around the city. Spotting them all over the place was quite a fun game of… cat and mouse 🙂
The next morning, the sun was shining so to make up for my lost afternoon due to the rain, I headed out to walk the city walls. The walls have been heavily restored and are well maintained for all us tourists who like to see the city from a higher perspective. They take you round the main city with some amazing vantage points and some brilliant photo opportunities. I was really glad to have the chance to wander some more city walls and this was a high note (no pun intended) to leave York on and to head to yet another City of Yorkshire.
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