2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

The "Swan"

View up Windermere Lake

One of several islands in the Lake

Lovely fall colours on the Lake

The Wall at York


More of the Wall

The Shambles

Long name for a short street

York Castle

This is the final entry and it covers our last two days. This entry is Saturday October 1 at 630PM at York. Yesterday morning before leaving the very touristy town of Bowness-on-Windermere, we took a boat cruise on Windermere Lake. Bowness is about mid-lake on the eastern shore, our cruise was to the top of the Lake and back, about an hour and a quarter return. Beautiful here in the heart of Lake Country with Windermere Lake being England's largest at 10 miles long a 1 mile wide at its greatest breadth. Gouged out by a glacier and surrounded with tall mountains (well tall for England, maybe some 2500 feet)the shores are mostly all non commercial with elegant estates upon the eastern shore while the western shore is forested to the water with the variety of trees splendid in dynamic autumn hues. The water is still and as a mirror as greens, yellows and crimsons spill out onto the calm blue. This is sailboat country and there are many with many of the manors having elegant old stone boat house moorings.

The morning has a slight chill in a cloudless sky but this quickly passes. Record high temperatures are due today, and this last day of September will turn out to be like the first day of August. Packed with tourists and everyone here seems to be strolling a dog, which is quite unusual for these islands.

From Bowness we headed east, again up through the Pennines with the twisting narrow roads and then through the Yorkshire Dales heading for tonight's destination in York.

We met one remarkable stretch along the way in which we tallied perhaps 40 or more (we lost count) dead pheasants, victims of road kill. All in a 3 mile stretch squished and bloody in feathered heaps of disembodiment. Just as they seemed to peter out we came upon a roadside group of hunters with guns and dogs preparing obviously for the hunt. There must have been a whole lot of pheasants around that area or that posse was a tad late. York is an old city, founded by the Romans in 71 AD, another walled city although the current walls were constructed in the 13th & 14th centuries. Arriving a little later in the day and myself becoming increasingly weary from the great deal of driving every day we did not do much more than settle into our hotel,eat and retire for the night. But good heavens! Finally a hotel with air conditioning and boy does York need it.

So today is our last touring day and York really tops it off. The walls, castle and the famous York minster are all marvellous, old and majestic. Our hotel is right on the south bank of the River Ouse with the old town exactly right across from us. Tour boats ply the gently flowing river and York is certainly a destination town and with two Starbucks! Full of young people and packed with tourists, the locals are all remarking about how late in the season the tourist crowd remains and how hot it is. In the 80s and the humidity is stifling. Being Saturday morning a large and vibrant market spreads out in the old city center. Full of fresh produce, flowers and wares and crafts, Mother especially enjoys poking around the so-many stalls and talking to the locals. We ended up at a church bazaar and tea room at the end of an incredible area known as The Shambles, the medieval market place with a narrow cobblestone roadway, tall close very old shops with tiny doors, sagging ancient timbers and very old stonework. All still functioning shops and tea rooms and jam packed with tourists like us. More than markets, Mother loves poking around church bazaars, like those of her own church at home. Outdoors with a very good men's choir that she simply had to stay and hear fully. Quite a handle this church has: another incredibly old church this St. Crux Of The Pavement!

So our last day was spent strolling around York. Joan & I walked the entire wall south of the river. Another long section is north but the day is just too hot. Tomorrow we drive down to Manchester airport, fly to London, transfer and then the long flight home.

It has been quite the journey. We have seen and done a great deal. Perhaps we think a bit too much. A whole lot of driving, a whole lot of hotels, a whole lot of restaurant meals and whole lot of living out of a suitcase. To anyone contemplating a similar trip my advise would be to do it differently. Take 3 weeks and do England. Another trip take 3 weeks and do Ireland. Likewise for Scotland. A little slower pace and the opportunity to delve more completely into the vitality of each. But it's been quite the adventure.

And now some observations....

Friendliest country: Republic of Ireland.

Friendliest cab drivers: Northern Ireland.

Best meals and biggest portions: Republic Of Ireland.

Best castle: Eilean Donan in Scotland.

Best hotel: Limerick, Ireland.

Best stay: Loch Lomond, Scotland. Joan says Craigard House in Campbeltown, Mull of Kintrye Scotland.

Best breakfast: Loch Lomond, Scotland.

Biggest delight (discovery): Campbeltown (Mull Of Kintyre), Scotland.

Most satisfying visit: Knockin Heath, England and Dunfermline, Scotland.

The incredible moments: Mother kissing the Blarney Stone, Joan finding her great-great grandfather's gravesite in Knockin Heath and for me Abbey Road crosswalk in London and the Beatles tour in Liverpool and meeting up with Corrie Boucher in Edinburgh.

Of course we have many more but to learn them, well you are just going to have to call us at home. But not for a few days if you please!

We are after all North Americans and we are ready to come home.

For we do indeed live in the best place in the world.

For all of you who followed our blog we hope you enjoyed it, and I know at times I am often politically incorrect, but Jimmy crack corn and....

See you all soon, with love Steve, Joan and Patricia.

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