I have been challenged several times for neglecting to visit more places in the United Kingdom and so after many years avoiding UK travel opportunities we set off for a couple of days into neighbouring Yorkshire together with my sister Lindsay and her husband Mick .
It seemed appropriate to do so because they live in Gloucestershire in the south of England and confessed to me that they have never visited England’s largest county. After setting off we passed from Lincolnshire, the second largest county, into Yorkshire across the stunning Humber Bridge which spans the estuary of the same name and which separates the two English heavy-weight counties.
At almost one and a half miles long the Humber Suspension Bridge is the seventh largest of its type in the World. This statistic used to be even more impressive because when it was first opened in 1981, and for the next sixteen years, it was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the World and the distance by road between Hull and Grimsby was reduced by nearly fifty miles as a consequence of the construction and put the ferry company immediately out of business.
We were making our first stop at the Cathedral City of York which is somewhere that I have visited several times before. This is me in 1980, I used to really like that jacket, it was reversible, burgundy and grey and I think the sleeves zipped out but I always preferred the burgundy!
I don’t know why I keep going back to York because I would never include it in a top ten of favourite places in England. It is touristy and busy and getting in and out in a car is really, really difficult because the old medieval road layout is completely unsuitable to cope with the volume of modern day traffic and there is almost always severe congestion.
And parking is at a premium and expensive. Yes, there is Park and Ride but who wants to leave their car five miles out in a field and then crawl into the city on an overcrowded bus? We found a car park near the centre and eventually paid a vicious £11 for two and a half hours parking. If I was staying any longer I would have needed to arrange for a bank loan. I couldn’t help but notice that there was defibrillator placed conveniently next to the pay station.
Kim tells me that I am getting old and grumpy and that my expectation of fees and charges has been firmly left behind in about the year 2000, maybe even 1990, but the plain fact is that I just find York expensive. The Castle Museum costs £12, the Jorvik Centre £20 and York Minster (second largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe after Cologne in Germany) is £11.50. I really resent paying to visit a Cathedral, last week I went to Madrid and it was free. Lots of Cathedrals charge these days, Westminster Abbey is a massive £22 which makes Lincoln look a bargain at only £8. The most visited Cathedral in England is in Durham and that is free!
To be fair, I have to say that my favourite museum in York is the National Railway Museum which doesn’t charge an entry fee but spoils that with extortionate car parking charges. I’ll tell you about the National Railway Museum in another post.
Another thing that I don’t like about York is, and this has to be said, it isn’t especially attractive. Yes in the centre there are one or two well preserved medieval streets around The Shambles area but there is also an awful lot of ill conceived and inappropriate 1960s redevelopment from a time when town planners and architects were tearing down historic buildings and replacing them with concrete and steel. These people who were responsible should be retrospectively tracked down and sent to prison.
York is a city for tourists…