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Wandering around England in 38 days: Trip Report March/April 2024

My trip to England was from March 18 to April 25, 2024. I stayed in London (5 nights), Cornwall and Devon (9 nights), Liverpool (3 nights), The Peak District (5 nights), Yorkshire (7 nights), Northumberland and Hadrian’s Wall (6 nights), Oxford (1 night) and one final night at Heathrow. I also kept a personal blog with more detailed information about my travels and lots of photos. The link is in my profile.

MSP/LHR: My non-stop flight from Minneapolis to London was in a Comfort+ seat that failed to put me magically to sleep. It didn’t help that I was just getting over a cold. Once I arrived, getting from Heathrow to Waterloo Station provided a bit of a challenge. For some reason, I thought all the trains could be accessed inside, but I had to leave the nice warm airport for the outdoor entrance to the trains. Once I got there, I went down to the Underground station and asked an employee if he could put my railcard on the Oyster card. It was not a problem, so I bought the Oyster card and he added the railcard. After that, I headed back and got the Elizabeth line to Tottenham Court Road Station. From there, I transferred to the Northern Line and got off at Waterloo Station. I walked out of Waterloo using the Way out #4 - Tension Way exit, and it was a quick 5 minute walk to the Premier Inn County Hall.

HOTEL: Premier Inn County Hall. I arrived around 9:30 am so too early to check in, but I was able to drop off my luggage. I came back around 2 pm, and they let me check in early. I was told about the £10 early-check-in fee, but they never charged me for it. I opted to get a Premier Plus room because of the mini fridge and the better wifi. I’m still not sure it was worth it, as the room did not seem much bigger than regular ones I had in the past, and I didn’t really use the mini fridge that much. All the Premier Plus rooms are on the same floor.

The beds were very comfy, but I hated that you could not leave the bathroom door open (that was on purpose - evidently it’s some kind of rule). It would not have been too bad except there was a slight odor in the bathroom, so I propped it open every day to air it out. I didn’t say anything about it till the end of my stay, although I should have. The breakfast was good, although I didn’t always eat there, and everything else was fine. The location was great, and very convenient to many of the sights. There was also a M&S Food Hall nearby, as well as a number of cafes and restaurants, including Gail’s Bakery (more on that below).

London: I spent 5 nights in London. My first day was spent just walking around and refreshing my sleep-deprived brain. I mostly walked around London, but used the tube or bus when needed, and used my Oyster card for all public transport. I never felt unsafe no matter where I went, including one late night walk from my hotel to and from Covent Garden. There were so many places I wanted to visit and just didn’t make it there. But there’s always next time!

Money: I took no cash at all with me, and used tap-and-pay with Apple Pay the entire time I was in England. I did have to go to an ATM for cash to pay my Seahouses B&B but that was due to a misunderstanding on my part. In hindsight, I wish now I would have gotten around £20 in one or two pound notes or coins, as I sometimes wanted to give small donations to the old churches I went to, and the smaller ones did not always have donation pay stations. But other than that, I didn’t need cash at all.

College Gardens: These are the gardens attached to Westminster Abbey and used to be free to the public. But evidently Covid changed that and the gardens are now only open to ticket holders of Westminster Abbey.

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St. Paul’s Church (the Actor’s Church): It’s in Covent Garden and was designed by Inigo Jones in 1631 and is still one of my favorite spots in London. Many years ago, Lynn Redgrave, who was in a show at the theatre where I worked, suggested I visit it. Her father has a memorial here, and there are other memorials to a number of actors. Ellen Terry’s ashes sit in an urn on the wall. There is a lovely garden in front where you can sit and enjoy the flowers. It’s a nice respite in busy London.

IZIPIZI shop: For those who wear reading glasses, I highly recommend these (pronounced Easy-Peasy). I bought my first pair in Amsterdam back in 2018, and I’ve been buying them ever since, so I was pleasantly surprised to find they have several locations in London. I bought two pairs at the Covent Garden location.

Westminster Abbey: I’m not going to go on too much about the Abbey, because let’s face it, it’s one of the iconic faces of London and everyone should see it. But I am going to recommend the “Hidden Highlights of Westminster Abbey” tour. It’s a fairly new tour that the Abbey offers, but you have to book early. Tickets for March and April went on sale the first day of March, and I snagged mine then. It sold out a day or so later. There are only 15 people allowed on each tour and they only offer 2 a day.

It’s around 75 minutes and you get to see the lost medieval sacristy, which was recently uncovered during an archaeological excavation; Cheyneygates, originally part of the rebuilding of the Abbot's house complex in the 14th century; Jerusalem Chamber, where Henry IV died; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, which displays many of the Abbey’s treasures (nice, because you don’t need to pay for access to it).

The tour was wonderful, especially seeing the lost sacristy and the bones of the Benedictine monks who founded the Abbey in 960 AD. The website says no photos are allowed on the tour, but the guide let us take them (except for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries).

London meet-up with Nigel: I had the most wonderful meet up with Nigel and his lovely wife, Carol. We met at St. Pancras station, which is absolutely gorgeous, and wound up having dinner together. It was so much fun and such a pleasure to meet them both.They were so nice and I really enjoyed chatting with them. Nigel knew so much about the places I’d been and the places I was going to, and he gave me a lot of really helpful information. Meeting them was the highlight of my day.

Ceremony of the Keys: This was something Nigel and I discussed, because he is a member and was going there a few days after me on a day where only members are allowed. After my experience this time, I’m thinking I might become a member when I go back, so I would not have to face the large number of people that were there. It was very different from when I first saw the ceremony back in 1996, and some of the magic was gone for me. But that’s me. I think if you haven’t seen it before, it’s definitely worth attending.

Kew Gardens: Kew was very easy to get to from my hotel. I walked up the block to Westminster Bridge, crossed over the bridge and once I reached the other side, walked down to the Westminster Underground station, used my Oyster card to enter the stiles, then headed for the District Line train, which would take me to Kew Gardens. The train took about 30 minutes and I got out at the village of Kew, which is a delightful little village with some cute houses, nice cafes and some fun topiary.

It is a quick walk up to Victoria Gate, one of the entrances, and there are a couple of park benches where you can wait for the gardens to open if you get there early (as I did). Inside is a large cafe and an even larger gift shop, with some wonderful items for sale. The gardens themselves were just amazing. I spent so much time just walking around and seeing all the gorgeous blooms and trees and greenhouses.

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Richmond: To get to Richmond, I exited Kew Gardens at the Lion Gate entrance near the Pagoda, then walked across the street to the bus stop and soon caught a bus into Richmond. It’s a very charming town, and very walkable. I had lunch at The Prince’s Head (for Ted Lasso fans, it’s The Crown & Anchor pub on the show). The food and ale were very good (I had Shepherd’s Pie).

After lunch, I took a walk along the Thames River in the direction of Twickinham. I planned to stop at Ham House, but with all the walking I’d done that day, I gave up early. I had to ask someone’s help to get me back to Richmond, and they showed me a road that runs off the car park. I walked along that road towards a bus stop, the bus took me to Richmond Station, and I grabbed the next train to Waterloo Station near my hotel.

John Singer Sargent Exhibit at the Tate Britain: I loved this exhibit and highly recommend seeing it if you like art and are here before it closes. The exhibit was also blessedly crowd free, as they were limiting the number of people who could come in during each timed booking. His paintings are so beautiful and I had a wonderful time just wandering through the galleries.

Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martins-in-the-Field: This is located right off Trafalgar Square and is another place with memories for me, as I was here back in the mid-90’s and loved it then. It’s been spruced up a bit since that time, but the food was still good and the tombs were still under my feet while I ate. My beef and ale pie with gravy came with carrots, braised red cabbage and a green salad and was delicious. It’s a nice lunch spot.

Parlour Restaurant in Fortnum & Mason: I went here on my birthday. Originally I had planned to go to Wolseley’s for afternoon tea, but completely forgot to make a reservation and it was booked. So was everyplace else I tried, so I came here and it was just as good as I remembered from my first trip. I did not get afternoon tea as they don’t offer it at this location, but I did get a cream tea and the scones were so delicious. I had mentioned to the hostess that it was my birthday, and so the server brought me a little tray with three miniature ice cream cones containing three different sherbets in each one and some swirled cotton candy on one of them. It was so cute, especially when he sang Happy Birthday to me with a strong Chinese accent.

Victoria & Albert Museum. This is one of my favorite museums in London, mostly because of the costumes and garments that are here. Sadly, the costume exhibit was closed for some reason, but I still managed to see some period fashion pieces that were quite lovely. The gift shop here is also outstanding, and I found some nice souvenirs for my daughter and granddaughter.

Theatre: To celebrate my birthday, I bought a last minute 4th row center seat to see Billy Crudup in Harry Clarke, a one-man show at the Ambassador Theatre. It was only a mile from my hotel and was a gorgeous night out, so I had a lovely walk to the theatre, and the show was wonderful. Billy Crudup’s performance was magnetic. He played 17 different characters—both men and women—and did it without leaving the stage. The audience gave him a well-deserved standing ovation at the end and we were all cheering him quite loudly during the curtain call. It was a nice birthday present to myself.

South Bank: This area has a very different look to it than the area north of the Thames, like Westminster or Covent Garden. The architecture is gorgeously modern, with lots of blocky and futuristic looking concrete buildings interspersed with high rise glass buildings, like The Shard. It is a striking contrast to other areas of London, but it attracts huge numbers of people, and there is always something going on. I spent my last day in London wandering around here, and absolutely loved it.

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Tate Modern: I’m not a big fan of modern art, but I wanted to see the special exhibit there called Infinity Mirror Rooms by the brilliant artist Yayoi Kusama. It is an immersive experience showing the artist’s vision of “endless reflections.” It was well worth the visit. I can’t even describe the experience of seeing her vision, but it was amazing. And I found out that the artist and I share the same birthday.

Borough Market: I loved this market! I got there early enough so it wasn’t too terribly crowded, but when I stopped back later it was packed. The food was delicious, especially at Bread Ahead, where I bought a creme brulee donut based on what 2 women in front of me said. ​​It even had hardened caramelized sugar on top, which crunched when I bit into it. Sheer decadence! Some of the booths were quite interesting, especially the one that sold edible insects. I decided not to buy anything there, but I did get some photos.

Southwark Cathedral: Lovely cathedral frequented by Shakespeare, John Harvard (namesake/founder of Harvard College) and Charles Dickens. I remembered this from my last visit and really wanted to go inside, but there was a service going on so I had to pass. I had a cappuccino in their very nice cafe, though.

Gail’s Bakery: There are a number of these throughout London, including one right around the corner from the Premier Inn County Hall. The food was very good, and you can get takeaway or eat there. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a very nice option for getting a quick bite that tastes good.

Train to Cornwall and Devon: On Palm Sunday I took a Great Western Railway train from Paddington Station to Plymouth, where I spent the night at the Premier Inn Derry’s Cross. This is a small PI, but was only £48 for the night (they have special deals on Sundays sometimes) and was fairly close to the train station and also close to the Europcar rental office. The train ticket was only £30, as I bought an Advance ticket. It was non-refundable but cheap enough that I didn’t care much if something happened. The only annoying thing was that I left my jacket on the train and didn’t realize it till I was leaving the station. GWR has a claim form, but I either had to pay for shipping or go to Bristol to retrieve it. It wasn’t worth it for a $10 puffer jacket from Costco.

Europcar Rental: I rented a Vauxhall for 7 days while I was in Cornwall and Devon. I was not that impressed with their service, as the rep made multiple attempts to get me to upgrade the car and services, which I declined. I had originally gone through Europcar for the rental but then found a much better deal on AutoEurope (using Europcar) so I switched. The car was fine, although it had crappy gas mileage for an economy, But it did have CarPlay and I was very happy about that.

HOTEL: Royal Duchy Hotel in Cornwall. The Royal Duchy Hotel was located right off Gyllyngvase Beach and was one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in. I had a single room with a great view of the sea, heated towel rack, Nespresso machine and other amenities. The hotel also had a fitness room and swimming pool. Breakfast was included and was delicious and the price averaged around £75/night (double rooms were probably more). I especially enjoyed the large lounge area, which opened out to a patio sitting right above the coast. You could have a drink or order a meal here and just watch the ocean. There was a formal restaurant as well, but I liked the lounge and ate here most nights, as the food was delicious.

Pendennis Castle: The English Heritage castle is located about a mile from the hotel and so I walked here. Most of the route was along the coastline, but then you take a path that goes through the woods and leads uphill to the castle (but downhill coming back!). I really enjoyed touring the castle and its buildings. There was a nice cafe and gift shop there, also.

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Royal Oak Membership: Before I left home, I bought a Royal Oak membership. Royal Oak is a US non-profit that works with the National Trust and allows members free admission to National Trust properties in England. My membership fee was $80, and it includes free parking at all National Trust car parks. The admission prices for the first three National Trust properties I visited would have cost £55 (plus parking), which converts to around $70. And that was in the first 10 days. If you’re going to be in England for 2 weeks or more, do the math, but I think it’s a very good deal.

Penzance: Penzance was a lot bigger than I thought it would be, and I carefully drove through the street looking for a place to park. I finally found a space on a side street and pulled over, then wandered around the area. Penzance, like other coastal towns in Cornwall, sits right on the water, and the buildings rise up onto the cliffs, so you can get some breathtaking views of the harbor. It does make for some rugged driving and walking, as the roads are narrow and winding and very hilly. It was nice but I didn’t spend a lot of time here.

Mousehole: This little village was one of my favorite places in Cornwall. Mousehole is much smaller than Penzance and with its quaint harbor, narrow winding streets, and very old granite cottages, it just reeked of charm and character. I found a great car park right on the harbor and wandered around for several hours. There were a lot of shops showcasing the work of local artists, and some wonderful little restaurants and cafes.

Chysauster Ancient Villages, I really wanted to see this Roman-British settlement that was occupied almost 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately, after spending several miles on a long single track dirt road, Google Maps failed me and took me to a farm, where I had to spend 10 minutes backing out again. I later found out that the site was closed that day because of the rain and potential flooding.

St. Ives: Saint Ives was very crowded, and I hate being around large crowds of people, so that turned me off a bit. It was quite beautiful with the same rugged cliffs, narrow cobbled streets, traditional cottages, and bustling harbor as the others, but it was harder to get around. I finally found a car park, but it was way about the town and took a while to walk down the winding paths and stairs (and heading back up again was even more fun—not). I counted the steps as I walked back up, but lost track around 95.

Truro: I really liked Truro, and think it would make a very good base for Cornwall. In fact, if I hadn’t found my wonderful hotel in Falmouth, I would have liked to have stayed here. The cathedral was gorgeous and I highly recommend visiting it. The altar was quite beautiful and there were lovely Italian mosaic marble floors, beautifully carved choir seats, and an exquisite clay relief by a Doulton artist showing the thieves helping Jesus carry the cross. There were also some nice shops in the city as well, including some with local handwork, and another that sold decorative chocolate. And I found a TK Maxx so I was able to replace my lost jacket.

Lanhydrock House and Gardens: The gardens and house were really lovely, as were the furnished rooms. I usually like the outside of castles and stately homes better than the insides, but these were decorated well and interesting to see. There is a nice cafe where I had lunch, and I loved the topiary gardens. It was a good visit and I’m glad I came.

Trelissick Gardens: I planned to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Mevagissey, but when I was finished with Truro and Lanhydrock, it was too late as the last entrance to the Lost Gardens was at 3 pm. So I went to Trelissick Gardens. The gardens were absolutely beautiful and there were so many gorgeous flowers amidst the landscaping. It was a charming place and I loved walking around.

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St. Agnes: Saint Agnes is a charming little village that sits on a gorgeous coastline. My original intent was to head down to the coast and explore but when I got there, it was raining. So I decided to walk around town. St. Agnes has some very quaint buildings. One building that was called the Miners and Mechanics Institute was now a café, so I stopped in there and had a cup of tea. The rain had eased off a bit so I was able to walk through town and check out some of the cute buildings, like the St. Agnes Bakery, which is one of the oldest bakeries in Cornwall.

After I left St. Agnes, I wanted to try for the Lost Gardens again. This is where the driving got really bad. Not only were the roads very narrow, there were some places that were so small I felt like I was squeezing through. Unfortunately when I got to the turnoff for the Lost Gardens, the road was completely flooded, so I had to turn around and go back. I later found out that the Lost Gardens was closed due to flooding. It was a good reminder to myself to check websites and Facebook during inclement weather.

HOTEL: Grosvenor Hotel in Plymouth. This hotel was recommended by Golden Girl here on the forum. It was right up the street from the Hoe, which is a fantastic green space that overlooks the sea, and within walking distance of the Barbican, the historic city center. It’s family owned, and is in a tall gorgeous Victorian building. There was a small parking area in the back of the hotel, which is first come first served, but I never had any problem finding a space. The hotel also has a lounge, where you can relax and order a drink (or two) . Breakfast was included and the service was excellent. I really enjoyed my stay here.

I really liked Plymouth a lot. It was a very likable city, and had some interesting and diverse scenery. The Hoe is where everyone goes and you can head down to the water, or lay on the green and just spend the afternoon there.There is a landmark there showing a photo of the Beatles hanging out at the Hoe, and a very cool lighthouse that you can walk up in to see a great view. The Barbican is the more historic area with cobbled narrow streets, funky shops and some good restaurants and cafes, and really good fish and chips.

Dartmoor National Park: This place was so beautiful. There were rolling hills, huge granite tors, and gorgeous green valleys as far as the eye could see. Driving in places could get a little tough, as there were a lot of single track roads. But one local told me to stay off them as much as possible. He said locals usually just stick to the main roads, even if it seems longer, and only go on single track roads if they have to. Good advice!

Buckland Abbey. I headed here on the way to Plymouth from Falmouth and thought it was worth a visit. The buildings and grounds were interesting, especially if you’re a fan of Sir Francis Drake.

Dartmoor Prison Museum: The prison was a little homespun, but I liked it. It was interesting reading about some of the escape attempts and seeing the conditions of the prison back in the 1800’s. There were also displays of art that many of the prisoners had made, like a replica of the Space Shuttle Endeavor, which was created by a prisoner at Dartmoor during the Covid lockdown using 3D origami.

St. Pancras Church in Widecombe-in-the-Moor: I first heard about this church after reading an article about Bill Bryson, who named it as one of his favorite churches. It is an old medieval church in the middle of a small village, and was a real gem, as was the village, especially as I arrived on Market Day. There were several nice shops, a cafe and pub. The views in the area were absolutely gorgeous, and as you arrive, you can see the church steeple for several miles. I can see why Bill Bryson loved this place.

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Chagford: This was a bigger town, but very charming. I had dinner at the Three Crowns Pub right in town, and the food was wonderful. It’s definitely worth a visit. Some people on the forum have lodged at the pub here, and enjoyed their stay.

Lustleigh: I stopped here because I heard it was a very beautiful village, which is true. But I deeply regretted it, because it was so hard to maneuver in here with a car and all the roads in and out were single track. I finally managed to get it sorted and get out again, but it was not worth it, unless you can get there on foot.

Greenway: This was Agatha Christie’s home and I really wanted to see it. But unfortunately I didn’t do enough homework. For one thing, I wanted to go on Easter Sunday, but failed to remember that with the holiday, it would be busy. It was no problem getting a ticket, but I didn’t realize that you had to book a spot in the car park ahead of time. So I tried to book it for Sunday but it was completely sold out (not the house; just the parking).

Coleton Fishacre: Golden Girl on the forum mentioned this to me in a post, and I was so glad I visited. This was the vacation home of the D’Oyly Carte family, of the D’Oyly Carte Opera company fame. The gardens were gorgeous clusters of color and design, and the house was fabulous. I loved the Art Deco designs and you can see so much of it in the furnishings, the lighting and the decor.

Plymouth Meetup with Golden Girl: This time I had the pleasure of meeting Golden Girl. She was so nice and offered to meet me at the Europcar office, where I returned my rental car, then she drove us to Royal William Yard, which used to be a victualling depot for the Royal Navy, but now is a public area with cafes, restaurants and lots of open space. We had a really interesting conversation—she is a fascinating person. After that, we walked around the coastline, visiting a swimming space where everyone goes to swim in cold weather (ugh), and saw the ferries in the harbor. I had no idea that you could take a ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff in France. Food for thought! I had a wonderful time and was so glad I got to meet her.

Trains to Liverpool: To get there, I took 2 trains—one on Cross Country from Plymouth to Birmingham New Station, and then the second on LNWR to Liverpool Lime Street. They were Advance tickets and Stuart was kind enough to notify me once they were available. He was the one who told me to buy them separately to save money and he was right. I saved around £50 by booking them with two separate railway companies.

Birmingham New Station was really big and very interesting looking, but the signage was terrible so it was hard to figure out. However, there were plenty of employees to ask, and they were very helpful. And it has a Krispy Kremes donut shop that puts the US shops to shame. The donuts there were wonderful! There were lots of places to eat there, and lots of seating.

Liverpool: I stayed with my friend, Trish, and her husband, who live in Bebington, which is a quaint town in Wirral, just outside Liverpool. We spent the morning in Bebbington, which has some very old history, and also saw Port Sunlight, which is a really attractive place. It was originally a model village built to house the workers of the Lever Brothers in the late 1800s. Later that morning, we took the train into Liverpool (£4 and 30 minutes) and walked around Liverpool in the rain. It’s really a very cool city, with a lot of interesting and diverse architecture. I liked it a lot. We had tea and cake at a really nice cafe called Rococo, which consisted of 5 or 6 different rooms where you can lounge at leisure and had a lovely tea.

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Later, Trish’s husband picked us up and we went for drinks at the Philharmonic, which is a spectacular and very opulent pub, with mahogany fireplaces, and mosaic bar counters. It was really gorgeous and had a very art nouveau vibe. Ian snuck me into the men’s toilet so I could see the beautiful marble urinals and inlaid mosaics. The Beatles used to frequent the Philharmonic bar many decades ago. In 2018, however, James Corden and Paul McCartney filmed a Carpool Karaoke episode and at the end, they wound up in the Philharmonic with Paul performing before a very stunned crowd (the scene starts at 15:30). The episode was really moving.

Chester: The next day, Trish and I took the train to Chester, which is one of the most charming places I’ve been to. It’s a walled city, similar to York, and was so much fun to walk around in. Chester has an old-world charm with all the quaint buildings, and especially the black and white Tudor-style buildings. The streets are narrow and cobbled, with many running alongside canals, and are lined with shops, cafes, and pubs. It really creates a wonderful atmosphere for strolling and exploring. The Chester Cathedral is worth a visit, too. While there, we stopped at Huxleys, a cafe with a porthole you could look out of and see a lovely view of the city. The pot of tea and homemade Bakewell tart were quite tasty, too.

Wales: Ian picked us up in Chester, then we drove to The Corn Mill restaurant in Llangollen, Wales. It was lovely and the food was very good. There were old stones on the outside of the building (it dates back to the 1700s), but it was very modern/rustic on the inside, with lots of glass and wood. It was originally a mill and there are still some features of the mill left. There were old beams everywhere, and a turning water wheel behind the bar. The decks outside sat directly above the churning river, with rapids running through, and there were gorgeous river and mountain views from the huge picture windows inside. Across the river, there is a quaint train station where steam-engine trains arrive.

The Peak District
Arnold Clark Car Rental: I picked up a second rental car from the Arnold Clark office in Liverpool. I had requested an economy car (automatic) but when I got there, they were out, so they upgraded me to a Mercedes Benz Class-A at no extra charge. It was really a nice car, but the only problem was the gear shift was in the same location as the windshield wipers on my Subaru Outback. So I kept shifting into Neutral as I was driving for the first few days. But I do like Arnold Clark as they are always thorough, and go over the car thoroughly.

PUB LODGING: Bull’s Head Pub in Castleton. Bull’s Head Pub in Castleton. I enjoyed my stay here. There was a good-sized car park in the back, and the staff was very friendly. My room was really lovely with old-fashioned floral wallpaper, vintage looking light fixtures, a very comfortable bed, and a gorgeous view from the window. There was also a mini fridge, a heated towel rack, and a heated radiator (very nice for doing laundry). Breakfast was unusual. You had the option of ordering a continental breakfast the day before, and it was brought to your room that evening, or you could have breakfast at the cafe next door (owned by the pub) when it opened at 9 am in the morning. And of course, you could have lunch or dinner in the pub. The food was good with a pretty large and varied menu.

Castleton: I walked all over the place and couldn’t believe how picturesque this tiny village was. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, and Winnats Pass was just up the road. It was so lush and yet very rugged. I felt like I'd stepped back in time. And as small as it was, there was a decent selection of restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels. It was a good base as most places were fairly close to Castleton. I would definitely stay here again.

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Lyme Park: This wasn’t technically in The Peak, but I stopped on the way from Liverpool. Lyme Park is a National Trust property and was the filming location for Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” The house, which was huge, was quite beautiful but the gardens were worth a trip in itself. There was a beautiful lake, which gave a sense of tranquility to the landscape, and geese swimming happily in it. There were woodlands with picturesque walking trails and paths wandering through the old trees.

Winnats Pass: This is a limestone gorge with very steep cliffs and a narrow valley. As you drive through the pass, you are surrounded by towering limestone walls covered with green that rise dramatically on either side of you. It’s really awe-inspiring, and I could see it from my room at the pub. It was close enough to walk to so one day I joined the other hikers, and made my way up into the hills. The scenery was gorgeous, and it was really a fun hike.

St. John the Baptist Church in Tideswell: A 14th century church built during the time of the Black Death, it was filled with a rich history, with some gorgeous wood carvings inside, and two effigies of a local landowner and his wife from around the time it was built.

Eyam: This is a picturesque village known for its role in the outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1665. According to legend, Eyam made a decision to quarantine the village to prevent the spread of the disease to neighboring communities. It has a museum dedicated to the plague, and quite a few houses have memorials that state the names of prior residents who died from the plague. There were also a few graves marking plague victims in the courtyard.

Saint Michael and All Angels Church in Hathersage: Supposedly this is where Friar John of Robin Hood fame was buried, so I couldn’t pass that up. The site of his grave was in the courtyard, with a plaque marking the spot, but the original headstone was inside the church porch, sitting on a bench.

Buxton: Buxton was a nice larger town, although I really didn’t stop here for long. I wanted to see the Opera House, which was gorgeously ornate and really lovely. And I discovered that next to the building was an entrance to a conservatory that was part of the Pavillion Gardens. It was a very pretty conservatory and a nice respite from the rain. But the best part was the really nice cafe at the end, where I had a delicious cream tea.

Hartington: This was another picturesque village I fell in love with. It was very quaint and looked like it had not changed for hundreds of years. I can imagine that if there were no cars here, someone could stroll into this town and mistake themselves for being in the 16th or 17th century. While I was there, I visited the Hartington Cheese Shop, which is renowned for its wonderful selections of local cheeses, and bought 5 of them, which were wonderfully tasty. I also finally got my Sunday roast here at the Charles Cotton Hotel here in town. It was very good and well worth the wait.

Chatsworth House: Wow, this house was amazing. The ticket was expensive (£31.50), but it was worth it. Every room was simply magnificent. I was very surprised at the number of notable paintings I saw with no identification. One was a Rembrandt, and there was another by John Singer Sargent (both unmarked). I found it strange that they had no label with the artist’s name. If I wasn’t familiar with both artists, I probably would have passed them by. The gardens outside were just as grand, albeit a bit more eclectic. It is definitely a must-see place.

Bakewell: I planned to stop here on the way back from Chatsworth, and did, but left rather quickly as it was Market Day, and the crowds were overwhelming. I did stop for a Bakewell Pudding at the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, and it was just as delicious as I remembered.

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Peveril Castle: This is a ruined 11th-century castle that sits above Castleton, and I kept trying to visit it. Unfortunately every day I went, there were high winds and it was closed. But I think it would be worth a visit if you can take the very steep hike up to it.

Rain: It rained a lot while I was in The Peak District, and while I tried not to let it stop me from seeing places I wanted to visit, sometimes I was forced to vacate a few sites. One my last day in The Peak, I drove to Tissington, which was a tiny village I had accidentally stopped at back in 1996. It was (and still is) owned by the Fitzherbert family. The people who live in the village pay rent to the owners. Back when I was there, it was a few small houses, the Manor House, and a small craft shop. Now it’s built up and is known as a wedding venue. It was fun to visit, though, and they had a nice cafe.

Unfortunately, when I left for Ashbourne, the rain got worse and when I drove down near the end of the road before turning onto the A515 road, I found it completely flooded. So I turned back and headed to Castleton. The winds were pretty rough by this time, too, so it was very nice to get back to my snug cozy room.

Yorkshire
SELF-CATERING COTTAGE: Laskill Grange in North Yorkshire
. I rented a stone cottage in an area called Laskill Grange, about 8 minutes from Helmsley, for a week. The cottage had a really cute living room with an electric fireplace, a TV, dining area, kitchen, and a large bedroom with a king size bed. There was no washer but there were several radiators for drying. The best thing were the gorgeous views all around me. Taking walks there in the morning and evening was one of my favorite things to do.

Dark Sky Status: The North Yorkshire Moors is only one of a small number of places in the world to receive International Dark Sky Reserve status. These are areas that offer exceptional starry nights and are scientifically protected. The first night I went outside to test the “Dark Skyes,” and it’s true. The skies were so dark that the stars and moon were almost luminescent. It was beautiful to see. Northumberland is another one on the list.

Grassington: This was a very lovely and picturesque village with lots of cafes, shops and restaurants to choose from. I will say my primary motive for visiting was to see some of the places used in the filming of All Creatures Great and Small, but it’s definitely worth a visit in its own right.

Bolton Castle: This was another favorite castle; mostly because I got to see a falconry presentation that was really fascinating. But the castle itself was well worth a visit, and there is a lot of history here. Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here for a time.

Middleham Castle: These were interesting ruins to me as I like Richard III, and this was his “home” and favorite castle. There wasn’t really a lot to see here, as most of the castle is gone, but if you are interested in Richard III or are nearby, it’s worth a stop.

Saint Mary and St. Alkelda Church: This is the parish church in Middleham. I stopped because I was sure that I would find the body of Edward, son of Richard III who died at Middleham Castle when he was 10, and whose body was never found. Sadly, I didn’t trip over it, but I did see a replica of the Middleham Jewel on display here (the real one is in a York museum).

Black Sheep Brewery in Masham: Great place for beer and food. Very nice building with lots of space and light inside, and a very tasty Welsh Rarebit and ale. The brewery was playing a lot of American style music like bluegrass and acoustic rock. I love both genres, and with the music, the beer, and the fries, I could have been convinced I was back in the US

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Helmsley: This town was about 8 minutes from the cottage, and I loved it. If I hadn’t found the cottage, I think this would be a very good base for North Yorkshire, as it’s in a central location, and a decent size town but still really easy to drive through. There are some nice hotels, restaurants and cafes in town, and it has a Market Day every Friday. There are 2 good size car parks in town—one short-term in the city center and the Cleveland Way car park near the entrance to Helmsley Castle that is long-term. The city center car park is closed on Market Day. One restaurant I really liked was Number Twelve, which had wonderful food, but also great cakes and really nice cream tea. There was also some good shopping, and if you visit Browns of Helmsley (there is also a Browns in York), you will find a lovely selection of Roka bags (minus the one I bought).

St. Gregory's Minster in Kirkwood: If anyone likes really old historic churches, you will relish this one. St. Gregory's was built in the year 1060 on the site of an earlier church. It’s worth visiting just to see the sundial, which dates back to 1055 AD and was discovered during a renovation in the late 18th century. The sundial commemorates the rebuilding of the earlier church by Orm, son of Gamal. Orm was probably a descendant of Vikings who settled this region in the late 9th century. There are many other historic gems inside, and it’s in a lovely and quiet location.

World of James Herriot Museum: If you’re a fan of the show(s) or the books, it’s definitely worth a visit. Thirsk is a large market town and is a fun place to visit anyway, but the museum is a nice one. It’s located in the same place where Alf White (aka JH) practiced, and has a lot of detail about his life and the books.

Hutton-le-Hole: This is a very quaint little village near Helmsley. The town is charming and very old (it was listed in the Domesday book of 1086). It is also the home of the Ryedale Folk Museum, which was truly a gem. The museum was set up to look like a village and consists of historic buildings moved from the Ryedale area and reassembled on the site. You can explore traditional thatched cottages, workshops, barns, and other structures, each one of them furnished to depict different periods of rural life. It was similar to the Vogtsbauernhof open-air museum I went to several years ago in the Black Forest in Germany.

If you visit and have a problem finding parking, you could park next door at The Crown pub, have lunch there and then head over to the folk museum. As long as you purchase something at the pub, they don’t mind you parking there. That’s what I did. The lunch was good and the beer even better.

Rievaulx Abbey: Do not miss this place if you can help it. It began as a Cistercian monastery, was founded in 1132 and settled by a group of monks from France. It was stripped of its assets by Henry III’s Dissolution and left to decline. But the ruins are magnificent and of course the history only enhances its appeal. I spent hours there, exploring the extensive ruins, which include the remains of the church, cloister, and chapter house. It is an English Heritage property, and there is a nice cafe and gift shop there as well.

RSPB at Bempton Cliffs: I added this to my itinerary at the last minute, because the weather was gorgeous one day after several days of rain. The RSPB location at Bempton Cliffs was on the coast overlooking the North Sea. Hundreds of thousands of sea birds gather in this area between March and August to breed, mate, and survive. Once I arrived and walked down the boardwalk to the cliffs, I saw thousands of birds swooping in and out between the cliffs, and many more nesting. There were puffins, gannets, guillemots and many more varieties. It was a wonderful experience and also a lovely drive there.

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St Hilda's Church at Ellerburn: This is a tiny church that is almost 1200 years old and tucked away in an idyllic setting. Some parts of the church went as far as 850 AD, and others added in 1050. It was a charming little church with so much history inside. After I visited the church, I found a pleasant path in a beautiful setting in a wooded valley to walk along. There was a small stream running alongside and some old stone cottages nearby. It was a lovely walk and the only sounds around were of birds chirping.

Pickering: This was a nice town and I enjoyed walking through it, but I mainly came to visit St. Peter and St. Paul Church, which has some beautiful medieval painted frescoes from the mid-1400’s covering the walls of the church. They were covered up at some point but rediscovered again around 1850, only to be hidden again by a conservative vicar who was appalled by the Catholic imagery. Luckily, wiser heads prevailed and after that, they were restored and now adorn the church.

Stranded in York: I took the Reliance 31X bus from Helsmley to York, as I was getting tired of driving, so I parked in the long term car park, and got the 9:20 am bus there. It worked out well, and dropped me off at Exhibition Station around 10:35 am. I went to York back in 1996 but really wanted to see York Minster again, and it was as breathtakingly beautiful as I remembered. The church, the crypt and above all, the Chapter House. Everything was magnificent. And of course York is such an interesting walled city. I mostly wandered around visiting The Shambles, a medieval street lined with shops and boutiques, the city gates and enjoying the atmosphere. By the way, I found the original Browns store, and bought another Roka bag, this one a smaller backpack. I also found lunch at a cafe called Lucky Days and ordered a chicken and chorizo panini with chili sauce that came with three different salads, and all were wonderful. It was a very nice change from pub food.

But here’s where the “stranded” part came in. I went back to the bus station to catch the 4 pm 31X bus back to Helmsley. But it wasn’t listed on the electronic board so I got nervous and asked a Reliance bus driver where it was. Evidently the 4 pm bus (and last bus of the day) does not run when school is in session. When I heard that, I sort of freaked out a bit, but luckily a woman came up and asked if she could help. I explained it and she jumped on her phone and started checking around. She said my best bet to get back to Helmsley was to get a train to Thirsk, and then either a bus to Helmsley or a cab.

And that’s what happened. I walked 15 minutes to the York train station, and caught a train for Thirsk that was leaving in about 10 minutes. Upon arriving, I had to walk 30 minutes to the Thirsk city center (there were no taxis at the station) where I found a single cab driver who drove me to Helmsley. It cost £32.40, which I rounded up to £35, but it was money well spent. I was so happy to get in my car and head back to my cozy cottage. Next time I will read the fine print on the bus timetable!

I took the next day off from sightseeing and used it to take a walk, have lunch in Helmsley and recover from my tragic experience.

Northumberland
B&B: The Bakehouse in Seahouses
. I stayed at a B&B called The Bakehouse in Seahouses. The B&B was right in town and a very short walk down to the harbor. My room was nice and very spacious. The bathroom is across the hall, but it’s all enclosed in a suite no one else can access. There is a small mini fridge, TV, kettle, coffee and tea, and snacks. The bathroom was very nice as well and has a nice deep tub. Downstairs is a lovely common area where you can hang out, read, watch TV or whatever. The B&B is owned by Julie, a local artist who was very friendly and accommodating. Breakfast was included, which was delicious

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Durham Cathedral: I stopped here on the way from Yorkshire. It was easy to get to, as there is a huge multi-floor car park nearby. I was amazed at its size and beauty. It was constructed between 1093 and 1133 and was a lot different from York, although they are both Gothic cathedrals. However, Durham is an earlier English Gothic style, with massive pillars and rounded arches. There is a lot of history here; for example, the cathedral houses the tombs of The Venerable Bede, and St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne fame. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, it was used for filming several of the HP movies. But it’s worth a visit in its own right.

Seahouses: Seahouses is a small coastal town in Northumberland, with no airs about it. There are a number of boats based here that go out to the Farne Islands. Unfortunately it was very windy while I was there, and the boats were not making the trip out there. But it was nice to walk along the shoreline and look at the water. Everyone in the town was friendly, and there were some interesting shops around (including one that had so many Roka bags, I had to force myself to leave).

Black Swan: This gastropub was right up the street from my B&B and was wonderful. The building was in an old stone building but very modern looking inside, and the menu looked amazing. I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio, and pan-seared scallops in a smoked Northumberland cheese sauce with bacon and spinach. The scallops were to die for. I couldn’t believe how good the dish was.

Alnwick Castle: It was certainly large and very impressive from the outside. But I wasn’t crazy about it and felt like I’d wasted my money. It was an imposing castle, but a lot of what they did was promote the fact that it had been a filming location for various movies, and pushed a lot of their own themed tours, so it was really hard to go off on your own, which I like to do. And they don’t allow photography inside, which was not mentioned.

Barter Books: I loved this bookstore in Alnwick! It’s a quirky secondhand bookstore in an old train station, with fireplaces, armchairs, a reading room, model trains and a café. The store was amazing, and the atmosphere was so fun. Books are for sale, but you can also bring in some of your own and barter them for books from the store (hence the name). There were lots of dogs laying on the floor next to their owners, kids watching the train go around overhead, and just the general good vibe of people who love to read. They have a nice cafe also.

Bamburgh Castle: As much as I disliked Alnwick Castle, I loved Bamburgh Castle, which was really amazing. For one thing it was huge. When I was approaching the castle from the road and caught my first glimpse of it, I gasped at the immense size, and once inside, there was an incredible view from the top. Some of the rooms had a lot of newer (but beautiful) items like expensive china and such, which typically doesn’t interest me that much. But the rooms were still gorgeous and I loved the unique look of everything. It is owned by the Armstrong family, who also own Cragside (more on that later). The gift shop was very nice, with a great selection of items, including free tastings of Lindisfarne Mead.

Holy Island/Lindisfarne: Holy island, also known as Lindisfarne, which is one of the very important centers of early English Christianity. An Irish monk named Saint Aiden was sent from the Scottish island of Iona to Northumberland in 634 AD and founded a monastery. Getting to Holy Island requires some planning, though, as the causeway that connects the island to the mainland is cut off twice a day by fast, incoming tides. So once you get here, you’re staying for a while. But that was fine

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There is a car park on Holy Island once you get over the causeway and farther into the island. Everyone parks there and then walks to the sights (not a long walk).. I visited Lindisfarne Priory and the museum next to it, which are ruins maintained by English Heritage, and the ruins were very interesting. I also walked up to a fairly recent excavation site on the hill above that was gorgeous, with beautiful views of the sea and coast. Other sites included St Mary the Virgin Church, which is the oldest building on the island and includes sections from the Saxon period, Lindisfarne Castle, which is a Henry VII fortress turned holiday home, and Lindisfarne Mead, which makes mead and many other liquors.

By the way, while I was there, I found St. Cuthbert’s Center, which is a great place to go if you need a toilet or free wifi. Seriously, it’s a lovely little building managed by the United Reformed Church on Holy Island. Not every building has a toilet (as I found out), so it was a great place to use the toilet, and just sit for a while and relax. Everyone is welcome. I was the only one there when I walked it and it was a very comfortable place.

Heading back off the island, I left about 20 minutes before the tide tables recommended, but there were cars ahead of me, and it was no problem leaving. It was weird seeing the ocean lapping at the side of the road as I drove by, though.

Heading to Haltwhistle (Hadrian’s Wall): After leaving Seahouses, I drove to Haltwhistle so I could visit the Hadrian’s Wall sites, although I planned to stop at Cragside on the way. I took back roads instead of the main highway and I don’t think I’ve ever had a more peaceful and lovely drive. The sun was out, the scenery was gorgeous and I could see sheep for miles and miles. Also it was lambing season and all the lambs were following their mothers around.

Cragside: What a beautiful place! As you drive in, the first thing you see is a deeply wooded area, with a shimmering deep blue lake at the bottom of the hill, and a large ornate house tucked between the trees.The house is not terribly historic, but very interesting. It was built in the late 1800s by Lord William Armstrong (owner of Bamburgh Castle), who was an engineer and a visionary, the inventor of modern artillery and the first scientist in the House of Lords. The house was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, which is generated from the five lakes surrounding the property. The rooms were really lovely and a lot of care was taken in the displays. There were also some fascinating displays of his scientific experiments. The property has over 40 miles of walking paths with lovely gardens throughout. It is definitely worth going out of your way for.

B&B: Old School House in Haltwhistle. This place was just delightful! I heard about it from wasleys, and it’s definitely a wonderful place to stay. I had a very charming single room (w/ extra wide bed), dresser, lovely window, TV and private bath. The double rooms were ensuite. Everything was pristine and looked very new. They told me later that when they bought the place, they did a huge renovation.There is a laundry room that guests are allowed to use at no extra charge (washer + heated drying rack). And there is a very large common area with lots of comfy seating, TV, tons of books, and travel maps.

Kate also left some kind of homemade pastry or cake in each guests’ room each day for a snack, ranging from walnut cake, to a chocolate muffin. Kate and Ian will also drive guests who have no car to wherever they need to go. A lot of their visitors are walking the Wall, so they drive them to the next section. Breakfast (which is cooked by Ian) was included and was delicious. And there is parking available on the property. I would highly recommend this place

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All the guests here were very down to earth and friendly. I met a woman named Sarah from Stratford, Ontario, who was here with her husband, who was walking the Wall. We really hit it off and because they were traveling by bus, I offered to take her with me sightseeing the next day. After that, I would drop her off at her next hotel where she was meeting her husband. They used a company to transport their luggage to each place, but were responsible for getting themselves there. It was nice for me to have company.

The Black Bull: This pub in Haltwhistle has been around for awhile, and I had a nice meal here. The beer was good (I relied on the recommendation of the guy standing next to me at the bar) and the steak and ale pie was delicious. Everyone was very friendly around here, and I had no problems striking up conversations.

The Manor House: Another friendly pub in Haltwhistle, with very good food. This time I ordered the chicken and leek pie (I do like meat pies), which was very tasty, and another ale (the server brought me 3 samples to try). I spent most of the time talking to two sisters sitting near me with a dog. They lived about an hour away but periodically come to Haltwhistle for the day.

Vindolanda: Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort just south of Hadrian's Wall. Archaeological excavations show it was under Roman occupation from around 85 AD to 370 AD. It was amazing seeing these foundations out there that showed a community of people and soldiers, who worked together and lived together almost 2000 years ago. Afterward, I took a lovely walk down to the museum, where among other things, I saw a few of the Vindolanda tablets, which are the second oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain.

Housesteads Roman Fort: This is a National Trust property and climbing up here will fulfill your exercise requirements for a whole day! It was quite a steep climb but worth it, as it is one of the most complete examples of a Roman fort in the UK. It was built around 120 AD, when work on the Wall began. The communal latrines were pretty fascinating and were sophisticated for that time, with pipes that carried the waste downhill.

Meet up with Stuart (isn31c): Both Sarah and I wanted to visit Birdoswald so I arranged with Stuart from the forum to meet up nearby. She and I stopped on our way there at Greenhead and found Stuart waiting by the side of the road. It was so nice to put a face to a name. He, Sarah and I spent time at Birdoswald, Lanercost Priory and then I dropped Sarah off, and the two of us went to Hexham Abbey. It was such a treat having Stuart with me.

Birdoswald: At Birdoswald, we met up with Sarah’s husband, who had just arrived. Before we went out, we stopped at the English Heritage center and watched a video that showed a reenactment of what the wall and forts might have looked like back then. The wall originally stretched for 73 miles, and was as high as 15 feet in places. And the site was very impressive. An extra bonus is that Birdoswald sits on a huge cliff overlooking gorgeous scenery below. The views southward from the cliff edge to the hills beyond were stunning.

Lanercost Priory: I just love ruins, so seeing this was wonderful. We left Sarah’s husband to continue his walk, and the three of us visited Lanercost Priory, which was nearby. The priory was designed to serve as a religious community and provide hospitality to travelers and pilgrims. The architecture was both Norman and Gothic, and the builders used a number of stones from Hadrian’s Wall. Some well known visitors included Edward I, who spent 6 months there in 1306, and Robert the Bruce, then King of Scotland. It was really a lovely place, as was the church.

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Hexham Abbey: After dropping Sarah off, Stuart and I drove to Hexham, about a 40 minute drive. Having him along was very handy, as he knew exactly where the car park was, and where to walk to the abbey. Hexham Abbey is very beautiful. It was founded in 674 AD by Bishop (later Saint) Wilfrid. The Saxon crypt still remains from the original church, as well as a frith stool, which was an 8th century throne made of stone. But after a Danish plunder, the Abbey was expanded in the 12th century. When we left, we made our way back to the car park, and Stuart headed off to catch his bus. We had tentative plans to meet the next morning in Carlisle, but I told him that my plans were iffy as I had to return my rental car and wasn’t sure how long that would take.

Train from Carlisle to Oxford: I needed to return my car to the Arnold Clark office here, and got there shortly before 8 am. Unfortunately, the paperwork took much longer than anticipated (probably because there was a small dent in the car), and my train was leaving at 9:10 am. from the station. One of the employees there drove me over, taking side streets to avoid the congestion, and pulled up at the station at 9:07 am. I scrambled out and ran into Stuart, who was waiting for me. He quickly walked to my platform and showed me where the train was. I’m not sure I would have made it without him. But I got on, waved goodbye frantically to Stuart and was soon on my way in a lovely uncrowded train to Oxford, with a brief stopover at Birmingham New Street.

HOTEL: Courtyard by Marriott Oxford City Centre. What can I say? It was a Marriot that was conveniently located to the city center, and a short walk from the train station. I stayed here because I had a free night. The room was nice and comfy, and the staff was pleasant and efficient. Breakfast was extra and a bit pricey so I opted to eat elsewhere.

Oxford: Such a gorgeous city! As it was, I only had one night, and didn’t arrive till mid-afternoon. So the best I could hope for was to walk around the city and absorb the atmosphere. And that’s what I did. Oxford was wonderful and the architecture is jaw-dropping at times. There were lovely gardens and buildings and interesting shops. I could easily spend a week here and not get tired of it.

The Turf Tavern: After several hours, I started looking for a dinner place, and I wanted something historical. The Eagle and Child was still closed, the Lamb and Flag only served bar snacks, so I headed for the Turf Tavern, which dates back to the 13th century and has hosted many famous people over the years. It was an odd little building down an alleyway and was composed of a number of small rooms, all attached by doors and winding alleys. The rooms had wooden beams, low ceilings, and uneven stone floors but it all added to the charm. The menu was basic pub food, but the burger and fries I had were good, along with the ale.

Gloucester Green Market: This street market is every Wednesday, so I was able to stop by. It had a wonderful display of many different foods, mostly ethnic, and stalls selling other things as well. I ate breakfast and lunch here, and the food was wonderful..

Ashmolean Museum: I had not planned to visit here but Rebecca (from Nashville) told me how wonderful it was. She was right. The museum itself was gorgeous, with stately pillars and huge glass spaces inside, and the collection was just amazing. There were rooms filled with nothing but Egyptian statues, tombs and mummies. Another with beautiful paintings. I saw Kabuki costumes, ancient texts written in Cuneiform, gorgeous decorative furniture, the Alfred jewel, ordered by Alfred the Great around the late 800s, and so much more. There was a nice cafe and an interesting gift shop, although by now, I was pretty shopped out (can you imagine?).

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The Airport Bus from Oxford to Heathrow: After checking out at the Marriott, I walked over to the Gloucester Green bus station and got in line to board the Oxford Airline Bus, which goes straight to Heathrow. Soon I paid my £25 and we were on the road. The trip took about 90 minutes. The first stop was at Terminal 5, and the next one was at the Central Bus Station for Terminals 2 and 3. That’s where I got off.

Since I was leaving from Terminal 4, I went to get my free train ticket then found the correct train (after a bit of a kerfuffle). Once I got off, I started looking for signs to the hotels. I was staying at the Holiday Inn Express, attached to Terminal 4, and there is a long tunnel that takes you to the hotel from the terminal. Luckily, the signage was excellent and I just kept following the signs for hotels, and specifically for the Holiday Inn Express. Soon I was walking through a very large metal tunnel that led to my hotel. There were signs along the way letting me know I was on the right route, which I appreciated.

HOTEL: Holiday Inn Express. I stayed at a HIX at Glasgow airport last year, and found them quite comfortable for a good price, so I was happy to find out that Heathrow had one. The room was nice, with a very comfortable bed. The hotel is connected to another IHG hotel, the Crown Royal Plaza, and everything was very open. There were two restaurants, one a bit more casual, and one that was more formal. I opted for the casual and had the chicken makhani with a glass of wine. Both were good. But the hotel did not open for breakfast till 5 am, and I needed to leave by 4, so they ordered a breakfast bag for me. Most of it I ditched, as I couldn’t take the water bottle or the juice box through security, and I don’t like granola bars. I kept the croissant and the mandarin orange.

Heathrow Airport and the flight home: Once I got to Terminal 4, I went to check my bag. Unfortunately the agents were having problems booting up the system, so they suggested people start using the auto check-in. I was near one, so was the first one to use it. It was very easy. I just scanned my boarding pass and passport then took the label it spit out and wrapped it around my bag's handle and sealed it. I then put it on an automated drive that took the bag away.

Once I got out to the lobby, I had to wait as they weren’t announcing gates till 15 minutes before boarding. I was a little worried because some of the gates were 15 minutes or so away. But I noticed a sign saying that there was an Assistance Desk nearby. I walked over and asked the man sitting at the desk about the gate for my flight. I was pleasantly surprised when he promptly told me my flight would be at Gate 10. It made things much easier, so I grabbed a cup of coffee and found my way there. Shortly afterward, we boarded and the KLM flight made an easy ride to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, where I had a 4 hour layover.

And that’s when things went wrong and I found out my flight to MSP was canceled by Delta (mechanical errors). I’m not going into a ton of details as I posted something about it here, and it’s also on the blog. In a nutshell, I was rebooked on a 5:20 pm flight that got me home at 11 pm that night. Within 3 days, I received a refund from Delta for the Comfort+ seat, plus 16,000 miles and a $643 check for the EU law compensation.

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A couple of thoughts about this trip:

1) I took it much easier than previous trips. This was the longest trip I've taken and I sometimes got tired of sightseeing, so I learned not to feel guilty if I cut back my itinerary or chopped off whole days. I figure I needed it. As TexasTravelMom calls it, it's a vacation from your vacation. I especially did that after the York fiasco, but also on my birthday in London, and everything worked out! I did have some great support from my friends on Facebook who were reading the blog as I posted it each day, and supporting my changes.

2) I learned to plot roads out on Google Maps ahead of time. This really helped me in Yorkshire, as the route Google took me was single track, through very heavily wooded areas with very high drop offs. Somewhat scary for me, but when I pulled up GM on my laptop and looked, I realized that I could get to the same place using a different (and much better) road that only added 3 minutes.

I will be posting a Packing Report and a Technology report that will include Wanderlog. Coming soon! And as I mentioned, there is a more detailed account with lots of photos at https://mostlytraveled.wordpress.com

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I haven't finished your report yet, but wanted to comment that I saw Billy Crudup in Harry Clarke at Berkeley Rep In December, and I agree that he was amazing! What a great birthday treat. Now I'll go back to reading.

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Barbara, that's so cool! I just loved it. And I found out that Sarah, the woman I met in Haltwhistle, was going to see it when she and her husband made their way to London.

periscope, that one looks pretty incredible, but I don't think it's the same one. This one had a hardened sugar/caramel crust on top like a creme brulee. Here's my photo of it: https://photos.app.goo.gl/YniWsBAedVgLysQy6

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You should write a book. Quality information like this from such a seasoned traveller deserves to be seen. Self-publishing is a lot easier these days than it used to be.

I'm always pleased when someone has a good experience with Arnold Clark. I had a very close relationship with them when I worked in advertising in Glasgow years ago. Good people. Some of my biggest regrets are not taking them up on the offer of a day out on Drum, Sir Arnold's yacht, which used to belong to Simon LeBon of Duran Duran, and turning down the offer of a ride in the Arnold Clark sponsored "Eye in The Sky" traffic helicopter. My mum's bought several new cars from them in the last 25 years and always been happy.

I'm sure I'll end up reading this a good few more times over the coming days. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you saw a lot.

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Gerry, thanks so much! That is very kind of you to say. And that's pretty interesting about Arnold Clark! Glad to know they are respected by the local people. That boat would have been cool, too!

Tom, jeez, leap of faith is right! Can you imagine? Interesting article, though.

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Mardee: Thanks for the excellent review of your Trip. It was a great update for me to see how things are since the last time I was there. It was wonderful that you could make some connections with Forum Friends. I'm recovering from a hip replacement so I'll have to wait a while before I can fly away again. Kathleen

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Wow I’ve only read this in parts but having just gotten back from York and the Dales, I can’t wait to read the whole thing. So much info and inspiration for our next trip to the UK. Thank for for taking the time to share!

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Mardee, what a wonderful trip report! Thanks for taking the time to write it.
I have enjoyed reading it!!
Simply an amazing trip!
Well-researched and well-planned...you are the planning queen!
I totally agree that sometimes you have to take a vacation from your vacation and just chill out and rest for one day.
I try to build in "rest stops" for every trip we take.
That is something new since we both got older.
It helps in the long run.
Thanks again for the great trip report!
Best wishes and I hope you are fully recovered from jet lag.

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Mardee, thank you for all the work you put into this wonderfully detailed trip report! I couldn’t resist gobbling it up in one sitting, but I know I’ll be returning to digest it more fully.

I don’t drive, so it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get to many of the spots you visited, but your descriptions made me feel like I was there with you. I especially enjoyed hearing about your encounters with other forum regulars and the new friends you made along the way.

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6832 posts

Kathleen, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And yes, it was great meeting up with everyone! I hope your recovery goes smoothly and quickly!

Indyhiker, thanks! Isn't the UK great? I can't wait to go back myself!

Rebecca, ha, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to slow down. It is nice and it feels good that I gave myself permission to take it easier. :-)

Nancy, thanks so much! That means a lot to me.

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1243 posts

Wow, you are inspiring me to head out on my own to places I have not visited. I recently learned that my ancestry is in Cornwall. I will re-read your report with great interest. Thanks!

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343 posts

Mardee, I started reading your report a few days ago and just finished. So well done. And so incredibly fun to see the beautiful pictures and read about your trip! Did I miss you saying what you used to take them? Phone or camera? They are awesome! I particularly enjoyed the information and experiences regarding York, Northumberland and Holy Island especially! I loved reading about your meetups with the wonderful Nigel ( and his better half) and Stuart. That’s just too cool. I’m so sorry for the mishap in York. I would have probably cried and looked like a little kid who was lost. So nice to know there are caring people who can find it in themselves to reach out and help strangers. I am also sorry you lost your $10 32 Degree puffer jacket! I went out and bought two when you enabled me when you saw them at Costco. If I see them next fall here, I’ll make sure to alert you first! Or even buy you one and mail it to Minnesota!

Thanks so much for sharing all of your trip with us. I know it was something you’ll never forget! You seem to want to live life to the fullest and I respect the heck out of that! Get some rest… the next trip you’ll have company with some youngins, right?

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33130 posts

Gee wiz, I've just spent the morning reading this. I'm glad that after we met up you went your way when we went home - I would never in a month of Sundays been able to keep up with you!!!!

So glad that your lemons became lemonade and you had such a great time. My head would have exploded if you had shown me that donut in the flesh!!! Did you only get through that first bite?

This is going to be my reference document for this summer's wandering with my lovely wife. You have been to so many places on this sceptred isle that I who call it home have not. In your footsteps, Mardee!!

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2733 posts

Mardee, As you know, I read your blog during your trip, and I am still missing it now that you are home. If I get back to England, I will use your report to help plan the trip. There are so many great suggestions on towns to visit, places to stay, and places to eat. Thanks for sharing!

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6832 posts

Claudia, thank you! That means a lot from someone who has spent so much time in England!

Debbie, that's so cool! Most of my ancestors are from Germany, the Netherlands, Alsace and Ireland. You should definitely investigate that. 2 years ago I spent 4 nights at a small town in Germany where my great-great-great grandfather came from and found so much info.

Mustlovedogs, I used an iPhone 14 for the photos. I'm thinking of upgrading to a 15 soon, as I've heard the photo capability is much better. And thanks for all your thoughts! I'll be honest, I shed a few tears in York, which was probably why the woman approached me. Oy! And thanks for the offer on the jacket, but like you, I had bought two of them, lol! So I still have one left. And yes, next year I will have 2 grandkids with me! They are getting very excited! Your trip is coming up soon, isn't it?

Nigel, your words mean so much to me. And believe me, I could not have done it without your help! I hope you have a wonderful time traveling this summer. I would love to hear about the places you visit! And please give Carol my regards.

Carroll, thanks so much! How did the rest of your trip go?

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538 posts

Absolute gold, Mardee. Thank you so much for sharing; your blogs will be immensely helpful as we plan for 5 weeks in the UK this summer.

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558 posts

It was so lovely to meet you, Mardee. I’m in awe of your travels, and also your wonderful attitude to it.

Your blog is excellent and I think everyone coming to the UK should bookmark it!

I do love meeting travellers so for those who find themselves passing through Plymouth, I’m always happy to help with advice - or coffee - even if I’m not much in the forum at the moment. I pop back every so often…

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9776 posts

My goodness. This is a truly mind-boggling, detailed-yet-stand back trip report ! And to think this is the second time you have written it up ! It’s really generous of you to provide such detail and helpful hints.

Your blog really made me want to go all these places. As Gerry said, your writing is so nicely done. What a gift to the rest of us !

Thanks to for your other post with your write up of Wanderlog. I have downloaded the app. Now if i just had a trip to plan !! Hahahahahaha

Welcome home and thank you again for going to such great care to put together a comprehensive and entertaining trip report. Bookmarking for sure !!

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6625 posts

Thanks for this amazing report of an amazing long trip. Your energy and resilience put me to shame. And I liked the blog a lot too. Weather is a predictable hazard of the season you chose, but I'm sure the tradeoffs were less crowding and more flowers.

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60 posts

Mardee, this is awesome! I wish I would've been following your blog during your travels. Can I be your travel buddy? Lol Great pictures too!

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3307 posts

Mardee, I am on my own travels now, with limited internet, but hope to read your report at the airport in Miami on my 5 hr layover.

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366 posts

Thank you for the wonderful trip report, it was truly a joy to read! I loved it all, but the London portion was particularly relevant, because my daughter and I will be visiting London in a few weeks, and will be staying at the Premier Inn County Hall. We stayed there last spring and really liked the location and the price. She will be turning 15 the day after we arrive. We will definitely try Gail's Bakery and we already have reservations for The Parlour at Fortnum and Mason's.

Thank you for a lovely read!

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4241 posts

We're throwing around the idea of a London to Bamburgh trip next year so I've bookmarked your report. You stopped at a few Hadrians Wall locations, were they reasonably close together that it can be done in a day or do you recommend 2 days?

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14163 posts

Noone has mentioned this but did your PI bathroom have a drain in the center of the floor? Sometimes the water will evaporate and let sewer gas back up the pipe. It can sometimes be solved with a couple of glasses of water poured down the drain.

Now I am laughing because I just got to this statement: "I took it much easier than previous trips." My word...you must have been a whirling dervish before!

I love how you broke things down as it was easy to read and digest the information.

What fun meeting forum folks in person!

Wow...I just loved your trip - both reading along on your blog and now a recap. What a great time you had! Thanks for taking the time to write this up and post! Great reading!

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6832 posts

jphbucks, thanks so much! Oh wow, that will be wonderful spending 5 weeks in the summer. I'll bet it will be absolutely gorgeous!

Golden Girl, it was lovely to meet you, too! And I'm so grateful for the recommendations you gave me! And thank you for your kind words!

Kim, you are so sweet—thank you! Ha, yes, it is nice to have a trip to plan! I don't know what I'm going to do with myself until I can start planning the next one, lol!

Dick, thanks so much for your thoughts. I do find it funny that you think I have energy. I always feel like I should be doing more. :-) Yes, that was the beautify of this trip. I really don't like crowds and it was such a pleasure to enjoy the UK without stepping over other travelers' feet.

Ginger, thank you! Yes, I love travel buddies!!! The more, the merrier!

Thanks, Tammy! I hope your trip is going well—I can't wait to hear more about Cuba!!!

MaryC, thank you so much! Oh wow, that's so fun that you will be staying there! It really is a great location! I'm taking my grandkids there next year (boy who will be 15 and girl who will be 11), so would love to hear your thoughts about London with kids!

Allan, that would be a fantastic trip. A lot of the HW places are close together, although ideally 2 days would be best, which is what I had. Vindolanda and Housesteads Roman Fort are within minutes of each other, and The Sill is close by. Corbridge Roman Wall, which I did not get to, is about 20 minutes from there, and Hexham Abbey, which is very interesting, is close to that. So you could easily do those on day 1, then head west of Haltwhistle (which is a good base, imo) and see Birdoswald, Lanercost Priory, and the Roman Army museum on day 2. But if you only have one day, I would stick with the sites east of Haltwhistle (i.e., Vindolanda and Housesteads, etc.)
ETA: Also, if you go to the sites to the east, you'll be closer to Bamburgh Castle. And don't miss Cragside on your way up there!

Pam, I do not remember, It might have, but good to know for future reference! Ha ha, well, you know me! I'm always wracked with guilt and feel like I should be doing more, lol!

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85 posts

I spent 5 weeks last fall/autumn traveling around England and North Wales but I never kept any notes. Reading your fun recap makes me wish I would have. After driving in the narrow bike trails- er, um, I mean roads- in Cornwall and Devon did you feel like you could tackle any driving challenge? That was my experience.

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5258 posts

Hi Mardee,
Wow, your trip sounds amazing!
Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
I truly enjoy your writing style and now I want to visit all those wonderful places, and eat all the yummy food you described!
I’ve never heard of a crème brûlée doughnut or a Bakewell tart, yum!
Lucky you, you got to meet Nigel and Mrs. Nigel, Golden Girl, and Stuart!

Happy belated birthday! :)

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2098 posts

Wow! What a wonderful trip you had. It seems like you didn’t let the weather bother you too much. I admire your ability to travel that long on your own. It was nice that you could meet up with several forum members as well.

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3299 posts

What a great trip report!

I visited Pendennis Castle way back in 2001 when we were staying in St. Mawes. I loved the tiny ferry between St. Mawes and Falmouth.

22 years later (!), we visited Alnwick Castle on a Rabbie's tour from Edinburgh. I have to say that I liked it better than you did. I wasn't all that interested in the interior, so maybe that helped.

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692 posts

I've got to take this in "small bites!" So far, very enjoyable.
The thing with cash vs. no cash--last year I found that most everyone in London wanted tap-and-pay, or a credit or debit card. I had a small amount of cash with me, and I spent it before my last day there. When the cab picked me up to take me to Victoria Station for my train to Lewes, the cab driver informed me that the satellite network that allowed the cabbies to take card payments was down. He had to stop at an ATM so I could get cash for him. Then, when I got to Lewes, I found that cash was perfectly acceptable.

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6832 posts

Greg, well, it definitely gave me some experience, and made driving easier after that. but really every part of the country is a little different, so there are always some challenges. I guess you just learn to roll with them. And I mentioned this above in my last comment about using Google Maps before I drove someplace to map things out, check out alternate routes, and so on. That was very helpful. And yes, ha ha - definitely bike trails sometimes!

Priscilla, thanks so much! And thanks for the birthday wishes! Yes, those treats were SO good! But it's good I don't eat them on a regular basis, lol!

Diane, well, I figured there wasn't much I could do about the weather, so might as well live with it. :-) Yes, it was great to meet up with people! And thanks!

Estimated Prophet, thanks so much! I loved Pendennis Castle. I really wanted to take the ferry to St. Mawes, but it was shut down almost the whole time I was there because of the weather. And I'm sure I'm in the minority about Alnwick Castle. I bet seeing it on a Rabbies tour made it more interesting, too.

SandraL, thanks so much! I know - sadly tap-and-pay can be subject to technological glitches and such. But I was happy it worked for me for the most part. At least you were able to get to an ATM to pay the cab driver!

Claudia, thank you very much!

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366 posts

Mardee, about London with kids, it really depends on the personality of the kids! The first time I came to England with them, it was 2018 and they were 14 and 9. My younger daughter just loved riding the tube and trains! We went to Wales and saw ancestral homes. They loved Wales. They liked castles, but my younger daughter got a little tired of cathedrals, ha ha!

We visited last year (14 and 19) and they were much more into shopping and seeing shows, so we did a lot of that! They are both into vintage stuff, and really like the street markets. We did the Portobello Rd market. This next trip it will just be me and my younger daughter (turning 15 while we're there!), and we're going to do the Brick Lane markets and the Portobello Rd market (but on a Friday this time). If anyone has any other suggestion, fire away! We're going to York for an overnight. When we get there we'll walk the walls and the Shambles and see what else we have time for. The next day we're doing an All Creatures Great and Small day tour and will come back to London on the train. That will be a long day. But I think it'll be worth it.

She still has her Oyster card from last year, and I have mine. She'll probably have to have the youngster discount added to it again. I'll just add money to mine.

We leave for London on May 24th, it's getting close and I'm getting excited!

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57 posts

Mardee, thank you so much for this wonderful trip report! It is such an enjoyable read. You visited several of the places I most enjoy in London and elsewhere — I agree 100% about Rievaulx Abbey, Durham Cathedral and Chatsworth. I envy you the chance to get to Lyme Park — it’s been on my “would like to visit” list ever since the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version of P&P debuted in the 90’s. Maybe someday! I hear you about sometimes needing a vacation from your vacation — I often travel solo and have learned over time that a slower day now and then is really helpful. And sometimes the places I wandered to and the people I met on the slower days have been highlights of the trip. Anyway, many thanks again for the great trip report!

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6832 posts

MaryC, good tips, thanks! The 14 year old boy loves soccer and all he wants to do is see a football game. I'm not sure that's going to be possible, but we'll see. The 10 year old girl wants to ride a double decker bus, which is definitely doable, lol! They've both read Harry Potter, so we'll visit the studio ($$$$!!!). I think they will like Hampton Court Palace, and we'll probably go to Richmond as well, as the older watched Ted Lasso. Still not sure how long we'll be there, but it will be anywhere from 10-14 days.

CorrieTen, thanks so much! Oh, you would love Lyme Park, and the gardens are so beautiful. It's interesting because I saw Lyme Park and Chatsworth house within about 3 days of each other, and both were Pride and Prejudice filming locations for Pemberley. One of my sisters has seen the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version of P&P over a dozen times, and almost died of jealousy when I sent her photos of it, lol! Good to know I'm not the only one craving slow days. They do get more frequent as I get older. :-)

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76 posts

What a great report and you sound like you had a great time. The weather has warmed up a lot and dried out but March and April were terrible. I believe that April was the wetting on record. The first lockdown in April 2020, we spent sunbathing.
Did you see any blue John crystal when you were in Castleton? In the scree at the side of the road going through winnat's pass you can literally pick small pieces out.

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6832 posts

Thanks, briwire!

Shoot, I wish I would have known that. No, I planned to visit the caves on my last day in The Peak, but that was the day everything flooded and it was so wet and rainy that I wasn't even sure they were open. And even if they were, I don't think I would have made the attempt because of the rain. Even the day I climbed Winnats Pass, it was difficult because the ground was wet and very muddy.

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311 posts

Mardee! I enjoyed your trip report immensely – reading about places I've been and about places I haven't!

Loved the photos on your blog, too. About the lovely Alfred Jewel at the Ashmolean (I just stayed at the Randolph across the street for 4 days) – have we talked about the series "Detectorists"?
It's on Netflix or Prime or something, free with ads. You will LOVE it, and see why I recommended it. Unless of course you've already watched the series :-) which wouldn't surprise me.

~ Laura

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343 posts

Speaking of new shows, just finished watching Shardlake on Hulu. I haven’t read CJ Sansom, but hope to now. I enjoyed it. Arthur Hughes was really good as Matthew Shardlake. Anthony Boyle as Jack Barack, too. It’s only four episodes. I wonder if there’s going to be a second season given he wrote so many books.

Looking up Detectorists, now Laura. I think it may be on Amazon prime.

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311 posts

Thank you, Mustlovedogs – yes, I see Detectorists is on Amazon Prime. I heard about the series from some British friends – it's funny in a very British way; gentle; moving; odd-ball; sweet. The cameos by Simon Farnaby are hilarious, but the entire cast is wonderful. My husband and I have watched it at least twice.

Shardlake sounds interesting – thank you, Mustlovedogs. I will look it up.

Detectorists is also short and very manageable – I think each episode is less than half an hour, and each of the 3 seasons has 6 episodes.

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37 posts

Thank you, Mardee, for this wonderful trip report. I have thought of visiting many of these places in about 3 imagined trip plans. To do so much in one trip is amazing. I appreciate your noting the downsides as well as all the upsides and will save this report for re-reading and my own planning.

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6832 posts

Laura, thanks so much! No, I have not seen Detectorists, and I've been looking for something new to watch. It sounds wonderful.

I'm finishing up "Sugar" on Apple TV, with Colin Farrell, which I have really loved. I binged 6 episodes in one day and I never do that!

By the way, for anyone traveling in the UK, check out the hilarious show "QI" (stands for Quite Interesting), hosted by Sandy Toksvig. It reminds me a bit of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me," but is a bit cruder and much funnier. I had tears running down my face every time I watched it. Unfortunately you can't get it in the states.

Mustlovedogs, another show to add to my queue, lol! Thanks, I do love the detective shows!

Deb, I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks so much!

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411 posts

Mardee, I have visited England many times in the past 30 years and spent time in many of the same areas you visited. So, when I say that your trip report was "off the charts" superb, it is a true accolade. The detail you provided was exceptional. Thank you for all the time you took to compose your post - - - it was a real gift to many of us Travel Forum readers. I have not yet visited Northumberland, so I especially paid attention to what you wrote about that county. I'm sorry you weren't able to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Greenway. Hopefully on a future trip!

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2461 posts

Great (second) write-up, Mardee. Your blog was fun to follow along with each night with a cup of tea. Gail’s Bakery in Notting Hill won the prize for best Hot Cross Bun I had in London.

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95 posts

Thank you for a lovely trip report, Mardee! I'm off to read your blog now...

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6832 posts

Elizabeth, thank you so much for your kind words! That really means a lot! And I hope you get to Northumberland, as it was so beautiful. All the people there were very friendly, and I managed to understand most of what they were saying. :-)

Mary, thank you! And that’s good to know about Gail‘s Bakery in Notting Hill! I should’ve gotten a hot cross bun at the one by my hotel.

MapLady, thanks! I hope you enjoy it!

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311 posts

Mardee, I love QI! I have only seen the older episodes with Stephen Fry as host. As you say, simply hilarious. I watched those (I just checked where!) on Amazon Prime, I think as part of my BritBox subscription. Plus I always learn something from the episodes. ...

I mean, I've watched QI in the States. I just checked and you can watch Season 20 (2023) in the U.S. – all 16 episodes. Yay!

I was wondering if "Sugar" was too dark for me, but I'll give it a try, since you recommend it. It certainly looked intriguing, and I do love Colin Farrell (have watched "In Bruges" so many times – Brendan Gleeson is my favorite living male actor, and the two of them are so good together). Plus, my brother lives in LA quite near Griffith Observatory (which I think was in the trailer); it's fun seeing familiar LA scenes with Colin Farrell in them : )

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8814 posts

Continuing with Tv and streaming options besides the stellar Detectorists…..

McDonald and Dobbs
Luther
Line of Duty
Happy Valley
GrantChester
Sherlock
Unforgiven
Shetland
The Fall
Broadchurch
Inspector Frost
Inspector George Gentley

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6832 posts

Laura, that's great to know that you can find episodes here! I'll check it out as I do have subscription to BritBox. Thanks! And Sugar was very intriguing. It's a crime drama but Colin Farrell plays a detective who has his own issues and loves movies, so there's a lot of interplay with the old 40's and 50's film noir clips. But it really kept me on the edge of seat, especially at the end of ep. 6.

Claudia, I think I've seen every single one of those and loved them. My favorites were Happy Valley, Sherlock, Unforgiven, Shetland and Broadchurch. Plus Endeavor and Sherwood, which are outstanding. In fact, Endeavor is the reason I stopped in Oxford, although I want to go back and see much more it. I just got a taste.

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6832 posts

Thanks, Mary, I will check them out. I loved The Banshees of Inisherin! It was so weird but so good. I'm watching Colin Farrell right now in Sugar, which is also weird but really good. I just had some minor surgery so have plenty of time to lay around and watch TV right now, lol!

Posted by
2562 posts

Mardee--I am so impressed with all the planning you did! I have a two week trip to England coming up soon and I am thinking I would have to almost triple that to match your trip. That would be a lot!!!

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6832 posts

Beth, thanks! I think I started on it about nine months before. But of course I took plenty of breaks. It was worth it, though. I don’t know if I would go on that long of a trip again or not. It was fun but I was definitely ready to come home at the end!

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6832 posts

Laura, I am forever in your debt for telling me that QI is on Britbox! I just pulled it up and found out that it starts at season 10 and goes all the way through season 20! I am so excited. I’m sitting here watching season 10, episode 1 and laughing my butt off! Oh gosh it’s so funny! I just have to make sure my grandkids don’t come down and hear it, because it is pretty raunchy. :-)

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33130 posts

Hi Mardee - if you have gone all the way back to season 10 (I don't remember so many seasons ago) is that with Stephen Fry or Sandi Toksvig? And you are right, by American standards they do sail close to the wind...

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6832 posts

Hi, Nigel! It's with Stephen Fry right now. I think that Sandi joins up in Season 17. She was the one I saw when I was in England watching the show, and I remember her from the Great British Bake-Off, of course. I really like her, but Stephen Fry is pretty wonderful, too, and so funny! I didn't realize till I looked it up on Wikipedia that each season has a letter (10 is J). Wikipedia explained the whole concept, too, although it's convoluted enough that I didn't retain a lot of it. But I just love this show. I don't think I've ever laughed so much during one show in my life.

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975 posts

It ill behoves me to offer a correction on what is a wonderful trip report but my pedantic self can't stop. It's Port Sunlight, not Port Sunshine on The Wirral. Did you manage to go to the Lady Lever Art Gallery there?

There are a number of "model" villages like Port Sunlight built by enlightened entrepreneurs in the 19th century. New Lanark south west of Glasgow, Saltaire on the edge of Bradford and Quarry Bank right by Manchester Airport spring to mind.

Also QI stands for Quite Interesting, not Quite Intelligent.

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375 posts

I just read your trip report, Mardee. Well done. Heading back to London and will hit the Lakes District and Glasgow in a few months. The only thing missing in your report was a Top Ten list of your favorite ales. Any of them better than Hoops or Fitger’s or Blacklist or Canal Park? 😀

Posted by
6832 posts

John, thanks for the corrections! My fingers often don't follow my brain (or maybe they do, and that's the problem!). :-) I've made the edits. No, we did not see the art gallery as we were trying to get to get some time in Liverpool. I'm sure Trish has seen it, as she's lived there for 30 years. But maybe next time!

Jay, thanks so much. And I'm laughing at the beers you named. I like beer (mostly IPAs) but I'm not a connoisseur by any means, and can't really remember much about beers I have had (unlike wine). Now my son-in-law is an expert on Duluth beer, so if he'd been along, he'd be able to give you a good comparison. :-)

Posted by
3812 posts

Mardee, glad to hear you're finding plenty to watch on TV while you rest from your trip.
I'm glad you're recovering nicely!
Some of these programs sound great!
I must get BritBox!

Posted by
2733 posts

Sorry for taking so long to respond, Mardee. I’ve been really busy. Which is why I haven’t written a trip report yet! Not sure if I will get to it; I haven’t done one for my trip last summer either. But to answer your question, the rest of the trip was wonderful, thanks. I loved Cornwall and the little bit of Devon we saw. I would love to see more of Devon, but it seems to be difficult without a car, so I don’t know.

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2461 posts

I must get BritBox!

They have a 2 months for $9 sale this weekend.

Posted by
126 posts

Wonderful trip report! I bookmarked it for future reference. Thanks for taking the time to share.

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6832 posts

Carroll, I'm so glad your trip finished well! I totally get that about Devon and driving, although I will say it was easier than Cornwall. I would drive again in Devon and I don't think I would say that about Cornwall. :-)

Stacie, thanks so much! I appreciate that!

Rebecca, yes, you should get BritBox! There are so many wonderful shows on it!

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6832 posts

Thanks, Nick - good to know about QI. I really like them both and think they both were/are excellent as hosts. And thank you for your kind words—I appreciate it!

Posted by
450 posts

Mardee, I am working my way through your trip report and will also be reading through your blog--I enjoy being able to see pictures along with descriptions. I've only collectively spent 5 days in London, but would love to see more of England (as well as Scotland). Forgive me if I missed this, but where will your next trip be? P.S. I may have to revive the Costco thread with a recent clothing find!

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6832 posts

Meg, revive away! I always love hearing about Costco finds! And thank you! My next trip is actually back to London, lol! I'm taking 2 of my grandkids there next spring (2025). We may also do a side trip to Paris. I may be go on another one, but not sure yet. That's the only definitate one at this point.

Posted by
2783 posts

Great report! Just thought I would mention that James Herriot name was James Wight.

Posted by
6462 posts

Great report! Just thought I would mention that James Herriot name was James Wight.

He was actually James Alfred Wight, and used his second forename of Alfred- usually shortened to Alf.

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6832 posts

What isn31c said. But he did use his first name for the character, even if he didn't use it himself. :-)

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1861 posts

WOW, Mardee, what a great trip and what a wonderful trip report. I have been to a few places you talked about, but bookmarked this report for future travels. I agree Mousehole is a wonderful village. I visited there in 1984 on my 1st trip to England and loved it. My mother went there later the same year and my B & B hostess contacted her at the hotel and took her for a drive around the area. Such kind people. Mom was staying at the inn/restaurant where Dylan Thomas spent his honeymoon-Mum's granny was born in Wales. Now that I've read the report, it's on to the blog. Thank you for all the detail on your visit.

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17 posts

I adore the Old Schoolhouse in Haltwhistle! Kate and Ian are wonderful hosts, and care deeply about their new community (they moved from Edinburgh just pre-Covid). Ian is the baker -- fabulous!

You wrote "I needed to return my car to the Arnold Clark office. Unfortunately, the paperwork took much longer than anticipated (probably because there was a small dent in the car)"

What were you using for insurance and how was this handled? small dents and/or scratches from bushes when pulled over on very narrow roads seem likely, or even inevitable. Last year I rented from Hertz via AutoEurope and had Supercover at a fabulous rate which took out the worry. This year for Wales the AE options are not good, and I've heard excellent things about Arnold Clark so Iam considering hiring from them in Liverpool.

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6832 posts

Em, I love Arnold Clark and highly recommend them. In fact the Liverpool office is where I rented this car. It was nice because they upgraded me to a Mercedes-Benz which was a wonderful car. Unfortunately, the very first place I stopped after leaving Liverpool was at Lyme Park on my way to the Peak District. While I was trying to park in their car park, I accidentally scraped the side of a bullock, I think they’re called, which are short little logs that they have scattered sporadically throughout the park. I’m not quite sure why, but I did scrape the side of one.

The dent wasn’t large, and it didn’t scratch the paint, but obviously I got dinged for it. I had declined the CDW, because I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card who is handling it right now. I had to file a claim with them and expect to be reimbursed in the near future. Arnold Clark was great to deal with about this. I really do like them. This is the second time I’ve rented from them and I’ve been very happy with their services on both occasions.

And yes, the Old School House is great! When I was there, Ian was doing the cooking and Kate was doing the baking, lol!

Posted by
805 posts

I'm not sure bullock is the right word lol Bollard maybe? A bullock is a boy cow that's been errr... done.

If you substitute the "u" for an "o", the plural is an exclamation you may make when you scrape the car off something :)

Posted by
6832 posts

Oh yeah, Gerry, that's the word! I kept calling them logs (because that's what they looked like) and the Arnold Clark agent kept correcting me.

Bollocks!!!! (A good word!)

Posted by
17 posts

" I had declined the CDW, because I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card who is handling it right now. I had to file a claim with them and expect to be reimbursed in the near future."

This is what I would like do but the quote I got from AClark stated "The price of a rental from Arnold Clark is inclusive of insurance. An excess will be charged for any vehicle accident damage - however, an optional excess waiver can be purchased (subject to qualification)."

I've got an email question into them about using credit card insurance and waiving the CDW but I do wonder how you handled declining the CDW (I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card).

Many thanks!

Posted by
6832 posts

Oops, mine is Preferred, too. Sorry, wasn't thinking! I just told them I was waiving the CDW and would use my credit card, but I did have to pay a deposit to them of £1000 when I returned the car (because of the dent). So I expect to be reimbursed for that from Chase.

Posted by
198 posts

Mardee! How did I miss this until now? Thank you for this fantastic summary. (And bonus - now I have even more Britbox shows to watch.) So glad you had such a good trip!

Posted by
6832 posts

Sharon, glad you liked it! And you can never be too rich or too thin or have too many Britbox shows to watch. :-)