I trawled the dark streets, looking for my fix. I was getting desperate. How would I get through tomorrow if I didn’t get it today?
Diesel, of course. I spent an hour on Wednesday trying to find a garage without a huge queue and then panic bought a tank full of diesel. But since we were travelling up to York the following morning, I think I was justified.
We were fortunate that the traffic was very light on the motorways. The only slight delay was due to a wide load on the M5. We managed to reach the hotel, just north of York, despite my wrong turns, in a little under 6 hours.
After a quick freshen up, we headed in to York and the Minster. Its the 2nd largest gothic minster in Europe and in the afternoon sun the yellow stone almost glowed. We decided to climb to the top of the Central Tower despite the warnings of the 275 steep and narrow steps. It was hard going but the view at the top was worth it. It reminded me a bit of the view from the Hallgrimkirkja in Iceland, but York was much more compact, with the buildings of the old town crammed within the city walls. Only when you looked beyond the walls did you see buildingd with more space, larger gardens and wider streets.
The minster itself was huge and impressive but it seemed to have less character that Bath and Wells, probably because there were no old memorials or inscribed flagstones. The stained glass windows were more intricate and impressive, though.
We went in search of The Shambles, a street almost as old as York itself. It was once a street of butchers and slaughter houses and the shambles was the waste product of this business, which used to run down the lane. Today, the buildings are old and have suffered through time. Wooden frames sag, foundations sink and straight lines are non existant. The shops there today were modern, but their ceilings were low and each of the three storeys leaned in and overhung the lane, giving it a claustrophobic feel.
From the Shambles, we went in search of food and decided to eat at the Guy Fawkes pub. The claim was that Guy himself was born here. The place was very atmospheric and had bucket loads of character. The restaurant had dark wood panelling and candles on every table. The food was absolutely delicious and we both ate too much as a result.
Then it was time to find the ghost walk. We had seen several on our walk through the streets but the one that caught our attention was The Ghost Hunt of York, starting at the bottom of The Shambles.
From the moment our host, Mr Richard Rigor Mortis, appeared we knew it wa going to be good. He was dressed like a Victorian gentleman in top hat, bow tie and long coat. He gathered us all together with had gestures and then led us back up The Shambles at a slow, deliberate pace, all the time ringing a solemn bell. We met a second group at the tope of the lane and then we were off.
For the next hour or so we were enteretained, teased and scared by our host as we went from haunting to haunting. We learnt of the little girl who fell down the stairwell at her house, the child plague victime who waslocked in her bedroom and abandoned by her parents, the headmaster who murdered all his pupils and the ghost Roman legion. At one point, in front of an Italian restaurant, we pretended to be listening to a story until the diners were watching, at which point we stared at them, waved and approached the window before making faces at them. It was hilarious.
By the end of the hunt, we were both geting tired and so it was a short wak back to the car and a short drive back to the hotel, and bed.
The next blog is about Friday in Whitby.
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