We enjoyed 2 days in York, staying at St Raphael Guest House, a quaint and well-run B&B just outside the walls of the old medieval city. The full English breakfast provided a good start to each day and we really appreciated how Zoe and Dom extended themselves to accommodate our youngest son’s multiple allergies.
Nothwithstanding the extensive Roman ruins and outstanding Viking centre, a visit to the York Minster was at the very top of our list of things to see in York, which is about midway between London and Edinburgh. Not only is the Minster the second largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, it’s also the only location of outforthehunt‘s GC45CC – Ye Ole Survey Monument virtual cache that we were anywhere close to during our entire stay in England! Despite the access challenges posed by limited Easter hours, we were determined to locate YSM219 – York Minster so that we could write a "found it" log for the sister cache to one of our all-time favourite geocaches, GC43F3 – Brass Cap Cache, here in Alberta. We ended up visiting the Minster several times – night and day – and climbing the 275 spiral steps to the top of the cathedral in order to meet the logging requirements for the virtual cache.
Thanks to a free guided walk encompassing a major portion of the old Roman wall and some other Roman sites dating back to the 1st century, we gained a real appreciation for the engineering and construction capabilities of the Roman Empire. These ruins are so commonplace in York that some of the tumbled down sections of walls and buildings have been incorporated into rock walls in some of the city’s parks and gardens!
There were three other sites we felt were well worth our time. The Jorvik Viking Centre uses modern media, animatronics and recreations to portray the extensive Viking settlement at this location from 866 through 954, when King Edred drove them out during his successful campaign to unite all of England.
The York Castle Museum encapsulates the more recent history of York (primarily the 19th and 20th centuries, but with several sections going further back). Our boys were particularly interest in the sections outlining the evolution of firearms and some of the military campaigns in and around York. I came away with a few ideas for pathtag designs for Geowoodstock VIII, inspired by the 1960s exhibit!
Last, but not least (especially for rail fans), York is home to the National Railway Museum, located just behind the York Station. The amazing collection includes at least 3 dozen engines and many more cars, including one from a Japanese bullet train. We visited the National Railway Museam at the tail end of a very long day of sightseeing, so our youngest was happy to sink into a padded chair in the children’s area and tap away on his iTouch while the rest of us wandered through the massive space, taking many hundreds of photographs.