England 2008

Diary of trip to England, May 2008

5/7/08      Got up at 4:00am for my England trip.  Linda delivered me to the airport at 5:00am.  I got checked in and to the gate within ½ hour.  Herb Sinnen, my traveling companion, arrived about the same time. The flight left on time at 6:35am for Chicago.  We arrived and prepared for our 5 hour lay over.  We had lunch at Macaroni Grill.  Herb & I walked about 3 terminals just for the exercise.  We finally left about 5:50 pm. on a nice 767 plane.  I had a seat at the exit which had lots of leg room.  Herb upgraded to first class.  The flight lasted about 7 hours.  I was fed a small dinner and a meager breakfast by American Airlines.  I listened to a audible book Jane Austin’s “Emma” on my ipod and Bose head set to pass the long hours.  The flight was long and trying but not too bad because of the great leg room I had. 

5/8/08      We arrived on 5/8/2008 early about 7:00am local time which is + 8 hours ahead of San Diego time.  The airport passport review and check in was slow.  Our luggage thankfully arrived OK.  The Elderhostel driver was there waiting for us.  They drove us in a van about 2 hours north to the city of Bowness on Windermere at the Hydra Hotel.  Got checked in and had an Elderhostel provided light lunch.  I was dead tired but decided to take a 3 mile walk with Herb around part of the very scenic lake.  Rested up for a couple of hours and then I attended a group orientation meeting and then a group dinner.  The draft bitter beer was excellent.  Today was hazy sun and very pleasant weather.  Could be the best day we will have.

5/9/08      Got up at 6:45am, showered and went down to the hotel for breakfast with the group of 13.  The food is very marginal at this hotel.  The blood sausage and fried tomatoes for breakfast is to be avoided.  I got rid of some jet lag but am still a bit groggy.   We had another orientation meeting for the hike today and got into the shuttle about 10:00am.  We drove about 15 miles to a Grisedale Forest Park for a 4.5 mile walk to a 400 ‘ peak overlooking Windermere Lake.    The scenery was beautiful and the wild flowers were very abundant.  The NF was a working forest with some harvesting going on in one area we walked through.  One of our tour members Rick was unable to finish the hike and had to be transported out by vehicle.  He is overweight and smoked!!  At the end of the hike we ended up at the Brant house, a museum house where poet and artist John Ruskin lived.  It was a guided tour.  The house had a beautiful view of the lake.  Next we took a steam powered ferry across the lake where we met our shuttle.  We returned to Hydra Hotel and had a group dinner. We were then presented a 45 minute slide show and lecture about the Lakes District by a retired National Park ranger.  He was a Scot and very entertaining.  The NP system in England is way different than the US NP system.  They basically just control all building codes, easements, forestation planting & harvesting, grazing rules, and park rules even though the government doesn’t necessarily own the land.   I was quite tired and retired to bed immediately after the lecture.

5/10/08    It gets light here early, about 4:30 am at this 54 degrees latitude.  I must close the drapes tomorrow so I don’ wake up so early.  We left at 10:00am for a hike to Cat Bells peak near Keswick about 20 mile north of Windemere.    The city was very busy because of the weekend and jazz festival going on.  We got on the trail around 11:00 am.  The trail climbed half way up the mountain, then followed along the contour of the mountain with nice views of Derwent Water Lake below.  There were lots of little creeks running into the valley where beautiful fields held grazing sheep and a few dairy cows.  The sheep kept the lush green fields looking well manicured.  We stopped for 45 min at a small town called Grange for our hotel provided box lunch.  The trail went right through a couple of farms and finally ended up in Rosthwaite, a quaint little town.  Herb and I had a pint of Guinness in the local pub while waiting an hour for our shuttle.  It was fun seeing some of the locals with their dogs in the patio area.

5/11/08    We had no activity this Sunday morning so those that wanted could attend church.  I worked on my photos and web site.  At 12 pm we headed for Hill Top the home of Beatrix Potter the famous author of kids books “Peter Rabbit” etc.  We stopped at Hawkshead to have lunch at the Queens Head pub.  The food was much better than the Hydra Hotel food.   I had roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding, oven baked potatoes, vegetables, and a great chocolate caramel pudding.  We then continued on to Beatrix Potters’ Hill Top home museum.  When inside the museum it began to rain and hail big time, keeping us all indoors for 1.5 hours.  We had to cancel our 3 mile walk we were going to take as there were flood conditions and new lakes covering our trails.  The ride back to the hotel was a bit cramped as the seats on this mini bus had no clearance for legs and knees. 

5/12/08    We did a 8 mile 500’ elevation hike along a beautiful river and through some farm land in the Coniston area today.   We visited a slate mine.  Saw lots of sheep herds, a few horses, and cows.  It made me lonesome for the Wisconsin farm land I grew up in.   We saw several very old brick and slate roofed farm house.  This country is way scenic this time of year with the flowers, lush grass, sheep herds, rolling hills, stone fences, and really interesting old buildings, most beautifully maintained or restored.  I am very happy with the time of year I picked for this trip.  Its been mostly semi clear and warm.  At the end of the hike I had an hour for a pint of very good Ale.  England’s beer is outstanding.  Had dinner at our hotel which was much better than usual tonight.  My theory is that we had a new chef for today.  Leta, Herbs wife called him about 12:30 am and woke us up, very shocking to get the call at that hour.

5/13/08    I had lots of muscle pain this morning (probably MS related), so I decided to take a day off from hiking and hopefully recoup my muscles a bit.  I set up my computer in a conference and worked on my photos and web site.  A German Strauss Band rolled into the hotel while I was here and played some very tuneful waltzes during my stay.

5/14/08    We left Windermere this morning to head northeast 125 miles to our next location in Scarborough.  On the way we stopped at Thirsk the home of the James Herriot museum.  We stopped for about 2 hours touring the  interesting home of Alf Wight, the author and real name of James Herriot.  Herb, Rick and I then went to the Yorkshire Tea House for lunch which was excellent and the only good meal I have had so far.  I had a fresh  green salad, whole grain homemade bread, and a 3 cheese quiche.  We all continued on in Yorkshire Moors National Park.  We stopped along the way for a short 2.5 mile hike up a very steep peak.  Even Rick the smoker did this one.  We arrived about 5:30pm and checked into the Esplanade Hotel located on the North Sea northeast shore of England.  Our 3rd floor room had a nice view of the beach and the North Sea.  The tour provided food at the hotel continues to be relatively bad except for the bread pudding tonight which was excellent.

5/15/08    The beds and pillows in this hotel are like bricks.  I got no sleep last night.  Hotel breakfast this morning here was quite acceptable and they had made to order eggs with very fast service.  We first drove the van 30 – 40 miles to the city of Helmsley.  We then did a 4-5 mile hike through beautiful sheep and dairy farm hill country.  Occasionally we came across beautiful vibrant yellow colored fields of rape in full bloom, the seed is used to make canola oil.  We arrived at the historic town of Rivaulx.   We had our box lunch, tea, and tea cakes provided by the local mill house owner.  The English country folk are very friendly gracious people and it is a joy to talk with them   A huge monastery ruin was located here, once the largest church in England, which we toured with audio players.  It was destroyed by Henry the 8th’s dissolution of the monasteries.  The Catholic religion was abolished and replaced by The Church of England.  We returned via van to Helmsley and toured my first ever castle.  It was a very long day for me and I was extremely fatigued this evening.

5/16/08    It is looking quite cloudy today and may rain.  I got used to the brick like bed and pillows sleeping better last night.  We left the hotel about 9:30 am.  We drove about 20 miles to the thriving town of Pickering.  We toured a large church.  The main bell ringer happen to be there and gave use a nice overview of the bell ringing occupation.  We climbed 55 steps on a very winding narrow stairs up to the bells.  They rang them while we were up there which probably accelerated my hearing loss.  I got photos of the automated bells.  The small shops in this town were really thriving thanks to no WalMart.  Next we drove over the moors covered with heather and bracken to the very old town charming town of Goathland.  We did a pleasant 6 mile walk through fields, woodland, past a water fall, and over the moors.  I held up very well on this hike as it was quite cool in the 50’s.   Arrived back to the hotel at 5:30pm and had dinner at 6:30pm.  I have been having one pint of draft beer each day before dinner.  The prime rib dinner I had tonight was virtually inedible, so I just had beer, a roll, oven baked potatoes, and corn for dinner.  I think I am loosing a bit of weight and the exercise is agreeing with me.  I enjoy learning the life history of my traveling companions, although a couple of them prefer not to divulge it.  All of them are good travelers and do very little complaining or whinning.

5/17/08  We drove about 25 miles to the charming coast town of Whitby.  We toured the very old 1300AD monastery there for a couple hours.  We then walked down a steep side walk into town.  After a bit of window shopping we went to a fish and chips café.  The deep fried fresh cod fish was very good.  The chips were ok also, but the mushy peas tasted allot like thick split pea soup and was not kind to my palate.  The John Smith Ale was excellent.  We then drove down the coast a bit and picked up a very scenic coast trail for perhaps 5.5 mile hike right on the cliffs over looking the North Sea.  The primrose, bluebells, gorse, and orchids were in full bloom, really adding beauty to the hike.   It was a bit cold and this hike really fatigued my body.  We ended up in a very old town on the coast called Robin Hood’s Bay.  The walk into town was extremely steep and the walk out to our transport was an extremely steep ¼ mile.  Several of us had some double cream ice cream to cool our palates.  We then got in the van and traveled back to Scarborough.  After a pint of ale and dinner, we had another ranger slide show and lecture tonight about the Moors National Park area.  It was hard to stay awake after hiking all day.  Was in bed sleeping by 10:00pm.

5/18/08   Had breakfast with the group and then attended the lecture about today’s hike to Rosedale, a boom town mining area from 1856 to 1926.  Peter our guide did a nice job on the lectures, providing just the right amount of history and humor.  He was a bridge player, so Herb and I occasionally discussed bridge with him.  He played the ACOL system.  Herb has been a very good traveling companion.  I got quite fatigued yesterday from the hike and decided to stay at the hotel in Scarborough today.   I rested and worked on my web site all day.  I had a white fish tonight for dinner which was good.  Some of the group recited some farewell poems after dinner tonight.

5/19/08 We were on the road by 9:00 am for the city of York approximately 80 miles.  We arrived there about 10:30 am and began our walking tour of the city.  We had a very bubbly elderly English lady tour guide who flitted around like a teenager.  The old city of York is totally enclosed with a high stone wall as shown in many old English movies.  The Romans apparently started it around 80AD.  It is a very busy tourist attraction.  We walked around York Minster Abbey a very impressive large structure.  We didn’t have time to go inside and view the beautiful stain glass windows.  I got quite cold as it was a bit windy with temperatures in the low 50’s.  I was like an icicle and very happy when we broke up at 1:00pm for lunch.  Most of our group had lunch at Betty’s a well know local tea house that had excellent pastries.  Returned to the bus pick up location at 3:30 pm and we departed for Manchester about 80 miles away.  Dick Tripp had lots of tea and had to do an emergency stop at a rest center after waiting 25 miles for one to appear.  Glad I didn’t have to go bad or it would have been a soiled seat.  There actually was a KFC at this service center.  We finally made it through heavy traffic to the Manchester airport.  Herb got us checked into the Bewley Hotel which was a very nice ergonomic modern hotel with Ethernet high speed internet.  We all ate together this last night and the dinner was by far the best of the trip.

5/20/08 I had an English traditional buffet for breakfast –ugh-ugh- at 7:00am.  We walked with our luggage from the hotel to terminal 3 only perhaps 2 city blocks.  I got checked in ok with Herb’s help, using the first class line.  Security was less of a problem than in the USA because no shoe removal is necessary.  During our 2 hour wait Herb and I practiced bidding bridge hands which passed the time very quickly.  I got an exit seat with extra leg room and no one next to me so it is quit comfortable, but extremely cold.  Arrived in Chicago after 8 hours.  Customs was no problem basically a walk through.  We had a 5  - 6 hour lay over.  Herb and I bid bridge hands again helping the time pass.  This was a fun trip but the travel days are gruesome for my health.  By the time I arrived in San Diego at 8:30 pm I had been awake for 24 hours of travelling.  Will I schedule more trips like this?  Yes probably but will try for better connections or will stay over night on the east coast to break up the trip a bit.  Thank you Elderhostel travelers for making this a fun pleasant experience.

Last updated on February 7, 2019