Yorkshire Hiking, Glasgow, and Edinburgh

Day 1Day 4 Day 7Day 10 Day 14
Day 2Day 5 Day 8Day 11 Day 15
Day 3Day 6 Day 9Days 12-13

Photo Gallery Only


Day 1

Not covered. For some reason I never really wrote anything on this day of wandering through London. We visited some sights including a museum with some interesting hands-on exhibits (Prince Albert Royal Hall perhaps or something like that) and just used the day up. The evening was spent with the cousins at a family reunion.

Day 2

The train ride from London to Skipton, via Leeds, was pleasant enough. We left from Parson Green at 9:00am and arrived in the Malhamdale town around 12:30pm. The trains are clean and efficient and I enjoyed the trip even though I didn't check out the scenery so I can't comment there (everyone else noticed a couple serious fields of poppies). I think we surprised the HF Holidays leaders when we reached Newfield Hall around 12:45pm. The rooms were not ready and would not be until around 2:30 or so. The original plan had been that Mom and Dad would spend some time with friends from Odebee/Leister, the Millers (Pauline and Michael), while Jane, Greg and I would have fended for ourselves. Given that the rooms weren't going to be ready that changed and we all went down to the small village of Gargraves (it might have been Gargrave) for lunch. Can't say anything flattering about the lunch though the Tom Taylor beer was nice. I'm afraid that English cuisine, at lest in small restaurants, lives down to what I had heard.

After lunch Michael drove Greg and Jane back, we had gone down in 2 trips, leaving Mom, Dad, I, and Pauline to wander around Gargraves which is a lovely old village. I should note that the driving here is exciting though at times a bit nerve wracking. The roads are curvy and narrow and all the drivers seem to drive rather quickly and with an abandon that I don't think you see back home. Hitting the little dips on the road you really feel your stomach drop out. Having a car that handles well like the Miller's Citroen is a must. Gargraves' homes are surrounded by classic stone walls and many of the buildings are obviously quite old. It was quite nice. Running through the village is the Liverpool-Leeds canal which is now only used for recreational cruising. This is something you don't see back home. The boats move slowly along the canal, maybe just a couple miles per hour, and the people driving the boats have to naturally open and close the locks. The canal winds around the contours of the gentle rolling hills and valleys and is therefore quite pleasing. I can imagine lots of history around the canal when it was carrying 50 ton barges of coal before being supplants by the railway. For the walk on the canal we were re-joined by Michael (we drove to our starting point). Pauline and Michael used to have a canal boat and knew the canal well. They took us to a very nice rolling hills spot around the Bank Newton locks (6 of them) where we walked upstream and back for about an hour. The weather was ideal for this walk. It was cloudy at the start, but the sun came out and warmed things up. I think the aphorism about not liking the weather in ; just wait a bit and it will change is going to be well used here. If the weather is like what we had today then the walks will be a joy.

Newfield Hall is quite a place. I'm not sure how HF came to own houses of such grand stature, but they do. Newfield Hall can hold about 70 people and for this trip I believe their around 60 odd guests. I imagine that this used to be a manor house for some landed gentry complete with servant quarters, stables, and main hall. The entry/atrium is very impressive though I'm not sure how much is original and how much is new. Certainly some of the house is new since they had a substantial fire a few years back and were forced to do major renovation/repair afterwards. The group is going to be a different sort than last year. As Mom said not as touchy feely. I think more refined, more--dare I say it--British. I think that is all I'll write for now except to say that they are going to feed us quite well I think. Greg and Jane will certainly do much better than they did in Telfes where they had a steady diet of fired veggies.

Day 3

They feed us well here. From the combination continental buffet and hot foods (eggs, sausage, veggie sausage, hash browns, toast) breakfast to the nice sandwiches plus other tasty treats like apples, chips, various candy and granola bars for lunch; to the substantial dinner of an appetizer, entré, and dessert. But, I'm jumping ahead the big thing is the walk.

I did the mid-level walk along with Greg and about 20 others (Mom and Dad did the high level while Jane remained at Newfield Hall battling a mild cold--she is winning). The mid-level walk was a 9.5 mile affair with a total ascent of some 750 feet. We wound our way around the hilly fields of the farmers in the area up through the occasional stand of trees and around the local reservoir (not sure of the name) that I think is used to feed the Liverpool-Leeds canal. The scenery is not dramatic but gently rolling hills and dales. It isn't wet enough to be a moor and is quite clearly fine farm land for grazing heifers and sheep. The walk is through private land, there is very little public land apparently, on the right-of-ways for these sorts of things. This means that we wend our way through fields that are marked off with the ubiquitous stone walls and gates/stiles that keep the animals in their areas.

The weather was, I think, typical British fare: cloudy and sunny perhaps in the low-mid 60s though at times the wind, which blew quite a lot, did have a bit of chill in it (I did put my fuzzy on during lunch and kept it on until the sun broke through--Greg went from shorts to pants to shorts). In most respects the weather was ideal for the walk. If it had been much warmer I would have been hot wearing pants, but as it was things were fine. If the weather for future walk is comparable we're doing well.

The walk itself wasn't difficult especially since the ground wasn't exceptionally hard or rocky. We probably set a pace of around 2.5 miles/hour (that is probably low since I did not consider breaks when I wrote this, but even so...). I did chat with some of my fellow walkers, but I didn't really learn big amounts. One person who is a university lecturer in maths (how British!) was very interested in my thoughts on how to teach computer programming (she also seemed intrigued by what Greg does and had some knowledge of other techniques in his field--of course everyone is intrigued by what Greg does). Another person, an administrator someplace, was interested in the States in general, and a couple chatted with me (couple of people not a Couple) just about things. I'm not very good at this type of thing.

I can't say much about the walk's leader Eric. He didn't leave me with much of an impression. We didn't really stop to learn about various this 'n that like Eric from last year would have provided. But, he was talking with people (usually just the front part) and is I'm sure approachable and a good person to talk with. Perhaps Greg has more impressions.

Day 4

Today started less than perfectly: I almost missed breakfast.

England is fairly far north and therefore the days during summer are quite long. I doubt we get much more than 6 hours of darkness per night. This means I've been waking up around 4:30am listening to the radio for a bit and falling back to sleep. Normally, I set the alarm--I goofed today. I fell back to sleep and didn't really wake up until Greg knocked on my door at 8:18am and asked if I was OK. I was. I took a fast shower and was at breakfast at 8:25am. So, not the best start, but a merely adequate one for the day. It got much better.

We took a coach (bus) to our walk today which started and ended in the small village of Appletreewick. If I could really see what was up during the drive I'd appreciate it more, but a couple times the coach had to squeeze, and I mean squeeze, though some spots of close clearance. One was an arch that probably had a couple inches to spare and another a bridge which when you looked out the window you could not really see the edge of. The ride took about 45 minutes and for a substantial portion was a bit unpleasant since the driver was running the heat and with that and the full complement of HF trekkers things got quite warm (opening the sky light helped considerably).

We arrived in Appletreewick which I suspect is a typical Yorkshire northern village in its stone walls, stone buildings, fields, and overall quaint feel. The middle walk which Jane and I took started by going along the River Wharfe for a few miles. The river bank is verdant and quite lush with trees, ferns, and other plants you expect to see in a cool damp climate. Though not wide it is obviously a river and not simply a fast-moving stream. The river made this walk feel more like walk. We followed the river for a while making small ascents and descents until we reached and crossed a road which signaled the start of the climb to Simon's Seat.

Simon's Seat is on top of a hill that was moderately steep in places, we felt our hearts beating during the climbs, but it is still a hill and our choice of ascent wasn't hard at all (the highs went up a different way that I understand had some scrambling--Greg, and the parents did that). Our path zig-zagged through what I would in other places call trail road, but here it is probably a more functional road used by the local people to maintain there fields. We were walking between stone walls on many switches, but not in the fields themselves. Once we passed a certain high, and got a bit of shelter, we broke for Elelvenes (a mid-morning tea around 11) for a break and a chance to see that we'd climbed a fair piece already. Looking down on the river valley you can see how lushly forested (not a Forest) it is. The ground cover is a combination of grass, lots of heather, various and sundry wild flowers (white, yellow, blue), and billberries.

After the elevenes we climbed steeply for a bit up through a treed area that brought us out on to the top of the hill. This was a local maxima towards Simon's Seat major and it felt a bit like an alpine plateau with low lying scrub in abundance (Jane said it reminded her of high stuff in the Rockies). But, unlike Colorado , here you get peat bog. This is the terrain I think of when I think of moors (granted I think of more boggie , but this is good enough). The hills, valleys, peat bog and stray boulders all combine to form a lovely scene. The peat bog is a joy to walk upon. It springs back like a sponge or modern race track for sprinters. Of course, if it was really soaked you could easily sink far in and have a devil of a time getting out. But, for us the bounce back was grand.

We had lunch at Simon's Seat Major which was just a bit higher than the peat bog area. This is a collection of free-standing rocks that are quite impressive. They really aren't SImon's Seat which is a bit lower down. But, I missed the real thing completely as did several others. Their are 2 stories that go with this geographical feature. Richard, our leader today, said the tale is that a shepherd tending his animals found an abandoned baby on the hilltop and brought him down to the village (I imagine it was Appletreewick or an ancestral village in the same place). The villagers were so pleased that God had spared the child that they took it back up to bless and praise God and the spot. The spot was henceforth known as Simon's Seat (I'm not sure if that's the baby's name or the shepherds). The other tale goes like this and was told by Shirley who is involved with HF in their board and other higher levels. According to her a boy and his dog were playing and the dog ran off into the hills of the moor. Being devoted to his dog the boy chased after him, but the dog ran far and fast and eluded his young master (gotta love embellishment!) who found himself lost and exposed. The dog found the child and being a devoted dog, the child was suffering and didn't really respond to his lick, the dog ran back to the village to get people to come and help the boy. They did come following the dog, but it was too late. The boy had gotten stuck and froze into the rocks. The place is now known as Simon's Seat. I'm not going to say which tale I believe, both are good.

After lunch, and a brief encounter with the high walkers who were coming up to see the Seat we descneded down gently sloping hillside. You could really see the heather, flowers, and other things. The heather is burned back routinely to improve growth and limit it somewhat for Grouse hunting. The grouse get to live in the taller old-growth. Somewhat further down the terrain changed from the alpine meadow look to forest as we approached a local stream. Dad, and the high group who had caught up, joined us. Dad remained since his shoes were inflaming his Achilles tendons and it was just painful to continue with the high walk. We continued down until we again reached the Wharfe and Bulton Abbey. The Abbey is quite old, Jane said it had a congregation that had been around for 850 years though the building isn't that old. Dad and I didn't go into the Abbey, but instead headed straight for a very nice tearoom where we enjoyed some fine tea and absolutely luscious coffee cake, and when Jane arrived, Lemon marraigne pie. Very enjoyable and quintessentially British. A great way to end the walk. Bus ride back, mercifully much shorter than the first one (must have walked around a lot of twists and turns the bus had to drive), dinner, and a relaxing evening of nothing special.

Day 5

Today's walk, a middle level one, was done by me, Mom, and Greg. Dad discovered that wearing anything with a back on his feet really bothered his Achilles tendons and opted out of all the walks. Jane wanted some time away from Greg (and vie versa maybe) and did the low level walk (which ended up seeing much of what we did though it covered less ground since it made a smaller circuit). Our leader was Doug who I liked.

This walk started and ended in Malham which is a village some 2.75 miles away from Newfield Hall. I must say that those miles seemed much longer than a mere 2.75 miles would warrant. We went down towards the local river (unsure of the name) and hiked along it for a time on paths that were covered with limestone. The entire area we were in was predominately limestone. The river, like yesterday, was lush and made me think of the lusher parts of the Shenendoah or perhaps some of the ranges in New England like the Adorondacks or Green Mountains.

Our first big stop was at Janet's Foss. This is a waterfall albeit a small one. Supposedly the local Fairy Queen, Janet or Jannett (Jané) lived in a cave behind the fall or as it is called here: a foss. In modern times (though fairies do have a long life span) the falls and pool at their base were used by the locals as a sheep wash. Sheep whose wool was clean would fetch a higher price than those that were not clean. Men would drive the sheep into the cold water, often standing up to their chests in the cold water used strong drink to keep the cold at bay. These sheep washings were made into day-long events of work and celebration (perhaps too strong a word).

The walk then worked its way through a campsite and fields (the sheep near the tents, I think for only high schoolers at least I thought that there was some sort of sign about that) were obviously quite used to the people. These fields and their 200 odd year old stone walls led us to Goredale Scar which is an angular piece of land that is composed of limestone and is in essence a small gorge perhaps a few dozen meters high. Water flows down over the limestone and carves out the feature and as it comes down it forms a layer on top of the substrate it's falling over called Tufas. Tufas (sp?) is a calcite carbon dioxide combination that forms as the carbon dioxide bubbles up through the calcite we get honeycombs so this is a porous substance that forms pretty bands, but is also quite soft and easily worn away. The high walkers were climbing up this rather steep scar and Doug helped a few of the ones having trouble. Our group just watched though I did venture up a tiny way into the scar which meant walking through some shallow water. Greg went further, but by the time I decided to join him he was on his way back. Very sheer cliffs and impressive in how it just juts out.

We next headed towards the limestone pavements that required walking through the high moors which are quite raw. I don't know if today was atypical, but the wind was fierce running at least 25 m.p.h. and probably a fair bit more. A lot of our walk was in this type of terrain of wide hilly country that is primarily grazed by sheep (if the sheep weren't present the grass and other vegetation would eventually become fairly foresty). Of course, the fields were enclosed by stone walls and some of these wound their way up and down many hills in a impressive display of building. The limestone pavements were once the site of a river outflow. Water flowed over them until 70 years ago when the river course found a new path underground. With the old river and the sun the limestone is riddled with fissures, but the blocks are generally quite even and sizeable. They are also large in the vertical dimension dropping off at a sheer cliff several 10s of meters (Greg said it reminded him of Hoover dam and he is right seen from below Malham's Cove does look that way). I imagine it was called Malhams' Cove because of the way the old river ran over it. The view from the edge of the fields, their walls, and the surrounding large hills was wonderful. Sadly, I had a close encounter with some stinging nettles, but they weren't too potent.

We next walked up what must have been the old riverbed which though steep was pretty regular and therefore just physically tough. As always at these high moors the wind was quite strong. We had lunch at the top of the river and shortly afterwards found the new watercourse at what Doug called the Sump. A sump, a Britishism, is a sink hole with water flowing into it. That water was coming from a Tarn which is a lake and it was in its own way rather impressive to see.

The walk continued around several more hills up and down and with the high wind it felt like more than 9 miles all told. At one point several women in the party had a close encounter with a Yorkshire farmer that is funny now, but might not have been then. They were about to use a sheep pen as a nature stop and the farmer suddenly appeared in his vehicle and told them in no uncertain (though hard to understand I think) terms that they should get out of there. There was nothing for them to do but leave. They found a place, after some climbing, later. But, you have to wonder if he was laying in wait or if this was the worst kind of coincidence.

We returned to Malham and caught an uneventful bus ride back. The evening consisted of an OK dinner and a fun game that Greg and Jane call the Name Game. They gathered up 9 people and we had a lot of fun with it.

Day 6

Today was our off day from the walks so we went with about 15 others to the city of York. The coach (bus) ride which we thought was supposed to take 45 minutes took a bit more than twice that (ditto the return trip). Not the best way to start (and end) the day. At least at the end of the day I had John LeCarrre's Smiley's People to help pass some of the time.

York is a sizeable city and is I think the local seat of power. At least that makes sense to me since this whole area is Yorkshire. York dates back at least to the early twelve hundreds and before that, during Viking times (though I think these really end around William I's conquest of England in 1066 even though the city was sacked by its own people with Vikings shortly after), as Jorvik. Jorvik was a thriving Viking town. The walled portion certainly goes back to around this time and the wall is 1.9 miles long--at least you can walk that much some of the wall has crumbled.

We started with York Minster (Minster = church something I hadn't known. I guess I always thought "minster" was part of a place name). This church dates back to 1220 or so, but is based around some older cathedral of the Normans. As with most churches this one was built over considerable time and many things were added over the centuries. For example, the central tower was built after much of the church while the transepts (north-south) are the oldest portion of the structure and show some sings, especially at the foundation, of the even older Norman cathedral. The Nave is quite wide and the vaulting in this Gothic church is quite high and striking. The stained glass windows all seemed quite intricate though as usual I couldn't really tell what was being depicted even when I was told. Being Gothic the church is not decked out in the ornate style we saw a lot of last year in Austria and the Czech Republic. We climbed the Central Tower which involved climbing 275 steps up a two tier spiral stair. It was tiring for me though the parents claim no effects (of course). The top is enclosed by chicken wire which does impede the view some and really detracts from it I think. To be honest the cityscape of York did not excite me. Nor was I really excited by our trip to the foundation (both trips cost a bit, sigh).

Lunch in a park beside the church. Just a picnic of what Newfield Hall made.

We wandered through the Shambles which are a centuries old shopping strip. The buildings are old enough to be tilting towards each other as they settle. I could see it. But, it is a tourist shopping spot and not interesting for anything other than the tilting buildings. The area it's in is somewhat reminiscent of Prague in its small winding streets though I like Prague more (York's better than Insbrock though).

We next went to Clifford's Tower which was an old city tower fortress that dates back at least to William I's time. It is built on top of a man made earthen mound (56 steps to the tower's base) and the tower is probably 3 stories high. It used to be roofed, but now is open to the sky. Walking around the now open top level you have a decent cityscape view though I just don't think York's skyline is all that great except for the York Minster and some building near it (I could not see the River Foss--and I think I might be wrong on what "foss" is now). On March 16, 1156 (or 1190, this is from memory) the tower was used by local Jews for shelter from besieging townspeople. According to a plaque they took their own lives rather than renounce their faith. The tower was destroyed in fire though it isn't clear whether the townspeople did it or the Jews themselves. The plaque actually says "Jews" and "Jewesses" and I can't think of any other ethnic/racial group where that is done. Not sure if that should mean something.

The Jorvik museum was a bust. This included a Disney-like ride that was just tacky. Children would have liked it, but it was an hour waste of time (and £12 or so). Greg and Jane, who had gone their own way, did a city walking tour which was the right choice (Mom and I wimped out and went with what Dad said--must be more assertive). A bit of shopping including Dillon's for books (including my new one) and then some walking of the wall and that was it for York.

Took a couple short walks after dinner and learned a bit about Cribbage as Dad and Greg played. Not a bad day, certainly better than the last HF hiking off-day we had.

Day 7

Everyone but Jane did the middle walk while she took the low one The premier features of our walk today were the bog and the Classic English Weather. The latter was cloudy, misty/rainy, and cool. The former were moderately squishy and soft and it was possible to sink into them.

The walk left from Kettlewell village and went straight up from the outset. Of course, here "straight up" really means up a hill, walk across its summit, climb a companion hill, walk across its summit, climb the next hill and so on until you reach the ultimate peak. A set of steps that were built without the use of a level for a giant wouldn't be an out-of-place analogy. We left with the morning mist/fog and that stayed with us for the majority of the day turning into drizzle at times. For much of the climb, through farmer's fields (sheep grazing) and unused (at least it seemed that way at times) land we were shrouded within the clouds. Eric told us of a weather phenomenon known as the Spectre of the Brackhan which he thought we would have a small chance of witnessing. This spectre appears when you are above the mist and the sun breaks out and casts your shadow on the mist. The shape that emerges, sometimes with a halo from the sun, on the mist can be quite imposing and perhaps unnerving hence its name. He said you can only see your own shadow and no one else's. Sadly, the weather did not cooperate so the spectre remained mysteriously unknown to us.

These hills were marked by a lack of stone walls. There were a couple here and there, but the hills were mostly empty of walls. The couple walls we did see extended the length of the hills we were climbing and there was one small building that I think might have been used by shepherds for shelter during lambing times. We had our lunch in the lee of one of the rare walls and it served as a superb wind break as we learned when we had to cross a stile to its other side.

The other main feature of this walk was the bogs near the top (though they were elsewhere) of the hike. These are peat bogs and are unlike the one we found at Simon's Seat, much wetter. No nice recoil for walkers with these bogs, but you could--and I did--sink in. I provided the fun for the day by sinking in nearly to my boot tops and as I pulled out making that always neat sucking sound as my shoes pulled free of the bog's slippery and slimy embrace. Some people said they were worried I'd loose a boot, but I had no such concerns. Dad was remarkable here. He was wearing his running shoes which worked out very well for him and his irritated Achilles tendons. But, running shoes have rather low heels so he had the least wiggle room where the bogs were concerned. His shoes barely got dirty. He is quite adroit and light on his feet.

After our ascent we spent much of the afternoon working our way down the hills towards our destination village of Buckden. The descent was easy enough except for the rutted nature of the hills (also on the up swing of the walk). For me that makes things a bit tougher.

At the bottom we stopped at the White Lion's Inn for a break. I tried their local brew a Moorhouse ale that was quite good. I also picked up a coaster for a friend who collects them (I have 2 now) which is for what I hope is also a regional brew though it wasn't personalized to the pub itself which is a bit of a shame.

The break was pleasant enough, but afterwards our pace really slowed down which was unfortunate. We were making a very good pace at the beginning (and on the descent) I think and that made the walk fun even though I couldn't talk with people. I don't mind walking alone in my thoughts enjoying the surroundings especially on the ups where the mental stress is not that severe.

After the pub we were walking along the river valley and we just slowed way down. Some of this is understandable since Eric doesn't want us to get to the walk's end too quickly and therefore leave us with lots of time before the return coach arrives. Unlike Austria where we relied on frequent public transportation here it is scheduled at one, possibly two, pre-arranged times. This means that with a shorter walk like ours at 7.75 miles (about 1,600 feet ascent) you need to maintain a pace of around 1.25 miles per hour if you have a 7 hour day with an hour of breaks. Slow.

We walked along a tributary of the River Wharfe called the Cray Gill. A "gill" is a ravine that has water running through it. My impression, from what Eric told me, is that it would be a small ravine at that. The Cray fits this description since it wasn't wide but had its share of small cataracts and quick water. In the valley the stone walls and their enclosed fields returned. We stopped at a local chapel during this stretch of the walk. Saint Michael's is a 970 odd year old hunting chapel which I assume means local hunters and such used it for prayer before, during, and after their hunts. It's a small stone building which is quite dim and somewhat damp. It is a far cry from cathedrals and even the larger churches that you can find in more major hamlets. This church had no stained glass windows or vaulted Gothic ceilings though it did have some 9-12 foot tall stone archways. A workingman's church. No pretense or extravagance really, but still obviously a place to worship ones god. I liked it.

We crossed the Cray Gill and entered and walked along the River Wharfe for a time until we reached a main road which took us into Buckden. Buckden is a small village that I believe used to serve as a reserve for the King's hunting of bucks. A brief, since it was closing, visit (Greg might have seen it all, but not Mom and I) in the museum detailing Buckden's history and some of the local geography followed by a stop in a tearoom (very elegant) for tea and a slice of OK cake and that was that. The bus ride back which started late due to traffic congestion brought us back to the hall with just 45 minutes to spare before dinner.

Dinner which was average for here was followed by several games of Diminishing Wist. I ended up scoring 57 points (Dad 62 or 63, Jane 69, Greg 70) and took a small stone-like starfish for my prize. No one took Janes fake dog-poo. Jane has a touch of the practical joker, perhaps some coyote in her ancestry.

Day 8

Today was our last walking day. The Parents elected to do the high walk while Greg, Jane, and I did the middle one. Both walks covered much the same ground.

The middle and high walks both were circuits that had their starting/ending points in the village of Settle. Settle actually looks like it is a fairly sizeable place certainly larger than Buckden and probably also Malham. Our middle walk took us oround a field along a narrow path that provided ample opportunity for people to get zinged by stinging nettles. I don't think anyone really got nailed. From the field we walked along the flood plain of the River Ribble. The walking here was easy and the scenery was what we had come to expect of these river valleys including the farmer's fields and the accompanying stone walls (Greg did find out that these stone walls which date back to the mid 18th century really are quite a substantial investment in labor. A good stone wall builder could complete 5 yards a day and this would involve 5 or so tons of stone. I doubt the wall builders were paid much by the farmers for their very hard work). We walked past our first falls at Stainforth Falls. This was barely a falls in my mind more a large cataract. But, who am I to quibble. We crossed over the river at this point and this meant stepping across several fairly evenly spaced and reasonably level stepping stones. I did it. We had lunch at Catrigg Falls which Richard, the walk's leader, thought was named for its location. This waterfall is really a waterfall. It was made of 3 distinct falls. A tall narrow one that fed into a narrow fairly low, with many nice white water Vees, fall which fed the final small fall several yards and a few feet further downstream. Very scenic and we even got sprayed a few times while sitting at the top of the falls on the much slower portion of the river. The falls are in a small forest that I suppose is to damp for sheep to care about (I imagine their must have been a stile blocking it off, but I just can't recall one).

After lunch we left the pretty easy walking of the river dale to climb up towards Victoria and Jubilee caves. I think this 9 mile walk was supposed to have 1,000 feet of ascent, but it never felt like it. Greg decided to take off his shirt since today was by far the warming walking day at around 80 degrees. The climb though steep wasn't too stressful and took us up through the hills surrounding the local villages. I was disappointed by the caves. We could only enter Jubilee since their was concern about rock falls around Victoria caves. Only Greg and Richard went all the way in. If I'd had a head lamp maybe I would have too, but my light was too weak and as it turned out the cave wasn't that neat even for the most intrepid explorers. These caves were formed out of limestone by a combination of glacier action and more recent water erosion. We saw one big free standing builder that quite clearly did not belong that was left behind when the glaciers retreated and has stood in its spot ever since. Many of the steep hillsides in this very quiet higher valley have only partial grass covering and everything else is bare stone. It is quite striking. The valley here is a wide U shape and that is what a glacier creates versus the V shaped valleys made by water erosion from rivers. We had some really nice echoes.

Our pace wasn't very fast, but it was pretty steady which was nice. Outside of one detour for a bathroom stop in a village we didn't have much in the way of these stops. I think that is a good thing. All in all I wish the pace had been more consistent for the walks--fewer stops of any kind. Some of the slowing down can be reasonably explained by the transportation constraints, no one really wants to kill big amounts of time in a tiny village--but still…

From the caves it was essentially all downhill back to Settle and its neighboring village of Giggleswich which I'm only mentioning because it has such a funny name. We did make a detour, with the farmer's permission, through a field that wasn't on the right-of-way. Two farmers were separating out lambs and sheep (and maybe doing a dipping) and they were passing the animals through the gate we would have used. So instead we went through a farm gate that we had to climb through, avoiding some barb wire, and trek down the farmer's field to the road. Turns out that the high walkers got to that spot and since the farmers were almost done they used the proper route which led to steep rocky downslopes versus our steep but clear field. We lucked out.

An hour in Settle before the return trip and that ended the day. The Bulton Abbey tearoom we found earlier in the week remained the place with the best cakes.

This evening included dancing, skits, and other such things. Greg and Jane did Baby Talk for the second year and it went over quite well I thought. I think Greg does his part better than Jane, but maybe he just has better lines. Christine, not sure I know who she is, had a great story about a little child called Ethal Red who loved motor cars and bikes a little too much for his own good. He wanted to be an automobile and was badly surprised when his tummy was upset by his consuming petroleum. His life came to an end shortly afterwards and naturally enough he was considered flammable and so he was buried at sea so if the fish you eat has an oily taste you know it fed on what remains of Ethal Red. I liked it a lot--great story. I even did one dance and lived up to my low expectations. But I guess everyone else does iffily in these too so perhaps that is all right. It was a nice evening and the week has been good overall (and finding Booktime at 11:20pm on about 540AM is a great bonus).

Day 9

We left Newfield Hall and the Yorkshire Dales for Glasgow this morning. The train ride via Carlyle (sp?) Was easy and done in two 90 minute chunks (40 minute or so layover at Carlyle where Greg, Jane, and I had a very tasty snack of baked potatoes). We're staying at the Botanic Hotel which is near a botanical gardens on the Great Western Street. This hotel has some of the oddest rooms I've seen. My single is sort of suite like with a small room with my single bed that also contains an open sink right by the bed next to the closet. My entry way has a door on the left and right: the right door takes you to my single room while the lefthand door opens into the bathroom. It's a ribbon door and the bath is small, but effective enough. Mom and Dad's room (started as Greg and Jane's, but the smoke smell got to them) is a double with a single and double bed and a virtual living room. It is large. Greg and Jane have a more typical double with a balcony that is up a mountain of stairs. All in all a nice but weirdly laid out place.

We spent the late afternoon at the McClellan Gallery viewing an exhibition devoted to Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I did not know who this man was and I still do not know much about him. However, the exhibition was impressive both in its scope and amount of information it presented. They gave us an audio tape driven tour that we had control over and that brought a lot of the models of his buildings, furniture, sketches, and pictures to life. As I understand it he did the majority of his best work prior to World War 1 probably just after the turn of the century. His work seems to be identified by odd juxtapositions of lines, shapes, and curves that create things like the appearance of an arched window where only a cylinder top exists (Hill house), or a bulge in a cabinet for a bedroom that is really only effective use of shadow, or the asymmetries in window position and size which festoon buildings like the Glasgow Art School and the boarding school for boys and girls. The latter building also have stair towers that you are sure must hold spiral staircases but instead have the normal flights. His furniture seems to feature high back chairs with intricate, though to my eye almost to much so, complex shapes composed of rectangles and squares. For example, a free-standing bookcase was just to intricate for my taste and I can easily see why it was once auctioned as a wireless aerial. As is usually the case for me the sketches and pictures didn't do much for me. I must say that some of the interiors he designed for exquisite tea rooms and the like often struck me as a bit stark in their black and white elegance. The tape guide often said they were sensual, but I don't see it. His attention to detail however can not be denied and I do think I can sort of see how he has affected later generations of architects and designers. All in all the exhibition was actually a bit overwhelming. But you do leave it feeling this was a man who was not appreciated for whatever reason, perhaps some of it was the intervention of World War 1 that caused clientele to dry up, in his day but who seems to be so now.

Tea and cake afterwards then a trip to the movies to watch the Coen brother's Fargo. I liked it though must agree that it isn't as good as Barton Fink or Razing Arizona. If it had had more suspense in the story that would have helped. The style is clearly Coen and the humor and the lives of the people especially the sheriff Marge Gunderson are well realized. Still I wanted more and I know others in the group shared this view to varying degrees. Dinner at a nice Indian place and now back at the hotel. Sadly it doesn't seem possible to get that Irish radio station that had Book Time on it which is a shame (it probably was some BBC station like BBC 4, but that is beside the point - I never found it).

Day 10

We started our first full day in Glasgow with a city walking tour that took us in a circle around some of the city center. The tour lasted some 90 minutes and was given by a Glaswegian, Moira Gunn (she pronounced it very slowly and carefully following the axiom that if you speak it slowly and loudly enough people just have to understand you), who seemed to really know her city. We could really see the effects of the clean-up in the city. Mom and Dad remember Glasgow as being dirty and somewhat rundown (from a trip some thirty years before), but it is far far better today. We saw a couple buildings that are good role models for before and after cleaning. The before building was quite clearly blackened, dirty and looked grungy; the after building was its original white (beige) sandstone. Glasgow buildings tend to be either white or red sandstone. I saw several buildings with bronze domes (now green with a patina). One of the first big and nice buildings we saw was the former home of a tobacco lord. The tobacco lords were big league tobacco merchants. In the 18th century 2/3rds of the tobacco came though Glasgow which at the time, and up until the mid 20th century, was a major shipping city, Tobacco was, and is, grown in Virginia and when we broke away from England the supply dried up. This tobacco lord had seen the Revolution coming and spent time warehousing tobacco and thus was able to sell it at a fantastic markup. With the profits he built himself a large mansion in Glasgow. The tobacco lords were powerful enough that they even got special right-of-ways on the streets for themselves. Over time the lord's house became a businessman's club and library and is now the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art.

This gallery is spectacular. I especially liked the stair well with its stained glass windows and mirror roofed elevator. Some of the very large canvases on the main floor were quite violent and striking. The 3 UK toughs and their vicious dogs is one example. The photographs of the oil fire fighters in Kuwait trying to stop the well fires set by the retreating Iraqis is another. The parent's were in hog heaven, but for me it was less intriguing. Some of the free-standing pieces, like the painted wood octagon with the spiraling painting by Vaserelli and the bookcase composed of many elegant lines forming shelves were more to my liking. The light sculpture in the Fire Gallery (there was Earth, Fire, Water, and Air galleries but they didn't pull the themes off very well) which was a tube of lights rings was also nice though I still like O'Hare Airport's more.

The tour took us through George's Square which was a nice central square full of statues including a favorite poet or two, but not of King George since he lost the colonies.

At one time Glasgow housed twice the number of people it does now. Jobs were quite plentiful in ship building and related industries like commerce. One reasons Glasgow was the tobacco center was that the travel time to the States was 17 days less than it was from England. Glasgow also served as a jumping off point for people emigrating to the USA and the appearance of buildings like the Anchor Line offices reflect the prosperity of the city. But, the housing was so dense that it led to horrid slums which were eventually abandoned. The people were moved outside the city center and I imagine that deadened the city somewhat. People are coming back now, but not in the 20 per room that you might have once seen. Some of these slum areas have no yet been cleaned up from the coal and other air pollution that once covered the city in black grit.

We walked along Argyle Street and a couple other Pedestrian Ways and ended our tour in Prince's Square which used to be an open square which had lots of crap, and I mean crap, in it and according to our guide was a bad place. In the late 80s they enclosed it with a nice glass roof and made it a very upscale, though not overwhelming, shopping arcade. Prince Charles opened it in 1988. Glasgow has done a fine job of revitalizing its downtown for the tourist trade which seems to be one of its big things these days along with trying to be a cultural center (it once was called the 2nd city of the empire, but because of its economic status not anything cultural). We had lunch in Prince's Square.

The group split up after the tour (the modern gallery visit, described above, was post-tour). Greg and Jane went their own way while we did galleries and such including a nice little place that dealt in ceramics and is the only one outside of London to do so. The owner and main artist is an American from S. California who now lives in Glasgow. I liked his illuminated manuscripts (well that is not quite right, clay books open to a page with a sculpture on the page are clearly not illuminated books, but that is what his art made me think of). Mom and Dad liked one enough and purchased it.

Glasgow feels like a friendly city. More so than Vienna did. But I can't say how much of that is attributable to the common language being used by everyone even though some of the accents are strange.

Day 11

The majority of today was spent checking out various buildings and rooms that Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed and then built. I don't really know which one was which now, they ran together, but you can certainly tell a Mackintosh or Mackintosh-inspired building when you see it. Dad had a guide to Mackintosh buildings which we followed and some of them are striking in the details you see in them. I am always impressed by the degree of detailing an architect can sometimes go to in their work. Down to the ironwork, totally decorative, that extended out from the windows of the Glasgow School of Art, built in 2 sections from 1897-99 and 1907-9, to the asymmetries though still balanced in the windows and "cupolas" that are around and above the entrance (which reminded me a little of Sarenen). His bulging towers with their little turrets and piping that travels around the towers like in the old Daily Record building which will become a center for architecture and design in a couple years (still needs to be sand blasted) is another example.

However, I don't like the furniture as much. The high-back chairs are great to look at but I don't think they're the be all and end all in comfort except for a short sitting in a tearoom such as those run by Miss Cranston (we did lunch at the Willow tearoom and it was elegant, but I like the Bulton Abbey one more for style and tea/food).

There is an almost mathematical sense to some of Mackintosh's designs which appeals to me from the carpet and its dotted pattern in the Mackintosh room in the Glasgow School of Art to the abacus-like (had to be pointed out by our guide who was very enthusiastic--classic British I thought) decorations in the school's library and the sinuous wood balustrade, think that's right, running along the outer edge of a wall in the library's gallery. Greg really liked the slight change from vertical slats to squares in the banister of the main stair--something you wouldn't normally really see, but it is noticeable once pointed out and adds a flair to the stairs (ditto the little tile arrangements and the big arches on another staircase). But, the library also didn't really feel that warm and conducive to thought. The colors were good, but the furniture though utilitarian and yet still pretty wasn't what I'd call comfortable for thinking. I couldn't use that library to read in, just as a reference area.

We went back to the modern art gallery so Greg and Jane could enjoy it. I really like the elevator and Mom and I discovered little almost prism like things in the glass around it that pick up the reflected colors from the lift's mirrored roof in very wonderful ways. It is really great to watch that elevator as it descends/ascends by the stained glass windows. It's strange that that type of thing appeals to me so much while pictures do not (at least some pictures). I think it must be the patterns of color and their dynamic/chaotic nature that I like. If I ever build a house its southern exposure should have something colorful to show the light off well. On the other hand, the benches in the Earth gallery are awful even though they are somewhat pretty to look at. Jane and Greg were both impressed by what they saw.

Today was something of a blur and I don't really have much more to say. I do not think Glasgow is the City of Architecture but it is certainly one for art and artist. Mom is right that Chicago has a better skyline and I think I might toss in San Francisco too (parts of NYC though the Big Apple can just be itself and not need a special theme). Greg, Jane, and I came back to the hotel around 3:30 and I snoozed till dinner which was at a great restaurant Mom and Dad found called the Back Alley Cafe. Better Italian food than most places in Ann Arbor certainly. Tomorrow we'll check out Mackintosh's re-created home in the Glasgow University which is just at the other end of Hillhead (what a good name) Street (we're at the hills' top now) and then we're off to Edinburgh. The university does look quite nice though it also appears to be a smallish campus. At least it is pretty unlike some I've seen. Greg's right that it has the right feel about it.

Days 12-13

We've been in Edinburgh for 2 nights and a day and a half and this city has left different impressions from Glasgow. The train ride was easy enough though we found once we arrived at the station in Glasgow that faster trains did run between the two cities. We stuck with the train we had picked which took about 90 minutes (quickest was 30) and that was fine. One advantage we found in our train was a very empty car for ourselves. Greg, unfortunately beat me in a close game of cribbage again. That's a fun game. I must note here that the train stations have all been very nice and open with sky-lit roofing and they are clean and well kept. They care about their trains.

The B&B here is probably the least well appointed of the 3 we've been in. Certainly having to use a public bathroom and another bathroom for showers is annoying. But, it is a decent enough place though it turned out to be futher from the city center then one would really wish for. We went to Waverly Place (think that's right) where tourist information and the city center are. Very nice. The information/shopping center is quite pretty , very open, nice fountain in the heart of the building, and plenty of "park" around it. I'm saying "park" since it isn't green, but it wouldn't be bad sitting around. We walked around some of the Royal Mile in the New Town which is Edinburgh recent vintage (i.e. Victorian on) and I think we all found what we saw to be rather kitch. But, the castle from a distance looks very impressive. I should note that between the castle on Castle Rock and Waverly there's a green park in a great depression that until the mid 18th century was Loch Nor. They drained the loch, not quite sure why, and this park went in. I don't think a lot of that area was ever used for housing/business. The park is quite nice and some of the flower arrangements, roses of all colors are big here, are great. Our wanderings took us through several closes and maybe some wynds and sometimes you found very nice older buildings on the other side. A "close" should actually dead-end, but many have been opened up; "wynds" are full pass-throughs. All in all our first impressions weren't the best. This was in contrast to Glasgow where we had good feelings right away, but I know some of that is because we hit a hot spot straight off. By the way, Edinburgh is a grander city in that its road are wider and it seems to have more green. It doesn't have the industrial past of Glasgow.

Our next day has proven to be much better. It began with a city walking tour by Eileen (could be Aileen, pronounce ay-leen) which started in the New Town and then went across the park to check out lots of older Edinburgh. I must admit the length of history is always a bit overwhelming. Our history is much shorter, but I suppose I could get easily overwhelmed on a good city tour back home too. Some of the building interiors we saw were fabulous. I don't think the exteriors are generally very thrilling (I doubt the skyline is that good), but one bank we went into was absolutely stunning with its high ceilings, vaulted dome with 125 stars (Jane needed something to count!) and the faux marble that you wouldn't know wasn't real without a close look or touch (it's painted stone made to look like marble with its veins. The technique is to paint a yellow shade and while its wet a different, darker I think, shade over it. While everything is wet you run a goose quill feather over it and that creates the desired effect). Banks went all out in these areas because it used to be that you didn't think to put money in the bank as is done today. They had to work to get your money. In Scotland, unlike home England or anywhere else I can think of, the banks issue legal tender. So the banks we saw, Clydesdale Bank, and the Bank of Scotland all issue pound notes that look different. The government doesn't do it. I don't know how the money is backed or supply regulated.

Much of the tour is a blur. There is plenty of history here, but it is hard to absorb it quickly. We left the tour feeling that Edinburgh has a lot in it, but I still have the impression Glasgow might be more vibrant where arts are concerned while Edinburgh is more, as it has long been, the political seat. I think it could take longer to explore here and really get a good feel for things than in Glasgow.

After lunch, again at Hendersons which for everyone else is the cat's meow of vegetarian food (I thought it was OK, but a bit bland and I just am not One), Greg and I came back to our guest house (called Tiree I think) and went to the Royal Commonwealth Pool. Rick Steves must come from a deprived pool background. It is hardly the largest pool I've ever seen though it is well designed. What Greg and I wanted though were the water slides. If these are the longest in Europe Europe has a ways to go yet. But, the slides, really tubes, were a blast. Being tubes you don't get to be outside and it is hard to see what's coming. But, that can work for you too. The fastest one is very very steep with one turn to slow you and you really feel that one. Both of us got slight head knocks on that one--the forces on you are very noticeable and that is where the fun lies. We had our few runs, no lines really, and over the couple hours all told we did get our £5.40 for the both of us worth out of it. We enjoyed ourselves a lot. We walked back to the B&B, about 20 minutes, and spaced out for the remainder of the afternoon. Everyone else continued walking and checked out the Royal Botanic Gardens which are, by all accounts, varied and nice.

Dinner at a very nice place called buffalo Grill. My steak was better than some in Ann Aror. Tomorrow we'll check out the castle and then see what comes up.

Day 14

We started the day by checking out St. Giles Cathedral (even though it doesn't have a bishop, which is what apparently designates something as a Cathedral, it is called one). This is an ancient church that I think dates back to the 12th century or so. Unlike Yorkminster it possesses a much more dour feeling about it since its ceiling, columns, walls, and floor are all dark stone shades. It wasn't inviting unlike the church in the round we'd seen earlier in the week (not sure how old that was).

We then visited the Edinburgh Castle on Castle Rock. My first impression of the castle was that it wasn't as impressive up close as it was far away. This was a false impression since up close I was seeing the 100 year old new gatehouse. Once you pass through the gatehouse you see the full scope and size of the castle. We were provided with audio/textual tour guides that were a joy to use since they were CD-ROM based and had a wealth of information on them nicely spoken with good background music and sound. According to the history on the castle and its rock they believe it was first used by a group of people who originally named it Doneaton around 600 (or was it 800) A.D.. Eventually after being conquered by the English it was given its current name of Edinburgh.

We were given a brief introductory tour by a lowlander brigade military man (only the highlanders where the kilts; lowlanders where trousers). His tour took us through the 7 defensive gates--gates 5 through 7 being quite imposing including the portcullis--and two dry ditches that were spanned by drop bridges. Drop bridges are neat. They remain flat all the time, but their primary support is provided by a couple pins which can be easily removed. Once removed by the castle defenders anything weighing more than 9 pounds that crosses the bridge causes it to collapse into the stake filled ditch killing the people on the bridge and preventing, temporarily, others from crossing. It didn't do much good in the long run.

Once inside the gates you realize that this medieval castle is more than just a castle, but an entire small city. It's a garrison and royal residence with facilities to house numerous troops and store provisions for an extended siege (again with limited success--i.e., Lang Sea siege where William Cullcuddy [sp?] held his ground for 2 years for Mary Queen of Scotts, but lost in 2 weeks once a serious bombardment began collapsing David's Tower and fouling the forewell which was the only source of water). Unlike the palaces of Austria, and perhaps Hollyrood Palace which I did not see, this is quite clearly a fortress and it is appointed as such.

But, within its walls we found places that were charming and also those that clearly showed it was a place for royalty. St. Margaret's Chapel was one example. This very small homely chapel was used by royalty and resident military for services and weddings. It was plain, no big Gothic vaulting, but warm and comfortable nonetheless. Margaret's husband was Scotland's king during the first half of the 11th century (I think) and when he died it is said she died soon after of a broken heart. The chapel was built in her honor and she was sainted in recognition of the good works she did during her life. It is, they say, the oldest building in Edinburgh though I think St. Giles Cathedral can't be much younger.

After the castle came lunch and some general wandering about the streets. This led to my purchase of a wool scarf with Navaho-esque designs and a gorgeous wool blanket done in blues and other colors. I then purchased from the Scottish Gallery, which Mom thinks is around a 100 years old and has always dealt in contemporary art whatever that meant for the time, two inexpensive prints. The woodcut of a cityscape was especially good since it was the first print in a very short run. The other print, called the Coast Road (though I think Ghost Road would be good too) is also quite nice done in many hues of blue and azure. Mom and Dad bought a vase they had seen the previous day and it is quite a striking piece too.

Dinner at Buffalo Grill again, I give this place high marks they make better steaks and burgers than many places I can name back home, and then dessert and coffee at the Metropolitan which has a very nice coffeehouse. We played Chinese checkers and Mom won both times. She first played just Greg and then she beat Jane, Greg, and myself quite handily. Not my vacation for games since I have also yet to win at cribbage.

The only dark spot on the day was that I got a bit ill during the afternoon and that wasn't fun. I don't know if I should blame the water slides and my slight bump on the head or the veggie burger I had at Bann's. I think the latter. I also failed to get a good coaster and try out a good pub while in Scotland and that is a shame. I must manage this tonight.

Day 15

Again not really covered. We were back in London, but if we did anything I do not recall the details. We had dinner with the Naomi and David at an Indian restaurant. The following morning we flew home.


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