In June 2018 a friend and I made a 10 day road trip through the UK. Bringing my own car on the ferry.
3 nights in Edinburgh (Scotland), celebrating Pride and visiting the town, and hiking up to Arthur’s Seat, the highest point on a hill by the town.
- 3 nights in Ambleside, the Lake District, Cumbria (northern England), where we hiked through the beautiful mountains.
- 3 nights in Halifax, Yorkshire (northern England), to experience the landscapes, architecture and funny accents that feature in TV series like Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley, Downton Abbey and more.
- Plus 2×1 night on board the DFDS ferry between IJmuiden and Newcastle at the start and the end of the trip. Which turned out to be fun! (Instead of just a necessity to get from A to B.) I’m so glad we took the boat instead of flying.
More details and photos below!
Part 1, Alnwick castle and Edinburgh
After arriving in Newcastle we had lunch in the center there. The town didn’t appeal to me much, even though I love rough and industrial-looking places. It was just either messy or very mainstream in the center. But maybe we did not see the interesting parts.
On the way over to Edinburgh we stopped at Alnwick Castle for a few hours, where parts of Downton Abbey were filmed in the library, and where parts of Harry Potter films were shot. Most visitors were exited about and searching for the Harry Potter corners. Me, I was most exited about knowing that ‘Mary’ of Downton Abbey had sat in that library! 😀
The castle is still owned by a branch of the royal family and functions as a winter house. In the summer season they open it to the public. It was decorated with such insane amounts of beautiful paintings, cabinets, carved tables, silverware and so on and so forth, that I soon felt overwhelmed and over-saturated. Who needs such extreme wealth? It was a perfect short stop and we had good jacked potato for lunch in its cafe.
We stayed in an apartment. I booked in through Booking.com but unfortunately it was not an official, licensed apartment agency, but just a random local resident subletting an apartment, which I am very much against. 😦 Such practices ruin the housing market for locals. Sorry, Edinburghers! I didn’t know it was such a place.
- LGBTQ Pride on Saturday! Walking with the parade, chatting with people and getting recommendations for the next parts of our trip, seeing the beautiful (!) university building from inside, enjoying parties and food there too.
- The ‘Royal Mile’, touristy but beautiful street(s) in the center.
- Nice cafes such as Love Crumbles for coffee, and The Regent gay bar for dinner / drinks.
- The general vibe and architecture in town.
- Hiking up to Arthur’s Seat, a hill beside the town, giving great views over Edinburgh, Leith and the sea.
Part 2: Lake District
We stayed in Lakes Lodge in Ambleside, a pretty town near various lakes in the Lake District. Restaurant tip in Ambleside: Lucy on a Plate. Their desserts menu is 2 pages! Just sayin’….
We did 2 beautiful hikes.
One from Ambleside via Loughrigg Terrace to Grasmere, another pretty village. Such a perfect hike. A bit up and downhill, not too straining, amazing views, and a beautiful big cave.
They sell lovely ginger bread in Grasmere. In the evening it rained very hard, but in daytime it was nice weather.
The next day, a circular hike from Ambleside, including a green hill with nice views over Lake Windermere, and some roman ruins. This walk was a bit too flat and short, we should have chosen a tougher one but my wobbly knee prevented me from daring to try that.
Part 3, Yorkshire
Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales national park
On the way to Halifax we stopped in Malham Cove, recommended to us by locals. Also used as background in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. A beautiful formation of limestone! I have never seen anything like it. The funny thing was that as you walked towards that cliff, the views and shapes seemed to change a lot all the time. And from the top it was just spectacular, especially for people like us who are used to super flat land and not being able to see very far.
Malham was a cute little touristy village with some nice cafes.
In Halifax, we stayed in the Wool Merchant Hotel, excellent value for money and great location. If you plan on staying there, ask for a room on the top floor, those are more modern, lighter, more airy and cool, and less noisy.
Halifax turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant town.
- Dean Clough, a former huge carpet factory (half a mile long!), now housing art galleries, cafes, companies, yoga studios, a hotel.
- Piece Hall, former cloth trading place, now a beautiful big square surrounded by 2 storeys of shops and cafes.
- Ricci’s restaurant for good Italian food and nice decorations.
We also visited Sheffield, it features precisely the sort of industrial architecture I was hoping to find in Yorkshire, and nice cafes serving good coffees and cakes, for example Tamper Sellers Wheel cafe.
Kelham Island in the north of Sheffield features a steel factory museum. Even though the museum wasn’t open on Saturday (what a weird day to be closed???!), we could still see a lot of nice buildings and big machines from the 19th century, and enjoyed a good lunch in a cafe nearby.
On our last day we stopped over in lovely York for a few hours, before making our way to Newcastle for the ferry home. We parked at a P+R at the edge of town and took the cheap bus into the center. Glad we did, because the whole center is car-free and it would probably have cost ages and lots of money to find parking space there.
York is like a fairytale! (if you ignore the modern tourists). So pretty and mellow. I guess this is also the first impression people get of central Amsterdam and its canals.
Unfortunately the Minster (big cathedral) was not yet open to the public, and would only open by the time we had to leave. We wandered through the pretty, ancient streets and through the Museum Gardens a bit, each going our own way, and met up again for lunch. By the time we left after lunch, it got really busy.
I slept like a baby on the rocking ship! I want a bed that sways like that. 🙂
Back home I also took a nap and then enjoyed watching more episodes of Last Tango in Halifax (click to watch it), such a nice series and one of the reasons for me wanting to go to Yorkshire. Definitely want to go back and visit places I didn’t get round to this time! Leeds, and going down a mine shaft, more of York, maybe some other towns…