The Abbey Trail – Day I

Post 297: 27 September 2018, Kirkstall Abbey to Otley. 

After an exciting summer, with visits to Bavaria, The Orkneys, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland, it was now time to start a new long-distance walk in Yorkshire, my 57th, The Abbey Trail.

P1130420This runs for 116 miles from  Kirkstall Abbey to Whitby taking in seven historic buildings at Kirkstall, Fountains, Byland, Rievaulx, Lastingham, Rosedale and Whitby. However, we would be completing the walk mainly in day circular walks giving a mileage of probably over 200 miles.

However, on the first section we decided to drive out to Otley, catch a bus to Kirkstall Abbey and walk back to Otley, 11 miles walking according to the guide book. After parking in the centre of Otley (£3.60 for all day and hence a lot cheaper than York at about £10) Sid the Yorkshireman used the public conveniences at 30p, which is a lot cheaper than Iceland at between £1-£2! This was quite a historic occasion for him to pay to go to the toilet!

As we left the car park we started to chatting to a very friendly elderly local who turned out to be catching the same bus and was able to act as a ‘guide’ to the area telling us of all the changes that had happened over the years. He also told us to catch the 9.31am bus as it was free for those who had bus passes (Contrast York is free after 9am). Out of 5 of us only Geordie Caz had to pay, but even that was only about £3, again a lot cheaper than York especially as the journey was to take 50 minutes!

The elderly gentleman kindly told us where to get off the bus and we posed at the impressive start of the walk in exceptionally good warm autumn weather.P1130397

IMG_3294The walls of the abbey are more complete than those of any other Cistercian abbey in England. 13 monks and 10 lay brothers from Fountains Abbey established the abbey on 19 May 1152. The monks grew rich through the keeping of sheep and the wool trade. The Abbey was surrendered to the Crown on 22nd November 1539.

The strange thing was that although we had had lived within about an hours drive of the abbey for over 30 years, it was the first time some of us had been, although we had often seen it from the train.

P1130387P1130388We then followed the River Aire to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and past some student residences (formerly the Mackeson Brewery). A sign says Liverpool is 124 miles and by coincidence I had only recently been there.  Horse drawn barges would have made the journey at a much slower pace than the train I had caught to LiverpoolP1130399

P1130400There are some impressive locks on the canal, making a good stop for our coffee and banana break.  P1130402We followed the canal for a few miles to Rodley where we left it. P1130403After passing the Railway Pub and a large packhorse bridge, which has grooves from cartwheels, we reached and followed the River Aire.

The river bank was being repaired by Leeds City Council staff and volunteers. We found the repairs made a good back rest for our lunch in the sun. They were doing a splendid job of keeping the path open. P1130404 Here we left the river and started heading north towards and through Guiseley. It was bear country. P1130406We passed the imposing St. Oswald’s Church, which was originally built in 1150, being rebuilt in the 13th-century. P1130407

P1130408Continuing north we passed through Greenbottom and under the flight path for Leeds-Bradford airport. We eventually reached Chevin Forest Park.P1130411



P1130410Surprise View can be found here with fabulous views below towards Otley and Wharfedale. P1130412All that remained now was a steep descent into Otley and a chance to put the feet up. P1130417Otley is quite a cycling area and this area, centred on Harrogate, will host the World Cycling Championships in September 2019. P1130419The jokes on the walk were as bad as ever. When we passed an old asylum now an upmarket housing estate, Sid the Yorkshireman said you would have to be mad to live there. When we approached the Abbey on the bus the elderly gentlemen said you go up at the cemetery. Sid the Yorkshireman quipped “I thought I would not be going up today”.

Miles Walked (Fitbit) 12

Calories 3790

Steps 28,212











A Walk around Liverpool – Part III

Post 296: 20 September 2018, The Terracotta Warriors Exhibition

It was now time to walk to the main reason for which we had come to Liverpool. No it wasn’t the Labour Party conference. We were on a 10am timed entrance to the Terracotta Warriors exhibition.

It was being held at the World Museum, which was not far from the Premier Inn where we were staying.P1130248

P1130250We had a little time to spare before the opening and so were able to walk around William, Brown and Lime Streets.

St George’s Hall is in Neoclassical style and contains concert halls and law courts. It is grade 1 listed and very impressive. The building opened in 1841.




P1130265Nearby, at the top of William Brown Street, is a huge memorial to the Duke of Wellington, known as Wellington’s Column or the Waterloo Memorial.  P1130256


P1000066Less impressive is the Unite building! P1130255There is also the library with an interesting entrance.P1130252In the distance could be seen the St John’s Beacon Viewing Gallery. P1130251Eventually it was time to enter the exhibition to be met by China’s first emperor.  P1130271

P1130270For over 2,000 years, an underground army of life-sized terracotta warriors secretly guarded the tomb of china’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, until a chance discovery in 1974 unlocked mysteries of a vanished empire. If your confused below about a different name for the First Emperor it is because he changed his name from Ying Zheng to Qin Shi Huang. P1130299


P1130274What is surprising about the exhibition is the number of artefacts on display, which were buried with various emperors.P1130282














P1130338Horses, carriages, animals, servants and concubines were all buried with the emperors


P1130344P1130345However, the highlight of the splendid exhibition are the life-sized warriors.P1130311




P1130319There are examples of how the warriors were made. P1130329The detail is staggering. P1130292Leaving the exhibition, it seems fitting, on seeing the memorial nearby, to remember the victims of the Hillsborough Football disaster who, on the 15th April 1989, went to an FA Cup semi-final and many (96 fatalities) did not return or had severe injuries (766 ).  I used to go to semi-finals at Villa Park when a teenager, but always came home.


P1130350Also to remember those who gave their lives in the World WarsIMG_3187 It is not only Emperors who should be remembered……………………

Miles walked 5



A Walk around Liverpool – Part II

Post 295: 19 September 2018

My dad said when I was 13 in 1965 that “the Beatles would not last”. To a teenage fan of the Beatles this was sacrosanct to treason. How could they not last – they had just appeared at the Shea Stadium in New York and had taken America by storm. 55,600 fans had attended the performance. Prior to the 1960s this was unheard of.

My dad was a lover of Beethoven and classical music and, as far as I was concerned, just didn’t understand the excitement of Beatles, who were a crucial and instrumental part in the changing nature of society in the 1960s.

Of course I was able to remind him well into his old age that the Beatles music and influence had in fact lasted for a very long time.

On our walk around Liverpool I couldn’t therefore resist going to see the Double Fantasy John and Yoko exhibition in the Museum of Liverpool.

Having not long returned from Reykjavik Iceland, it was interesting to see information at the exhibition about the Imagine Peace campaign.

IMG_3196P1130241We would all like peace and John Lennon was a great promoter of peace. It is ironic that his life was cut short by a violent action when he was shot in New York in 1980. P1130243IMG_3200What is staggering and shocking is the number of people killed in the U.S.A by guns since Lennon’s death. IMG_3198Lennon used unorthodox methods to promote peace. P1130245


20th September 2018

The next day, after a visit to the Terracotta Warriors Exhibition (next blog), I was able to visit where ‘the Beatles’ had begun. P1130351


Eleanor Rigby IMG_3186


Cilla Black P1130356



Then it was time for a drink and music in the Cavern Club.
















It had taken over 50 years to get there, but it was well worth the wait…………….



A Walk around Liverpool – Part I

Post 294: 12th September 2018

Whilst I was ‘swanning’ around Bavaria (actually walking), Celia, my wife, booked a 2 day trip for us to Liverpool in a Premier Inn in Vernon Street. On arrival there I did wonder whether she had chosen the location because there is a Husband Creche and Care Package nearby which would allow her to go shopping unhindered. Not that I ever moan about shopping of course. This seemed a better offer than when I was ‘left’ outside an H&M in Munich, whilst my German walking friend went shopping in 4 shops!

P1130246Seriously, Celia had actually booked tickets for the Terracotta Warriors exhibition the following day for a 10.00am timed entry. Arriving at Lime St stationP1130267it was a short walk to the Premier Inn using our google app on the phone. Very useful but it certainly drains the battery on the phone and being of ‘bus pass age’ it took a bit of getting used to.

It was a bright sunny day and we had an afternoon free so decided to head to the dock area as we have in the past cruised from there. Liverpool is making a name for itself as a cruise destination as the fairly recently developed docks are near to the city centre, museum area and the area made famous by the Beatles (more of that later).  As they proudly say ‘Where else could you park a cruise liner in the city centre’.IMG_3202I could think of a few other cities, but sufficient to say at this stage that the cruise terminal welcomes more than 57 ships and 100,000 passengers and crew. It brings £7 million into the city’s economy. A new terminal under construction at Princes Jetty will enable bigger liners to berth in Liverpool and start and finish in Liverpool. It tends to be only the smaller cruise ships that can do this at present.

One thing your always guaranteed in Liverpool is a smile, music and humour. P1130269

P1130245You might see some unusual sights too.

There is a variety of architecture too, old and new in the dockland area. P1130214







P1130222You might even meet the Beatles there. IMG_3194Also prepare to be dazzled with colour P1130221P1130219


P1130224We were fortunate to be able to do a tour of the Edmund Gardner pilot ship, obtaining free tickets from the nearby Liverpool Museum.

It was a fascinating introduction to how piloting used to operate on this ship in the Mersey from 1953, until 1981 when she came out of service.

The tour took about one and a half hours and was well worth it. We were surprised as to what a large area the pilot ships from Liverpool covered. The pilots were well respected in the area and were well recompensed in their employment. P1130232  We then went to the Museum of Liverpool  to visit the Double Fantasy John and Yoko exhibition. This runs until 22 April 2019 (see next blog).

And when you have finished in Liverpool you can always cycle, horse-ride or walk over to Yorkshire….


Lake Pickering Circuit 4: Why are all the toilets closed? Back to THE bog, Stripping in the car park.

Post 293:  29 August 2018,

Hovingham to Slingsby Banks

We parked in the Hovingham village hall car park and soon found ourselves in Hovingham Park and a field of cows. But judging by the hall and green grass these were quite content cows and had no interest in us.P1130170
P1130171After Airyholme and Howthorpe Farms we headed to Wath Beck and crossed it over a footbridge. The immediately raised alarm bells as some years previously I had sunk up to my knees in the ONLY proper bog I have ever found in the Howardian Hills.

I have only ever been deep in bogs on three occasions (the other two were on the Inn Way, North York Moors last  winter, on a section of the  Lyke Wake Walk). Perhaps I need to go to Specsavers to spot them? No – just remembered I already go to Specsavers.

This bog was totally unexpected. On the Pennine Way or Lyke Wake Walk one expects them, but not here! The only way I could stop myself sinking below my knees was to sit down and distribute my weight more evenly. Sid the Yorkshireman thought it hilarious and, instead of giving me a hand to get out, just fumbled in his pocket for his mobile to take photos. You know who your friends are in a crisis. My trekking pole bent as I went down!




We knew we were back at the exact spot as the same tree can still be seen in the background. However, many plants have grown since and we have had one of the best and driest summers ever.  This time the bog had largely dried up.

P1130173We carried on to Terrington and sat on a bench at the public school with a view over the fairly new tennis courts.P1130174We then visited All Saints Church, Terrington, which dates from the Norman period. What struck us was the board with all the names of the Rectors going back to 1234! All the Kings and Queens are listed too. P1130177

P1130175P1130176What also hit us was the number of people who had sacrificed their lives in two World Wars, particularly the First World War, from such a small village and parish (the population in 2011 was only 459). Some families had up to 4 members lost. P1130179Rolling Yorkshire countryside beckoned us on. P1130180Until we got to Thurtle Wood and were surprised to find an abandoned camp. P1130182Geordie Caz thought it was very ‘convenient’ of them to leave some toilets for us, until she found they were all locked.

I eventually found one unlocked. Well I do have a talent when it comes to finding ‘bogs’ (for overseas readers this is also slang for toilets and hope it does not get lost in translation).

We then descended and ascended to Fryton East Wood and came across a sign at Fryton Lane. P1130187There was also a mosaic to commemorate the trail and millennium, with Castle Howard featuring strongly.  P1130186Sid the Yorkshireman found a sign on the floor and decided it might be a good idea to take the sign with him so as not to get lost. P1130194I think he had been on the mushrooms. P1130192

P1130193After Fryton West Wood we descended back to Hovingham. P1130196


All that remained was for us to take our boots off and drive home. This was a bit different to the occasion when I was covered in mud at which point I had to take my trousers off in the village hall car park, not realising that there was a ladies fitness class going on in the nearby village hall. Rumour has it that Hovingham ladies had never had such excitement……….. 

It is a pity that the ambitious plans in the 1830s to develop Hovingham Spa with hot and cold baths, mud baths and a cold plunge did not come to fruition.

Miles Walked 12

Calories Burnt 2,999

Steps Taken 27,037





Lake Pickering Circuit 3: A Walk of Churches.

Post 292: 21 August 2018, Slingsby to Coneysthorpe Banks 

Having survived over 5,000 miles to Greenland and back, including hitting an iceberg in the middle of the night (see previous blogs), it was back to beautiful Yorkshire and a ‘fill in’ walk pending starting a new project after the summer holidays. During the summer Sid the Yorkshireman and Geordie Caz had gone off to walk 100 miles more of the South-West coastal path, this time from Minehead to Westward Ho! It was reported that Geordie Caz had boot trouble (that is falling apart), but at the time of writing no further details are available…..

Returning from Greenland I have also had computer software problems and had to update from Yosemite to High Sierra. Despite it taking a long time to get up and running again Apple Support in Portugal, Ireland and the Philippines have been very helpful! Unfortunately, Adobe no longer support Photoshop Elements 13 and so I have abandoned use of that as I have been unable to ‘reconnect’ my photographs to their files. Not being an IT specialist, I find the Forums information not that easy to follow.

Fortunately, I had already transferred my photographs to Apple Photos and in the new upgrade it is much improved and so I am going to stick with that. Hopefully you will not notice any difference and the photographs will be at their usual standard (good or bad!).

We started walking in the village of Slingsby, which is north of Castle Howard. All Saints Church was first built in 1157 and rebuilt in 1869. It is quite large and has a fine chandelier.P1130160P1130162P1130161There is an interesting memorial to a master mariner. P1130164A plaque shows the rents in 1712 were a little less than now. P1130163Slingsby Castle is in need of some tlc.P1130159From Slingsby we headed to Barton-le-Street where the St Michaels’ Church was also rebuilt in 1871.

It has Norman stone carving from the original building. The porch and main entrance are impressive. P1130140P1130141Then we headed on to Appleton-le-Street, which has a population of approximately 117 (2001).

Further on Amotherby’s St Helen’s Church is hidden in trees and again was largely rebuilt in 1871. It still has its Norman south door and the 16th century tower as well as some Anglo-Danish carved stones from before 1066, in the porch. P1130149                                                                        The bench there made a good coffee and banana break overlooking the garden area.

The inscription reads:

The Kiss of the Sun for Pardon

The Song of the Birds for Mirth

One is nearer God’s heart in a Garden

Than anywhere else on Earth. 

July 1917.

P1130146We headed up towards Coneysthorpe Banks Wood, where there was some interesting flora. P1130153After having lunch we passed Castle Howard in the far distance. P1130154After Slingsby Banks Wood, we descended back towards Slingsby and a horse encounter. P1130158It had been a hot and humid day.

Miles Walked 11.5

Calories Burnt 3491

Steps 25,274


Walking in the Orkneys, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland – Part 16, Iceland – Reykjavik Continued, Passing the Old Man and through the Pentland Firth and A Big Birthday.

Post 291: 14th August 2018, Reykavik

Having left the scene of the rescue (see previous blog), we continued alongside the dock area.



P1130031Then we came to an interesting exhibition about the port and ships that visit it. The train was one of two which were used in 1913 to construct the port.

P1130032 It is situated in front of the Art Museum.P1130034Currently over 135 cruise liners visit the port each year with over 128,000 passengers. Cruise liners have been coming since 1906. P1130035Controversially, whaling ships have and still do use the port.P1130036Between 1915-1973 many passenger ships used the port.P1130037 Coastguard vessels have operated since 1926 to date P1130038There are a number of companies that run whale watching trips from this area, Elding being one of the main ones. P1130051


P1130052 A little further on there is the Maritime Museum P1130044There is also an area where ships are overhauled.


I have heard of chaining your bike up so it doesn’t get stolen, but this seems to be carrying it too far!P1130048 Fish and chips are available at a price – £13.80! P1130039

Cakes are available at 17 Sortir near the harbourside. Ice-cream, including two flavours of liquorice, is available next door! Despite yawning, I had no room for cake after my ice-cream.


However, the locals were starting to get a bit fiery and so it was time to return by the now 3 mile coastal walk to the ship! P1130041By  the end of the day I had done 10.5 miles in total, 22,019 steps and burnt 3,315 calories. 

Marco Polo departed Reykjavik at 20.00 hours.

15 August 2018

This was a sea day. There is lots to do on ships on such days, quizzes, craft and art classes, crosswords, cooking demonstrations, exercise classes (to try and lose the weight you have put on during the cruise), gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, knit and natter, table tennis, lectures, bingo, quoits, golf putting and other deck games.

I tend to avoid all those, apart from the lectures, and either read a good book, check through my photos and/or go for long walks around the deck. Marco Polo is particularly good for deck walking due to a timber promenade deck all around the ship and an alternative wider deck avoiding the bow if the weather is bad. P1130108However, we had signed up for a cocktail tasting at 16.00 hours – 6 cocktails for £6.99. The surprise was that the cocktails were not small tasting glasses, but large ones. We had bellini, pina colada, kamikaze (down in one), ruski, Long Island iced tea, mai-tai.IMG_E3056The result was that some passengers ended up being helped out of the bar at the end by the staff and I ended up as in the photograph below! IMG_E3059

16 August 2018

This was another sea day but this was a special day as it was Celia’s birthday.P1060087Before the real celebrations began we had to go through the Pentland Firth between Hoy and John O’Groats. It is notorious for strong tidal currents, but fortunately was relatively calm. P1060089


P1060104The top of The Old Man of Hoy can just be seen peering over the top of the cliffs to the left. P1060106

P1060109Viking Sun passed by. P1130077The lighthouse near John O’Groat’s could just be picked out in the mist and diminishing light. P1060114It was interesting that Saga brought along one of their ships, Saga Pearl II especially for Celia’s birthday. That is forwarded, targeted marketing!  P1060097 Now I know you should never reveal a ladies age and it would be more than my life’s worth to do so. So I will just show the card I brought out at the formal farewell dinner in the evening. Just after the cruise it would be our 45th wedding anniversary and we have known each for  47 years. I must be doing something right!

P1130204It was a great menu for the meal and birthday celebrations. P1130205


P1130080Our waiter Iqbal had been superb throughout the cruise. P1130084The Gala Dinner was later followed by the Gala Buffet, not that we had room for any more food!


17th August 2018 

After a reasonable sunrise on another sea day, little happened. It was a lazy day reading and chatting and reflecting on the holiday.


18 August 2018

This was the departure day.

There was one last opportunity to capture a sunrise between 5.30 and 6.15am.  We arrived at Harwich at 9.00am.  P1130107





P1130125We then caught a coach to Hull and on arrival had a 2 hour delay as the taxi firm had sent a car instead of people carrier for 4 of us with full luggage! It was good to be back in England!IMG_3082It was a deja vu moment as when I got back to Manchester Airport from Bavaria in May it was the first day of the new train timetables and chaos reigned supreme!

We had travelled over 5900 miles (5,127 nautical miles) with hardly a hitch, apart from the odd iceberg hitting us.


All in all it had been a fabulous, exciting, informative and most memorable trip.

Would I go again?  Definitely, basing myself around the Nuuk area and perhaps exploring further north.  

I hope you have enjoyed my blog as much as I have enjoyed the trip.