29. April 2013 11 min read

Day 3 of UK adventure - York, Newcastle

York - Yorkshire

From Hull we turned towards Leeds where there was nothing to see. Leeds is quite modern city but it was a pleasant drive through the country. From Leeds we turned towards York. We came into Yorkshire before midday and parked a car near the Yorkshire tower. I must say parking fees are from 1 to 2 pounds per hour and we spent quite a lot of money on them. Once we parked our car we explored York by foot. The Yorkshire tower is inside of the city walls which remains still stand to protect the city center. It is on small hill on which we ascended and to our amazement there was entry fee. A kind staff informed us about English Heritage Card (you can read more below), which we purchased and had 9 days of sightseeing many castles, ruins and remains - including Stonehenge. The sight from Tower was amazing. It is far the highest point in the area and offers an astonishing view of the city. From tower we went to main street towards main square where the Hurricane airplane (World War II) was parked - promotion for Aviation museum. I am a fan of airplanes and especially interested in World War II, so this was quite a nice sight to get so close to things I love. We again walked towards Cathedral, but we just took a glimpse from outside as it seemed same style like Ely. Around the York Cathedral there are monuments for Yorkshire Regiment, which is and probably was one of the biggest infantry regiments in British Army. Brits are really proud of their military and you can notice that on every step. A strong national spirit is omnipresent. On our way back towards parked car we went by City Library and old Prison. We really wanted to check out Cold War Bunker, which was somewhere a bit outside the Yorkshire, but we could not find it. There were no signs towards it, no address in English Heritage brochure and this was one of our rare experiences when we could not find the tourist attraction. I hope they will improve that in future.

Sutton Bank and Byland Abby

We have picked a nice country road from York towards Newcastle, which was our destination for the day. On his road was Sutton Bank and the natural horse in the hill - something really worth seeing. The horse really seems like it is man made right next the top of the hill. We took some photos of it and then drove on. To our surprise roads here do not make many turns and when we came to hill the 25% hill sign surprised us. I have never seen so steep road - and it does not have turns. The hill was not really high, but we had to take it twice as we went to check Byland Abby which was again under the hill. Byland Abbey is a glorious ruin which was included in our English Heritage card. Otherwise it was a well maintained ruin, but without English Heritage card it would not really be worth visiting.


Original plans have changed a bit due to English Heritage card which has added quite some additional sights to our route, but Helmsley and Helmsley Castle was our primary sight for this day. The small town of Helmsley is in middle of hills and the ruins of castle are on display and preserved. We were hungry when we arrived and after we parked our car we found a small restaurant which claimed ˝Worlds most famous fish and chips˝. It did not really matter, but the traditional English cuisine was tempting. After entering Scotts of Helmsley restaurant it was a friendly and modern inside. Just something to attract me, as it seemed quite classy. Now the food, the Fish and Chips was AMAZING. At the time we were in Scotts of Helmsley, we also tried Yorkshire tea with milk (a bit too bitter for my taste), but we did not really taste any fish and chips before. You could pick Cod or Haddock for the fish and they are served HUGE. With peas and chips the taste was (what we found later) great. What I want to say is, that if you ever visit Helmsley just visit Scotts of Helmsley resturant for that fish and chips. It was not expensive at all (actually it was cheap comparing our meals in upcoming days) and the taste was... well godlike. Even thinking of the fish makes me want to eat it. I wish they would be able to export it somehow. So to point you once again: Scotts of Helmsley restaurant is THE BEST.
Now back to sights in England. Helmsley castle was the next on our list and there is not much remaining from original castle. Two towers with some middle building, some outside walls and ditches, but it does have a nice history museum inside the middle building. Quite an interesting read I can add and the remains with pictures of how it should be can easily spark your imagination and put you back in time. Beside all this it was in our English Heritage card.


It was in late afternoon when we drove from Helmsley in search for another Abby. This time it was Riveoux Abbey which was unfortunately closed at 6pm. It was as well in our English Heritage card, but we only took few photos of the ruin and continued our journey towards Sunderland. Once we arrived into Sunderland it was evening and there is not a single hotel in town. There was quite a problem finding a hotel and once we found some, they were not cheap at all. We found first McDonalds, logged to WiFi and surfed the internet to find hotel in Newcastle. It was a friendly pub Maiden Over, which had rooms as well. The woman in-keep was very friendly and of course football was on TV in whole bar. It was almost empty, but you could feel the English Football spirit inside. The rooms were great, but they had only bath (no shower), and cheap. There was also free WiFi totally to our service.

English Heritage Membership

Before we went to England we checked quite many websites, but did not notice some kind of Pass like this. English Heritage is some sort of national public body which has a really cheap pass to over 400 historical and archaeological sites all across England. With 20 pounds per person for 9 days it is well worth a purchase as every ruin we checked had an entry fee of around 5 pounds. With Stonehenge at more than 9 pounds entry fee this was a real bargain deal. We were lucky that we found staff offering this pass in our first attraction, because it made our trip really cheap. With this pass we really could explore the country as we pleased. Also 9 days pass (they also have 14 days and yearly passes) was perfect as this was just the amount of time we needed to get around United Kingdom. But you must be aware - not every ruin is from English Heritage as there is also English National Trust organization which also markets some of tourist attractions all around England as well as Wales. As usual you need to be careful what is included and what it is not. One more amazing thing about this English Heritage membership/English Heritage pass is that many attractions have free parking spots right beside the tourist attraction which makes them a lot easier to visit. I would really recommend this pass to anyone who will stay in England for more days and plans to visit castles, ruins everything outside and of course also inside London.

Armed with our new pass we were excited about all the forts and castles we will see, but ... You will need to check out day 4 of our adventure around Great Britain.

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