Tuesday, May 2, 2017

North England

Hello! Hi! Long time, no post. Sorry about that. I've been traveling!

In this post, you'll be taken through the six day journey I went on to Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham.

One of my goals was to travel within the UK while during my trip abroad. After touring Ireland and Scotland, I set my eyes on Northern England. I picked these places based on their locations to each other and some of the tourist sites, but mostly I just went in blind and figured out what I wanted to do on a day-to-day basis.

The first stop was to Chester, known for it's Tudor-style architecture and Roman city remains. Chester was a really neat town, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. From London, I took Virgin trains from Euston station (about a 3hr ride to Chester).

Eastgate Clock, Chester

Although it is small, it can be easily walked. If you chose to walk the Chester city walls (I would highly suggest it) it will take approximately 1.5hrs to do. Chester was once an enclosed city ruled by the Romans, hence the stone walls and multiple gates and watch towers. You can get some cool views from the walls, but don't expect a birds eye view. Check out the Roman Gardens when you are at the Newgate and also see the Roman Amphitheater (in the same area).

King Charles Tower

King Charles Tower

Chester City Walls overlooking the Abbey Fields

Chester is also close to the Wales border, which is across the River Dee. When you walk along the city walls, you can get nice views across the river (although it's still England). As with all castles, they are positioned carefully. the same can be said about the Chester Castle, which is along the River Dee. Unfortunately, I couldn't go in, as they were closed, but maybe you'll have better luck.

South side of the Chester City Walls
Chester is also known for shopping at the Rows. Basically a second story of shops above the street. It kind of looks like a really long porch with store fronts.

The Rows at Chester

Second stop was Liverpool. I hopped on the train once again, which took roughly one hour. Arriving at the land of the Beatles, I wanted to do something Beatles related at least. Unfortunately, there was a down pour of rain from the moment I got there.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral  
Albert Dock

Outside of Quay Confectionary
While at Liverpool, I went to the Beatles Story Museum and Tate Liverpool to escape the rain. Later on, I found this fantastic fabric shop: Abakhan Fabrics. Their "bargain basement" was fantastic. Everything was calculated by weight, and I got some pretty good finds! They have a few locations around England, so check them out (I am kicking myself because they have a location in Chester, but at the time, I didn't know it!).

The accommodation is not worth noting.

The next location was Manchester, where I did most of my shopping. I was staying in a hipster-y part of the neighborhood so there were plenty of  thrift stores and boutiques. I traveled here with National Express (coach service), the trip took just over one hour.

Manchester Central Library

Manchester City Council

Manchester Cathedral
While in Manchester, I walked around the city exploring the different parts of town (Medieval Quarter, Civic Quarter, Central District, etc.).

Accommodation here was okay. I stayed at Hatters Hilton Chambers. It was clean and spacious and centrally located, although a little run down. The room was cold, but I think that was because a window was left open by mistake.

On to the next stop which was Leeds. Leeds was similar to Manchester in many ways. Hipster-y with lots of boutiques, independent shops and restaurants, but who's complaining when it gives a city identity?

I took the train here from Manchester, and scored a really good deal! My ticket was only £2!!! Albeit, I was on the (super) slow train, so that's probably why. Never mind though, I got to my destination in good time. I should also note here that each morning I would wake up early so I could catch my bus or train at around 7:30/ 8:00 most times. I wanted to optimize my day at each location, which meant and early call time. One could also travel at night so the day can be started wherever you are. The problem with that is luggage storage, as check out is usually 10:30am. Some places will let you store your luggage after you are supposed to be check out, others only store before you check in.

Anyway: Leeds. The Leeds City Market is interesting, and you should definitely pop in. So is the Corn Exchange, which is a building with lots of different merchants selling hand made goods. Leeds also has these areas called "Arcades" which are buildings with a fancy glass hallway roof that are filled with stores. Apparently, the ones in Leeds are well known. They are worth checking out. There are a mix of independent shops and chain shops.

Leeds Civic Hall

Queens Arcade

Victoria Quarter

Inside Trinity Leeds

While at Leeds I decided to go to Harewood House and escape the city. The House itself is kept/ restored to it's Victorian time state. The property is huge boasting a church, farm, courthouse and four gardens.

To get there, I took the 36 Bus from New Briggate at the N2 stop. Alight at the Harewood stop. I spent most of the late morning/ early afternoon here, and then heading back into the city to shop/ walk around before it was time to have dinner.

Harewood House: At the Main Gate

Harewood Hosue: All Saints Church

Harewood House 

Harewood Hosue: East Garden 

Harewood House: Terrace

Harewood House: Bird Garden

Harewood House: Lakeside Garden

Harewood House: Outside of the Walled Garden looking back on the house

Harewood House: Walled Garden

The night was spent at the Art Hostel. It was very clean and spacious. The lighting in my room could be better, especially around the bed area. I chose the private room with a bathroom (and because of that, I got the pink room). At this hostel, you can rent private rooms or you have the option of a dorm style room (6-8 beds per room). Not all private rooms have a private bathroom (like the private rooms that sleep 4), but the toilets were really clean, so that's no worry (not sure about the shared bathroom, as I didn't have to use it).

The pink room

After a good nights rest, it was off to the final stop: Nottingham (do not confuse with Notting Hill). Again, went here via train. Nottingham was a favourite location of mine, and I'm not sure if that's because I spent two days here. I stayed two days so I could leave back for London the morning of the third day and arrive in Epsom at a good time, rather than really late at night. 

Things I did in Nottingham were: the Castle (not really a castle), the underground caves, Framework Knitters Museum and Wollaton Hall & Park.

The first day was spent doing the castle and the caves. 

Robbin Hood Statue in the Nottigham Castle Garden

Bridge in the Nottingham Castle Garden

Nottingham Castle

View from Nottingham Castle Eastern Terrace

Entrance to Nottingham Castle Museum & Galleries

Nottingham Cave

More Caves!

Outside Nottingham Castle, Bottom of Mortimer's Hole, this was once a home

The second day, I went out of the city to a town called Ruddington where the Framework Knitters Museum is based.

The museum was in a house typical of framework knitters: you can tell by the long row of windows that allowed the operators to take advantage of available day light. All the machines were in working order, and I got to try one used to make socks! It was crazy to see the types of things they could make with these machines. The type of knit they could do would get very intricate at times.

I thought I would spend all day in the town of Ruddington, but it was actually very small. Instead I went to Wollaton Hall & Park, a quick bus ride west of the city center. An Elizabethan mansion built between 1580 ad 1588, it is now home to a natural history museum. While here, I took a below the stairs tour consisting of the Tudor kitchen, Admiral Bath and cellar.

Wallaton Park

Wallaton Park

Wallaton Hall

Accommodation was at the Igloo Backpackers Hostel. One of the better places I stayed at. Reception was super kind, the room was very spacious, the bed was comfy and the room was very clean. Unfortunately, there was no ensuite bathroom, instead there were three 3-piece bathrooms, all of which were very clean and well kept. I would recommend looking at this place if you are curious for somewhere cheap to stay.

Somehow, that's the end of my journey. I returned to London via National Express, a bus ride which took about three hours to reach London Victoria Coach Station.


See you in the next one. Chels

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