UK Trip – York

For a recap of our adventures in London, see my previous post.

On Thursday morning we checked out of our London hotel and began our “real” vacation. Dustin took a few days off work so we’d have plenty of time to sightsee. We took a 2.5 hour train ride to York, which is midway between London and Edinburgh.

We arrived in York in the early afternoon and checked into our hotel. The hotel was a large converted house and it was really neat. We were on the top floor, which was up three steep flights of stairs, but the room was super nice, so all was forgiven.

Our main reason to visit York was to see York Minster, the largest Gothic church in the UK and the second largest in Northern Europe. It also has one of the largest collections of medieval stained glass in the world.

We paid to see the church and to climb the main tower. I figured I had conquered St. Paul’s dome, so this would be a breeze. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

The climb is 230 feet up 275 stairs. The spiral stairway is quite narrow, and once again it is one-way only. Once you start, you are committed. There are no landings and no place to stop and rest (except on the stairs themselves, blocking the people behind you). About halfway up, you transfer from the outer tower to the main tower. Outside. On a walkway along the roof that is about two feet wide.

York Minster Walkway
York Minster Walkway from the Ground
York Minster Walkway
Us on the York Minster Walkway

After the walkway of doom, the climb gets even narrower and steeper, if that’s possible. There is still no place to stop, and I had to stop on the stairs several times to catch my breath. Just when you think the stairway may go on to infinity, you reach the top. And you see this:

View from York Minster
View from York Minster

The pain is forgotten because the view is amazing. We had decent weather. It wasn’t super sunny, but it wasn’t actively raining, so I’m going to count that as a win.

You are allowed to wander around a take pictures for a while, but then it’s back down so the next tour can begin the climb–there is a single shared stairway.

York Minster Stairs
York Minster Tower Stairs – I’m happy because I’m descending.

The interior of the church is awesome. It’s hard to imagine that it was built hundreds of years ago.

York Minster Interior
York Minster Interior

That evening, we attended a sung Evensong service in the quire (yes, it is spelled like that). Because it was a Saint’s day, it was slightly more formal with the swinging incense and the whole bit. The service was fairly short–about forty-five minutes. The choir sang most of it, with a few very short spoken prayers and teachings. Even though I’m not Anglican, I thought it was lovely.

York Minster Quire
York Minster Quire

On Friday morning, we got up and caught a train to Edinburgh. Stay tuned for my next post about our adventures in Scotland…

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