We did not go into the castle, but we would have had we had more time. Instead, we spent the day enjoying the town and the markets.
We also drove out to the coastal town of Silloth to see the Irish Sea. It was cold. And very windy.
I really enjoyed our time in Carlisle because it was so laid back and peaceful. There was plenty to do, but there wasn't the urgency that you feel sometimes in the more common tourist destinations. If we ever get to do England again, I think it will be a lot more time in the countryside exploring the smaller towns. Before that happens though, we still need to get to Ireland!
We also stopped off for a few hours in Windermere where we hiked up a hill for an amazing panoramic view of the Lake District. Windermere is an adorable town and would have been worth a few days of our time. Lots of lovely hiking and quaint shops in the town.
After a long, but enjoyable day in the car, we ended up at a converted barn in Carlisle where we were greeted by some fantastic AirBnb hosts and a lovely homemade chocolate cake and a few bottles of wine.
It was really a perfect day of travel.
The boys' lunches at the Teddy Bear tea room included a tiny stuffed animal. Oliver was instantly in love with York.
We made sure to do more than just wander around the wet, narrow streets of York for three days. One of Derek's must-do stops on the trip was the National Railway Museum to check out the trains.
You'll notice Owen has a new jacket on in the above photos. Turns out that rain gear is pretty difficult to find in Abu Dhabi, so when the cold, rainy weather found us, we had to scramble to find something to keep the poor kid dry. Lucky for us, the first second hand shop that we stopped in had something that would work for him, and it only cost us a couple of pounds! Check out how bundled up we all are in the pictures!
Thank goodness there were so many places to stop for hot tea while we explored the city.
I sure do love tea.
I also love old buildings. The older the better. So being able to walk the ancient city walls almost the entire way around York was very exciting for me.
Yup. There was a stop on one of the old city gates that had a little cafe, so we had a snack on the city wall of York.
We also got to check out York's castle with it's impressive Clifford's Tower. Back in the 900's, York was a Viking city. In the late 1000's, William the Conqueror had the castle built to help control the city. It has been used for several purposes over time and unfortunately burned most of the way down in the 1600's and was never fully restored.
Directly next to Clifford's Tower is an old jail house that has been converted into a museum. There is a lot of modern history (including the history of the candy making that is prevalent in York), and you can tour some of the old jail cells if you are interested.
York was well worth our time, and I could have easily spent a few weeks there taking it all in. I hope to come back someday!
We did enjoy the birds of prey show while we were there, and it was interesting to read about how the castle transformed through the generations. I'm glad we went, but it is not something we would go out of our way to ever see again.
Bath was a relaxed town, and we spent a lot of time meandering about the city. We saw the Jane Austin Museum, the Circus building, the Royal Crescent, and an amazing park that we struggled to tear the boys away from.
My absolute favorite moment in Bath was when we hiked from our AirBnb to the top of a hill overlooking the entire town. We brought tiny canvases and colored pencils for the boys, and they spent a good hour drawing the landscape that they saw in front of them. Oliver's was fairly abstract, but captured the colors of the town well. Owen's focused on the many layers of the town. They both put a ton of work into the drawings which became gifts for their grandparents. It was such a relaxed, reflective moment in the trip, and I am certain I will remember them making those drawings for life.
It's moments like these that make travel with children so wonderful.
There was an armed forces and veterans event taking place, and it was PACKED. After a long wait in the chilly breeze, we finally got into the dockyard area. Our timing was perfect because as we walked in they were making a last call for the ferry ride around the harbor. We hopped onto the boat and listened to the story of the dockyard and all the ships that are housed there. We even got to see a dolphin! It was a great way to start our visit.
Along with wreckage of the actual ship, archeologists were able to recover a remarkable number of remains including one of the captain's dogs. Owen was impressed with the fully intact combs, game pieces, and coins that were on display.
Portsmouth was a a bit out of the way of the rest of our trip, but I am glad we made it down there. The boys experienced so much history and took way some lifelong learning.
The place we stayed was about half way between Portsmouth and South Hampton. It was a little cabin near the water and very relaxing after a few days in London. We spent the rest of the day just hanging out to recover from the drive. It was surprisingly chilly, but that didn't seem to bother the brothers.
Day Three of our trip was very busy. We managed to see St. James Cathedral, Platform 9 3/4, the British Museum, and the London Eye all in the same day. It was another 7+ mile day for the boys, and they did wonderfully!
St. James Cathedral
Platform 9 3/4
After our hike to the top of the cathedral, we took the underground to King's Cross Station to see Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. It was a cool station, and the platform was there, complete with a luggage cart and a two hour wait to take a picture with it. We opted against the wait as we were all getting pretty hungry already, but we did check out the Harry Potter gift shop.
The British Museum
The London Eye
We had a wonderful time in London being tourists. We found the city to be welcoming and felt safe the entire time we were there. I loved the city and can't wait to go back when the kids are a bit older to experience the Harry Potter Studios.
We got to the castle early and ordered our tickets online to save a few pounds. We were able to see the Crown Jewels without much queueing, and had some delicious tea and scones with clotted cream at a little cafe on the grounds. We had a great time, even though London was experiencing a major heat wave!
Great Britain 2017
The blog entries from our trip to London, Portsmouth, Bath, York, the Lake District, and Edinburgh in the summer of 2017.