Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Birthday trip

I am back from a lovely birthday weekend visiting four historic towns and villages in the East Midlands of England. This came about because a few months ago I did some research to see which English counties I had never been to and there are only four. (It wasn’t easy trying to determine which are English counties or not as they have changed over the years and some are regarded as ceremonial counties and others as administrative counties – so I went with the lot!).

This trip was to two of the remaining four – Huntingdonshire and Rutland (with side trips to some others!). The map shows you how close they are (hope you can see it). Huntingdon and St Ives to the bottom right of the map (St Ives is not listed on this map but is about where the final letters of Huntingdon are!) and Stamford and Oakham toward the top left.

So on Saturday 30 April I took the train and bus down to St Ives, firstly (formerly in Huntingdonshire, now Cambridgeshire). A lovely ancient town with a fabulous medieval bridge which incorporates a chapel. Unfortunately my camera was playing up but it was a lovely bridge. It was overcast at that moment but the rest of the trip was beautifully sunny!

I had a great hike from St Ives to Huntingdon (now in Cambridgeshire, too). The route took me through Godmanchester which has some lovely tudor buildings. This one had a sign saying it was the Manor House.

There was a lovely bridge and mill between Godmanchester and Huntingdon (which was founded by the Anglo-saxons and Danes and was the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell).

(Not that I was comfortable - as I am a royalist - being in the birthplace of the man who made England into a republic, albeit briefly! LOL. However I also stepped foot on roman roads!)

And it was there stayed overnight in a 17th century coaching inn.

The next day I embarked back on the train (and had a quick stop off in Peterborough as I had a wait for my connection – Peterborough has a great cathedral where Catherine of Aragon is entombed)

Then came my third main stop – Stamford (in Lincolnshire). It was a stunningly beautiful place regarded as England’s finest stone town with over 600 listed buildings.

My final visit of the day was in Oakham (in Rutland) – a classic market town mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 with an unusual collection of over 200 horseshoes hanging from the walls of Oakham Castle - where I stayed overnight to awaken on my birthday.

Monday 2 May dawned – birthday day – and I had a walk about Oakham and thankfully avoided getting locked in the stocks! before getting the train back home to York to open birthday pressies and have a meal out with a friend.

I visited medieval buildings and bridges, ruined castles and priories, ancient stocks and marketplaces and saw some beautiful countryside. I now need a holiday to recover from the trip!

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