We left the M6 and crossed the country via Sedbergh and Aysgarth. I had not seen Aysgarth since the late 60's and was glad to see that the Falls were as lovely as I remembered. We stopped at Masham for a light lunch and had a desultory wander around the town centre but noticed nothing of real interest. We then went to Ripon and had a bit of a mooch around for an hour, the cathedral has the most stunning pulpit I have ever seen. Totally incongrously in a Gothic building it has a beautiful Art Nouveau pulpit made from bronze and copper - it is worth going to Ripon for that alone. There are some lovely windy streets with very interesting architecture and an imposing main square.
We then went to Fountains Abbey and had a good walk around the grounds. I particularly wanted to see the stained glass window which is a memorial to the Vyner daughter who was killed whilst serving in the WRNS during the second world war. I last saw it when I was doing my army trade training at Catterick in 1968, a nasty cold Wednesday afternoon was too bad for any sports so we were all piled into a bus and taken to Fountains. At that time I became very emotional - I suppose because I was seventeen (she was eighteen) and in uniform and I could identify with her. I still felt the same way over forty years later. I got quite choked up.
We then headed for York and found a Travelodge on the Tadcaster Road which could fit us in for one night - we had reservations from the following day at a posh hotel. The Travelodge was fine, clean and basic as usual. However, the adjoining Little Chef was a revelation, it was brilliant. I ordered steak and chips with no great anticipation but it was extraordinarily good by any standard. The steak was perfectly rare, the chips were crisp and hot, the wine (a Chardonnay) was delicious and the salad dressing perfect. The following morning's coffee, toast and marmalade were also perfect. I have not been in a Little Chef for years but will certainly try them again after this experience.
We drove into York proper and straight into the car park of our hotel, The Royal York which is right next to the station. The car remained parked for the next three days and we walked everywhere.