“A thought: (In response to my two most recent posts.) It is not normal to be without fear. Doing things in spite of the fear means we are brave.” John Helm
The day arrived when it was really time for me to really set off into the unknown, with just my suitcase for company. I knew it was not wise for me to attempt to drive on the other side of the road. I realized how much comfort, safety and sense of control I have derived from being able to get into my little car and take myself where ever I want to go. That morning I took a taxi from my Airbnb lodging to the Cheltenham Station to catch my train to York.
I retrieved my pre-paid ticket from the machine, asked directions to the right platform, had help stowing my bag, and settled in for the five hour ride north through the countryside to the ancient walled town of York. Upon arrival, I was intrigued at the evidence that commutting there obviously involved both bicycles and trains.
My modern, well-appointed Airbnb apartment was within walking distance of the station and very close to the city wall. There was a great corner grocery with fresh food available. I spent some of the chilly, rainy days reading, resting and doing on-line records research on my Rose family who lived in West Yorkshire.
I did also get out on foot to explore the fascinating, historic city where evidence of Viking, Saxon, Norman and Roman Rule is still visible. I travelled part of the city wall, admired the exterior of the amazing York Minster, wandered the narrow Roman snickleways and ginnels and visited the street known as the Shambles. The town was alive with life – busy flower markets, street performers, shoppers and tourists. Just on Mickelgate Street I was charmed by bluebells in bloom in the garden of Holy Trinity Church, happened upon the filming of a PBS two part special called Dark Angel starring Joanne Froggatt, the character Anna in Downton Abbey ; and stood on the Ouse river bridge watching rowing teams in competition. If I ever have the opportunity to visit York again, I would like to stay inside the city wall and to have a friend along for company.
WEST YORKSHIRE ROOTS
For the next phase of my adventure I took the train from York to the charming historic textile village of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, which may have been the origins of my Rose ancestors who settled in Halifax, North Carolina in the 1750’s. This beautiful area is the where the PBS series, Last Tango in Halifax, is filmed.
I was a bit challenged to climb from town up the hill to my terrific accommodations in a converted chapel. The climb was worth the wonderful views over the valley. The village was charming with a beautiful canal, spring gardens, fresh produce and friendly people who loved “my” accent!
I was delighted to find Tim Barber of Real Yorkshire Tours, who gave me an amazing day exploring the beautiful countryside and village churches where the Rose/Wrose records have been recorded since the 1500’s. Tim was terrific company, a knowledgeable guide and even took 100 photos to record my experience.
The congregation at Ilkley has preserved ancient Roman altars and these three beautiful carved Celtic crosses. I was given a booklet about Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday celebration. I spent a sacred moment with the 1000-year-old Yew tree in the Otley church yard.
These historic village churches were built on the sites of ancient wells, which were early places of sacred ceremony, often dedicated to godesses. Eventually the present day churches were constructed and are still in use today.
Tim included side trips to the Bronte sister’s village of Haworth where we happened upon Rose and Company. He taught me the difference between the Dales and the Moors, and thought that I should see the beautiful ruins of Kirkstall Abbey.
CIRCLE BACK TO KILDARE
At the end of April, my Avalon Journey began in Dublin with a day trip to the Kildare to visit the sacred well and monastery dedicated to St. Brigid. Almost five weeks later I flew from Leeds back to Dublin, where I my hosts, Iris and Cyril collected me to enjoy a fews days of hospitality in their Kildare home.
Iris was my guide to the amazing Glendalough historic site located in Wicklow Mountains National Park. “This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century.” The site includes an early round tower and the ruins of several churches with their ancient grave yards. Walking trails lead to a lovely lake, where we performed a forgiveness ceremony. I was particularly drawn to the power of a fairy circle of mossy trees.
We ended our time together with a morning visit to St. Brigid’s church which stands on the site of her original monastary. We felt like St. Brigid herself may have been very near.
My amazing hosts delivered me back to Dublin to catch my long flight home.
I was afraid and did it anyway. Things worked out better than I could have imagined. I’m so very grateful. Next stop Lynchburg, Virginia.