Tag: walking tour

How ghost stories reveal the dark reality of life for Yorkshire’s ancient monks

A Halloween trip to the North Yorkshire Moors this autumn.

I took a trip back through time to Rievaulx Abbey [pictured above] to try a new ghost-story-inspired tour of English Heritage properties.

Revenants and Remains is a 90-minute walking tour of five monastic sites across the North of England, ranging from Cumbria to North Yorkshire.

The idea is to peer into the supernatural shadows, using ghost stories to shine light into the darker corners of the medieval sites.

Here’s a sample of the story:

The resident monks drew on ancient beliefs and local folk legends to compile a series of ghost stories, fused with medieval mysticism and the hellfire-brimstone of the Holy scriptures. The tours interpret these stories to explain the symbolism of the medieval belief system, a world dominated by terrifying tales of the afterlife and spooky stories of the undead.

Tour leader, Dr. Michael Carter, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said:

“The stories reveal the lives of medieval monks were epitomised by a constant state of moral vigilance for the sin-stained souls of their patrons, easing their path to Paradise.”

Read the full story via i Travel, The ghost stories and medieval ruins that shaped the North York Moors

 

 

 

How to discover hidden Manchester on an alternative city tour

I’m always on the look out for an alternative city walking tour.

It’s a great way to see a city in a new light and gives me with inspiration to help design my own themed tours of my home city of Chester.

I was introduced recently to Hayley Flynn, whose Skyliner alternative walking tours of Manchester are inspired by the city’s hidden heritage.

My interview with Hayley is in today’s Guardian Saturday magazine as part of the Locals Guide To … series.

It coincides with the 30-year anniversary this year of the renaissance of city’s Northern Quarter, stretching between Piccadilly and Victoria trains stations.

The council first commissioned the artist-in-residence, Liam Curtin, in 1992 to create art to trigger organic growth in the area.

The tour includes the Tib Street public-art trail with the poem Flags by Lemn Sissay set into the pavement, and the wall murals telling stories of the traders from the old Smithfield Market.

Hayley says:

“I also keep uncovering snapshots of leftover history around here, such as the original mosaic-tile sign of the old ice-cream parlour on Port Street.”

I also asked Hayley about her favourite nightlife spots and she recommends the bar YES on Charles Street for its alternative karaoke night in the downstairs karaoke dungeon.

“My go-to karaoke tune? Jesus, He Knows Me by Genesis.”

Read the full feature here: A Local’s Guide to Manchester.

More about Sykliner.

A walking tour of historic Edgar’s Field Park in Handbridge, Chester

This site is one of Chester’s hidden gems.

Indeed, I used to regularly take my children to this local park, but it was ages before I realised there was a 2,000-year-old historical artefact just behind the swings.

The park is Edgar’s Field in Handbridge and the carving is the Roman goddess Minerva [pictured above].

The shrine is said to have been carved into the sandstone in the second century AD and is believed to the only site in Europe still in its original location, according to experts at Historic England.

Today we’ve come for an audience with Minerva.

Minerva was the patron of arts and craftsmen and, later in Roman history, she became the goddess of war with temples in Rome devoted to her.

She was often portrayed wearing a chiton, which is an ancient Greek garment, and a helmet. Many statues of her show her holding a spear and a shield, to represent her warlike qualities.

But she can often be found offering an olive branch to the defeated as Minerva was a compassionate victor, who had pity on those her armies vanquished.

This is now a quiet park on the banks of the River Dee but it was once a massive quarry, excavating the huge blocks of sandstone to build Chester’s Roman walls.

And this weathered rock shrine was once a site of ancient Roman worship.

The quarrymen, who carved the effigy, would have made offerings and prayed for safety during their gruelling, risky labour.

Sadly, Minerva looks a bit the worse for wear these days — the weather and vandalism have seen to that. But you can still pick out her figure holding a spear and wearing a helmet, an owl over her shoulder on the right.

The awning over the shrine is a 19th-century addition, placed there in the hopes of warding off further damage.

Edgar’s Field dates from the Saxon period and gets its name from King Edgar, the great-grandson of Alfred the Great, who held a council in or near the field in 973AD.

From here the king visited nearby St Johns Church, which was built in 689 AD. Writings from this time describe the scene of Edgar being rowed up the Dee by eight Saxon, Welsh and Viking princes as an act of submission — a romantic image forever associated with Chester.

Edgar’s Field was laid out as a public park by the first Duke of Westminster, Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, who presented it to the City of Chester in 1892 as an act of philanthropy.

My children are grown up now — but I still come to visit Minerva.

I love the way that Chester may change yet Minerva stands, serene and stoic, keeping watch over the good people of Handbridge from her freeze-frame stone tomb.

How to celebrate St Patrick’s Day by climbing Ireland’s holiest mountain

Today marks St Patrick’s Day.

Normally I’d be raising a glass of the black stuff to celebrate. But, like everything else, it looks be a bit different this year with Visit Ireland live streaming the craic via YouTube.

But, pre Covid, I had celebrated the big day in the west of Ireland, joining walking guide Ged Dowling to climb Croagh Patrick, the holy Irish mountain towering over County Mayo.

I had gone to discover why some 120,000 people hike the treacherous trail to the summit each year, and to learn more about the man behind the folklore-shrouded myth of St Patrick with which is it so closely associated.

Patrick spent 40 days and 40 nights atop the summit of Croagh Patrick in 441AD, fasting, praying and communing with God in a lonely vigil, which established this formerly pagan peak as the new summit of Irish spirituality.

Ever since, the annual Croagh Patrick pilgrimage for St Patrick’s Day has felt like walking in his holy footsteps.

“Croagh Patrick was revered as a place of ancient spirituality long before Patrick was in town,” says Ged. “To me, it feels reassuring — like visiting an old friend.”

Read the feature in full via Independent Travel

See also Terra Firma Ireland