Sunday, October 07, 2007

Castle Howard

Castle Howard is a large palace with sprawling gardens, wooded area and huge lakes surrounding it. It's about 15 miles from York, so me and Anthony, a guy from work decided to cycle it there.

Well, for a start we didn't have a cycle-map of areas outside York, so were not sure how we will avoid the motorways. We managed a good start taking the small countries roads, but then hit the A64. As it busy with traffic, so turned back and started on a bridleway. The bridleway would have taken directly onto another country road, but we lost of way (the bridleway passes along the periphery of farms and through private properties, but it's a way of allowing people to enjoy the countryside, without causing disturbance for the land-owners) and reached a gold course. Turning back would have been futile, so crossed the barbed wires into the golf course and as discreetly as possible tried to make our way out the other sides. Balls were whizzing past us, trying to knock us intruders down, but we held our own.

Finally reached the driving range. We got more stares, but we pretended like we were the grass-cutters inspecting the course on our cycles. Finally, out of the course hurriedly.

At Strensall, Anthony bought a proper map which was very useful. Then onto Foxton, Thorton-Le-Clay and Foston. Close to Castle Howard, the journey was uphill. My cycle isn't amenable to gear changing, so I can't navigate gradients. So, it was off and on the cycle for some distance. But the view was spectacular and the weather was fine. Passed through a series of majestic gates into Castle Howard. Had a great steak sandwich (my first steak). The admission price was expensive, but then Anthony thought it would be worth it and it was.

The house is well-maintained and well-restored. It has a huge hall with frescos and statues. We were taken through various rooms with paintings, and artefacts, books, and furniture. Quite fascinating. The Howards still stay in the other block, so it must be a royal and lavish life for them.

Got a lot of interesting tidbits from Anthony about Greek and Chinese mythology. The guy is a knowledge store of information. Would be interesting to learn more and atleast get introduced to more history (I am extremely poor there).

The way back was smooth (mostly downhill). We missed a turn, but it wasn't a lot of time lost and were back in 1.5 hours (the way to, took 3 hours).

All in all, a great day of cycling.
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