Day trip from York: Beningbrough Hall by bike

Beningbrough Hall makes a perfect day trip from York by bike. Here’s how to combine gentle exercise with a Georgian mansion, without ending up in a spin.

day trip from York - Beningbrough Hall by bike

… and we’re there *collapse* 😉

Cycle Route 65 from York to Beningbrough Hall by bike

The route from York to Beningbrough Hall forms part of National Cycle Route 65, which means loads of signposts and minimal chances of getting lost. Hurrah!

You’ll pedal along the banks of the River Ouse from central York (passing under the city walls at Lendal Bridge) on dedicated cycle paths, before joining (mostly) quiet country lanes.

The route is mostly flat, so you don’t need to be King or Queen of the Mountains, or even of the Mild Inclines! The most strenuous it gets is a couple of bridges over the East Coast Mainline railway line.

Arriving at Beningbrough Hall by bike

Happily, the National Trust, who run Beningbrough Hall, are well geared up for cyclists.

free brew on a day trip from York to Beningbrough hall by bike

free brew!

There’s a bike rack right next to the entrance, and cyclists can even enter the grounds for free for half an hour – to use the bathrooms, take a quick wander round, and grab all-important refreshments.

Even better, they’ll even throw in a free tea or coffee! Admittedly, it’s more of a “buy a snack, get a free brew” kinda deal, but a flapjack/brownie is practically the law anyway after you’ve spent all that energy, right?

If you want to explore for longer and go in the house itself, you’ll need to buy a ticket. They cost up to £12, depending on the season (more on that a bit later).

What to expect at Beningbrough Hall

Like many of the UK’s grand old houses, you can expect history, grandeur and gardens.

Outside there’s a formal garden with a lawn manicured to an inch of its life, plus the mandatory veggie patch (patch being an under-exaggeration!). Happily, they’re not so precious about the lawn that they won’t let you take a picnic on it.

There’s also parkland with some rather photogenic trees.

photogenic tree at Beningbrough Hall - a day trip from York

photogenic trees abound in Beningbrough Hall’s parkland

In the Hall itself there are super-helpful volunteers, who can give you the lowdown on its previous inhabitants. There’s even 300 china cups to represent the Hall’s 2016 300th anniversary. How can you not love that?

300 cups at Beningbrough Hall - a day trip from York

300 years, 300 cups

There’s also an affiliation with London’s National Portrait Gallery going on. Great if you’re into portraits, even more so if you don’t mind being a bit silly with the dress-up-as-if-you’re-sitting-for-a-portrait option 😉

Beningbrough Hall was home to Royal Canadian Airforce Servicemen during the Second World War. It’s one of many York attractions with an interesting military history. The Canadians used the nearby airfield as a base for raids over Germany. Many didn’t return, and their stories are told in some of the upstairs room. For me, this was the most captivating (and poignant) part of the house.

Practicalities of a day trip from York to Beningbrough Hall

Bike practicalities

If you’re making this day trip from York by bike, wear a helmet and take a lock. Go by car or bus instead if the river is flooded!

cycle helmets - Beningbrough Hall by bike - day trip from York

playin’ it safe with our cycle helmets

Bike Hire is available in York, including at Cycle Heaven at York’s Railway Station. Hire costs are £15 for five hours, or £20 for a full day.

National Cycle Route 65 is well signed. You can also download full details of the route here.

[box type=”info”]To help you get the most out of your trip to York, pick up the Insight Guide to the city in advance. Help the site by buying the guide through this link, at no extra cost to you.[/box]

Beningbrough Hall costs and opening times

Georgian mansion Beningbrough Hall - day trip from York

Georgian mansion? Don’t mind if I do!

Entrance costs to Beningbrough Hall depend on the season. During the Winter, only the gardens are open, and tickets are cheaper. For full details, see their website.

In the Summer, Beningbrough Hall is open Tuesday-Sunday and the Adult price is £10.80 or £12.00 with gift aid (a scheme that enables tax-effective charitable giving by UK tax payers).

In the Winter, the gardens are open and on weekends only. The Adult price is £6.30 or £7.00 with gift aid.

Children pay half price and family tickets are available.

Prices and information correct 7th June 2016.

Getting to Beningbrough Hall by bus

If you don’t fancy a bike ride, there are a couple of other options.

One is to drive, the other is to take the service bus from York to the nearby village of Newton-on-Ouse (a pretty village with two good pubs) and walk from there. The timetable can be found here.

However, no bike = no free brew 🙁

Tell us your tales of Beningbrough Hall. Did you go by bike? Where else would you recommend as a day out from York?

11 tips for travel in Mexico

Bags of culture. Decent public transport. Good value. Chatty residents. All these make Mexico one of my favourite destinations. Here are 11 tips for travel in Mexico beyond the all-inclusive resorts.

Getting around – 11 tips for travel in Mexico

1. Combis

11 tips for travel in Mexico: combi vans in Taxco

VW combi vans ply their trade in Taxco

Collectivos / combi vans are a steal for local transport (think camper van of the VW or Toyota Hiace variety). They ply set routes, and will stop at every lamppost along that route if that’s where their passengers are.

They’ll pomp their horn when approaching you if they think you’re in need of a lift. Flag one with your arm parallel to the road and with a downward motion. A bit like you’re a one-winged flapping bird. It works.

11 tips for travel in Mexico: VW beetle taxis

Beetle taxis. These white ones are in Taxco. Mexico City’s are green.

2. VWs

There are old VWs everywhere, particularly in the south and the capital. Beetles are a fave and are abound in Taxco and Mexico City. Don’t hail one as your taxi in the latter though – calling a cab there or taking the tube (subway) is a better bet on the safety front. Hailing’s the norm everywhere else. In the south negotiate the price first. Further north (in places such as Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes), meters are used.

3. Time

Time is a bit of an alien concept. A 10am bus can depart at 10.20am or 9.50am (probably the former).

Food and drink – 11 tips for travel in Mexico

4. Tortillas

All meals are accompanied by tortillas, including breakfast. Scrambled egg with tortilla, anyone? They’ll be your new favourite carb.

5. Unusual food options

If you fancy a bit of off-piste food, then ant larvae and chillied grasshoppers are amongst the local specialties. Mole poblano (mole means sauce, poblano means it’s a specialty of the city of Pueblo), is a less scary local food prospect. Apparently there are 17 ingredients it its sauce, including the famed Mexican chocolate. Yum.

6. Juice!

You can always find a freshly squeezed fruit juice. The markets are a good bet. Don’t be surprised if it’s presented to you in a plastic bag with a straw if you ask for it “to go”.

Wildlife – 11 tips for travel in Mexico

7. Lizards

Hotel and hostel rooms all have a small resident lizard. They’re quite cute.

11 tips for travel in Mexico: iguana

Fortunately the lizards you’ll find in your hotel room will be smaller than this iguana

8. Cockerels

Cockerels. Godamn those cockerels (roosters) with no concept of when dawn is. Owning one is a macho thing, apparently. Take earplugs, particularly in more rural towns and villages.

Local people – 11 tips for travel in Mexico

9. Height

On the Yucátan peninsula, you may well be a giant by local Mayan standards. At five foot ten I am practically Godzilla. Trying to blend in is futile (though you can help by not dressing as though you’re on the beach. Unless you’re on the beach).

10. Pack a phrase book

People are chatty, and often just want to practice their English. Or have a natter to you in Spanish (a few words go a long way). Mexico’s a country where you soon learn to get over yourself when it comes to talking to random strangers.

11. Family affair

Mexicans enjoy their family time and value family life. Go where the locals go on their Sunday family day out – there are a myriad of cultural outings and day-trip opportunities from every town – and get chatting!

Check out this suggested itinerary for how to spend a month in Mexico.

In my opinion Mexico gets an undeserved bad press. Like most countries there are places (and parts of cities) to avoid, but the majority of Mexico – particularly areas frequented by tourists – is safe to explore. You can check out your government’s foreign office website (this is the UK’s) for the latest travel advice.

What do you think of these 11 tips? What would you add?