The best way to know a city is to tread its paths and look into the eyes of the locals. This is such the case for Hull, dubbed as UK’s City of Culture. I had the chance to brush up on its culture and explore its hidden gems last October 2020, in the midst of the impending COVID19 pandemic. It served as a breather for someone like me who is working in the frontline most of the time, and has been that needed respite from it all.
Kingston Upon Hull, or commonly known as East Riding of Yorkshire, has been existing since 1299 stemming from its original name, Wyke on Hull, then later remained Kings-town upon Hull on that same year. It lies upon the River Hull at its confluence with the Humber Estuary, 25 miles (40 km) inland from the North Sea, 50 miles (80 km) east of Leeds, 34 miles (55 km) south-east of York and 54 miles (87 km) north-east of Sheffield. With a population of 259,778 (mid-2019 est.), Hull is the fourth-largest city in Yorkshire and the Humber. Kingston upon Hull stands on the north bank of the Humber Estuary at the mouth of its tributary, the River Hull. The valley of the River Hull has been inhabited since the early Neolithic period but there is little evidence of a substantial settlement in the area of the present city. The area was attractive to people because it gave access to a prosperous hinterland and navigable rivers but the site was poor, being remote, low-lying and with no fresh water. It was originally an outlying part of the hamlet of Myton, named Wyke. The name is thought to originate either from a Scandinavian word Vik meaning inlet or from the Saxon Wic meaning dwelling place or refuge. [sourced: Wikipedia]
So, together with a good friend, fellow Nurse and Cebuano mountaineer, John Michael [@dukeofkingsbench], I explored UK’s City of Culture in an adventure of a lifetime I wouldn’t dare to miss. A little back story why I wanted to visit the city. It started with plain curiosity and the desire to know how the north would look like. When I first came round here in Suffolk, I had the impression that we are on the North, but I was wrong. You see, I am located in Suffolk, in the East Anglia Region, a place devoid of mountains, hills and seas as it is still considered a prime spot for horse riding and breeding due to its flat surface. It is also a place where estates of long ago had a herd of sheep and other animals, as it is beneficial for royal families and their subjects. As a yearning for a change in landscape was too much too ignore, I had decided to embark in a trip to rejuvenate the senses. I had longed planned for this escape, just after I passed my OSCE exams and gained my most coveted UK RGN PIN [UK Licensed Nurse Registration PIN Number]. It may have been a case of delayed gratification as COVID 19 messed up with my plans and turned my life upside down. It is also a promise I made to JM that when have had passed our exams, we will explore the city and he will take me to his playgrounds.
First stop when I arrived was the Hull Paragon Interchange and I was amazed at how the Hull Paragon Interchange looked like [better known as the Train Station]. It is much like the one at King’s Cross in London, and it had the same feel of a place trapped between the past and the present. On its platforms, I could see a lot of banners that represent Hull as a City of Culture, from Music Fests to Museum offerings to food. Yeah, you got that right. Food is an integral part of the culture of the city. And, yes, it is bigger than what I had expected.
When I had settled on his flat at King’s Bench Road, we had then planned what our next stop would be. We then decided to book our train tickets to the City of York, as we had initially planned, so that we can make the most out of my visit. Will do another article solely dedicated to York as I have a lot of stories to tell. Meanwhile, we had visited the following places:
- York Minster [York Cathedral] — We had been fortunate to be able to gain entrance to the cathedral, as it is not OPEN most of the time.
- St. Wilfrid’s Catholic Church — haven’t ventured inside as there was mass ongoing when we arrived at around lunch time.
- The Yorkshire Museum — but since the museum is closed, we contented ourselves with doing photography in the gardens
- The Shambles — Potterheads, unite! This is where it all began.
- The York Chocolate Story — where I had my Madagascar Orange Hot Chocolate. Never did I had a cup so good!
- Baile Hill — This is where the Wall Walk began.
- City of York Wall Walk — walking on top of the walls of the city was such an experience. I would like to do it all over again when I have the chance. I happen to have the fear of heights, but, with an almost 360 degrees view of the city, my fear was overtaken with glee and happiness. So
- Clifford’s Tower — Clifford’s Tower is one of the best-loved landmarks in York. It is the largest remaining part of York Castle, once the centre of government for the north of England. The 11th-century timber tower on top of the earth mound was burned down in 1190, after York’s Jewish community, some 150 strong, was besieged here by a mob and committed mass suicide. The present 13th-century stone tower was probably used as a treasury and later as a prison.
- Tower Gardens — Original part of the “The Long Walk” extending downstream to the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss at the Blue Bridge.
- Afternoon Tea at the Deacon Hotel
As such was our eventful exploration at York, I had the opportunity to visit the Hull Old Town. As with any other places I had visited before, I am in awe of how preservation and conservation efforts are being carried out. It may be a grand effort, but it paid off well. The city of Hull has been bombarded back in WWII, and almost been wiped out. Buildings and other important places had to be rebuilt and along with it, new memories are created alongside the old ones.
Places that we had ventured in the city where:
- Queens Garden
- Queen Victoria Square — where a tall image of the Queen seems to watch every passersby.
- Princes Quay — just in passing, as it was nearby the gardens
- Hull Old Town
- Hull Minster — which was closed when we went there due to the pandemic.
- The Deep — a manmade aquarium build in mind with the conservation efforts for rare and exotic marine flora and fauna. It also features an interactive museum for both kids and adults alike. This is worth another blog post 🙂
- The Hull Marina — a place where the yachts are docked.
- The Spurn Lightship — though it is closed for the public, I was able to take awesome photos with it as the background.
- Humber Bridge by Hessle Foreshore
- Humber Bridge Country Park
Other places that I haven’t been able to venture yet that remains on my bucketlist:
- Ferens Art Gallery
- Hull Arctic Corsair
- Streetlife Museum
- Wilberforce House
- Hull and East Riding Museum
- Maritime Museum
- Hands on History Museum
Actually, 5 days in the city is never enough to get to know it better. The resilience of the city dwellers amid the ever changing tide of time made them stand up until today.
As the world braces for the pandemic, I remembered one of the lessons Kingston Upon Hull had taught me. That is, being resilient will never be enough to brave the waves of life. Constant determination and standing your ground is something that backs up resilience. And yes, life will be boring if it is structured. Learn how to go with the flow. 🙂
Photos on my adventures in Hull are found in my Instagram account:
Any questions, feel free to comment below and let’s talk! 🙂