The Romans got it right: Mr Batchelor didn’t. The Romans sensibly headed north to York along Ermine Street, one of their characteristically straight roads. Mr Batchelor, however, led his 67 legionaries of the Vth Cranleigh Cohort round the M25, the M1, the hairpin bends of the A170 and along roads which became ever narrower. He overshot York and led his forces along the B1257, a road perhaps wide enough for a border collie but not really designed for two fully armed Gastonia coaches. But for the wonders of Microsoft distractions, there might well have been a mutiny by this point.
It was now, though, that Mr B’s cunning plan was revealed. Looking up from their tablets, the group found itself in beautiful, remote Yorkshire countryside and right beside one of the most splendid of all medieval monasteries, Rievaulx Abbey. Having roamed amongst these splendid ruins, Mr Batchelor led on to Helmsley Castle, set high on an impressive motte. This was the serious part of the adventure as the pupils knew that, the following morning, they would later be attacked by venomous questions which formed part of their CE Assessment. They quickly sharpened their brains, explored and listened to details about towers and keeps, barbicans and baileys.
Reaching the excellent Youth Hostel in York, the troops were excitedly allocated their dormitories and then enjoyed a fine supper.
By 9.15 am the following morning, breakfast and the dreaded assessment were completed. A walk by the river led into the city and several informative talks and tours of the magnificent York Minister. In the afternoon, the 67 heroes made their way through the winding streets, past the many street entertainers, to ascend Clifford’s Tower, an early stone castle with panoramic city views. They also visited the Castle Museum which displayed a fascinating World War One Exhibition, a full scale Victorian street and the frightening cells of the old York prison.
In the evening, the troops returned to the city for a Ghost Tour which was delivered by a story-teller who delighted in eliciting gasps of giggling horror.
On the return journey, Mr Batchelor could not resist leading the group to yet another fine historic location. At Hardwick Old Hall, high on the Derbyshire hills, the substantial remains of this Tudor building were explored. The party took turns to admire the views, climbing to join the jackdaws and swallows, while others dozed peacefully below as Mr B. entertained himself by telling one of his own favourite medieval tales to anyone that would listen. Tired, but cheerful, the group finally headed for home, their heads spinning with keeps and castles, ghosts and gargoyles; happy memories which will remain embedded in their minds. Perhaps Mr Batchelor got it right after all!