York – Day 3 / Scotland – Day 9

Today we woke up, went down for breakfast, and then headed out for our last day in York. We took the bus to our first site: the York Cold War Bunker. It was a lot more interesting than I expected though, unfortunately, Calvin found parts of it scary. When in use, this bunker was run by volunteers and it’s purpose was to provide info on the location and fallout of nuclear bombs. The purpose of this was to be able to save up to 1/3 of population if the UK was hit with a nuclear bomb.

Much of the story surrounding the bunker was rather grim/surreal. It had 120 volunteers and once they were alerted, the entrance was sealed after exactly 60 of the volunteers made it in. It would stay sealed for 30 days after which point the people inside were considered expendable. There was a guard to be stationed outside to keep anyone else from getting in. He too would be collateral damage. In addition, they had a secret list of the engineers in the area that could fix the equipment and they would be forcibly drafted if the situation arose. These engineers never learned they were on these lists until the program was decommissioned in the 90s. They were not happy to learn that they might have been forced to leave their families in the middle of a crisis.

Also, there was a part on the top of the roof that had to be changed every 6-8 hrs. This would require sending someone outside to quickly change it (they practiced changing blindfolded in case it was at night). They did not provide any protective radiation suits for this. Once changed, they’d go through the decontamination room and go through 3 washes (sinks with hoses) which they estimated would take care of about 90 percent of the radiation and was unlikely to kill you within 30 days or pass much radiation to those around you.

Anyway, it was all very fascinating. The tour guide asked us if we had any similar bunkers in the US. Neither Jaeger nor I had heard of any quite like this but we assume in the US something similar existed but was solely operated by the military instead of volunteers.

After the bunker we walked to a windmill. The windmill was built in the late 1700 and was hooked up to a flour mill. At its busiest, the mill could produce 3-4 tons of flour a day. It sounded rather astonishing especially since it’s a relatively small area. The mill fell into disuse in the early 1900s until a preservation society formed recently to get it back up and running. They had to replace substantial parts of the windmill but it once again can grind flour using the windmill. They have some for sale in the gift shop. I was tempted to get some but I didn’t think I could justify the extra bag weight.

After the windmill we headed back into town to get lunch. We ended up finding a pasties shop that had quite filling pasties (Jaeger continued to deny that chocolate could replace lunch). We had a little extra time before our train was suppose to depart. It was raining outside so we considered going back to York Minster only to see, based on the line, that everyone else had the same idea. Instead, we decided to head off to another used bookstore our guide book had mentioned. It’s amazing how many used bookstores there are in York. On our way, we ran into another one and stopped for a quick look. Unfortunately none of them had the book I was looking for but we ended up with an autobiography by Roald Dahl that looks pretty interesting.

We packed up our luggage from the hotel and arrived at our train platform 5 min before it was scheduled to leave. Our train ride was fairly uneventful except for the several minutes involving a screaming child that I’m happy to report was not Calvin 🙂

Once again in Edinburgh we dropped off our bags at the left luggage stand and went out to find supper. We had a good supper, picked up our bags, and took a taxi to our hotel which is by the airport. The hotel is not the same quality as the previous ones we have stayed at. Jaeger had reserved a double bed with a sofa bed for Calvin. When we got to our room we were confronted with two twin beds and a sofabed. It looked very 1950s. Jaeger was not amused. We were able to get our room switched but then had to wait for them to make up the sofabed for Calvin. Oh well, it’s only for one night and appears to have all the basics.

Tomorrow we start our journey back home. It’s been a good vacation but it’s also always nice to go home.

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