As a history buff and fan of the city break, a visit to York has been on my to-do list for quite some time (okay, since I moved here thirteen years ago). So in March, I finally got my act together, booked a bed and a spot of breakfast for a few days and hopped on a train for the two hour journey north.
I had three days to spend and a list of things I wanted to do. The weather managed to mix it up too – bursts of sunshine book-ended drizzle, rain and even a flurry of snow. But it was blue skies that beckoned as I got off the train, bouncing off bobbing yellow daffodils and brushing the distant Minster tower with soft light. So I checked into my hotel (Marmadukes Town House Hotel), dumped my stuff and headed out to explore.
I spent the last few hours of daylight wandering through the walled city’s cobbled streets and when the light finally faded, I found a cosy spot at the Lamb and Lion Inn (right under the old City Gate, Bootham Bar) to prepare my plan of attack over a quiet pint of something local.
It was a full three days – a wonderful mix of history, curiosities, architecture and breathtaking views – and I have so much to share with you. So I’ve split my York warblings into three Armchair Tours to cover the things I loved about each day.
Here’s Part One…enjoy!
Awake early on Tuesday, I headed off to York Minster hoping to get there before the crowds. It’s a real centrepiece of York – an 800-year-old gothic cathedral which stands over the ancient Roman barracks – and it was lovely to stroll around the peace and cool of the old nave, quire and chapter house. I conquered the 275 step Tower climb to enjoy the panoramic views and also headed underground to visit the archaeology exhibit in the Crypt.
I emerged from the cathedral in perfect time to meet up with Alan from White Rose Walking Tours. This group of volunteers share their love of York and its history by conducting free guided walks around York at 11am every day of the year. For the next three hours, our group was regaled with story after story about the city’s place in history and its famous people – Richard III, Charles I, Guy Fawkes, Saint Margaret Clitheroe and Dick Turpin to name a few.
We wandered around the barracks and abbey ruins in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens, walked along the City Wall, meandered down The Shambles and wound our way over to Clifford’s Tower before finishing outside the York Castle Museum. Everywhere had a story and it was the perfect way to get my historic bearings.
Walking tours are hungry work, especially when it drizzles, blusters and snows throughout so the next order of business was a visit to the famous Betty’s Tearooms.
I had a relaxed and scrumptious afternoon tea with sandwiches, a fruit scone with jam and cream and three sensational mini-cakes – a lemon macaroon, a fresh fruit tart and a chocolate gateaux. The waitress was so friendly…and helpful too. We were chatting about what I was planning to do during my stay when I mentioned Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate (the smallest street in York). Before I knew it, we’d marked it on my map and off I went to find it.
After a little more wandering around, I returned to the hotel (there may have been a nanna nap involved) before heading out again, this time to No.8 Bistro on Gillygate for a delicious meal and a glass of wine. Needless to say that I walked back to the hotel and full of food, wine and fresh air, fell into a blissfully deep and restful sleep.
Wednesday dawned cold and wet…
My four York posts:
York: The tower, tour and tearooms