York (A Summertime Throwback)
During these cold, grey and wintery days it’s always nice to reminisce on the days of Summer, when the days were brighter, more colourful and considerably warmer! During August my family and I set off on one of our ‘traditional’ train journeys, but rather than exploring the sun-drenched, southern European countries as we had done earlier in the year (InterRail 2014) , we set off to explore some new parts of the UK, leaving the southern Shires behind us and travelling up north. Our first stop was the former industrial city of Birmingham, which is now a melting pot of different cultures and a retail-therapist’s paradise. After a weekend there, we continued our trip, eating up the miles and heading further north until we crossed into ‘God’s Own Country’ (Yorkshire), the fictional setting for Downton Abbey.
Arriving in York, we passed under the city walls and walked through the town, along such peculiarly named streets as Micklegate and Skeldergate until at last, we arrived at our ‘home’ for the night, the Lady Anne Middleton’s Hotel. We had a short wait until our rooms were ready but were pleasantly surprised when we were shown our accommodation and found there we were in fact to be housed in a very sweet-looking cottage, which was rather spacious and had plenty of character. We dropped off our bags, freshened up and then headed off to see what the city had to offer us!
Leaving the hotel, we made our way along Skeldergate, before crossing the Bridge over the river Ouse.
In front of us stood York Crown Court and the Castle Museum. A walk through the park and then across the road brought us to Clifford’s Tower perched atop a sizeable mound. The rather isolated looking tower, is almost all that is left of York Castle which, interestingly, was built by William the Conqueror. Soon after being built, the castles were burnt by a Danish fleet which had full support from the people of the city. Nowadays, the tower offers views out across the town and is a hot spot for tourists! At least for those who can face climbing the steps!
We skirted the Tower and turned into Castlegate and headed toward the centre of the town. Whilst we were looking for somewhere to stop for lunch, we found the entrance to the old Merchant Adventurer’s Hall tucked down Fossgate and had a quick peek at the pretty, yellow timbered building contained therein.
From there we made our way back up the road towards the town centre, crossing over the road to explore The Shambles. This street or lane used to be part of York’s old tanner’s or butcher’s quarter. It is a rather narrow thoroughfare with overhanging timber-framed buildings. The buildings have been turned into a whole host of shops – ranging from souvenir shops to sweet shops and even a tea room or two!
Exiting this famous shopping street we emerged onto Kings Square where we grabbed a bite to eat from the Cornish Pasty Bakery, sat down under the trees and watched a street performer entertaining the crowds.
After having had our lunch we continued on, meandering around the streets and mooching around a couple of the shops located in the main shopping area (around Market Street). From there, we wound our way through the narrow streets, via Grape Lane, Low and High Petergate to the Minster.
We walked inside but were rather surprised at the entrance fee, required to go around inside, so opted instead to have a quick look between the central pillars towards the altar and then made our exit.Although our exit was by choice many other tourists had their visit curtailed shortly afterwards when an alarm was heard from the inside of the cathedral itself and as we watched, an organised evacuation took place. What the cause was, we never did find out!
After a few more photo opportunities we walked along past Dean Court Hotel and into Museum Street, where we popped into the Tourist Information Office, and from there entered Museum Gardens.
We could see the river below us so after walking as far as the Yorkshire Museum and St Mary’s Abbey we turned and strolled across the park to the riverside. Up some steps onto Lendal Bridge, across the river and then a U-turn brought us to the opposite side of the river and a riverside walk.
York had certainly been good to us; offering great weather and plenty to see. But after a day of exploring, it was time to head back to the hotel for a refreshing cup of tea, a bit of recharging the batteries (and a thoroughly tasty evening meal) followed by a good night’s sleep we were ready to continue our journey and head for our next stop … Edinburgh!