Sometime in the autumn, Chris and I decided that it might be nice to take the train to York. From London it’s a quick 2 hour journey, done before you can finish your Bulmer’s.
We had a few days there, so we decided to take it easy. We stayed at The Churchill Hotel, a beautiful historic Georgian mansion that we were honestly lucky to get a deal on. When else would we stay in a mansion? It is a very short walk from the center of town, which was also extremely appealing.
York is honestly one of those magical places where you almost feel as though you’ve stepped off of the train and into another time. Every street corner surprises you, every wobbly cobblestone street and tilted staircase take you back to a time that feels almost recognizable. I love these gems in the world. You don’t even have to close your eyes to imagine it. It’s drenched in history. Both the Romans and Vikings occupied it at some point or another, and there are vestiges of both cultures throughout the town.
York’s City Wall is a must walk. I love city walls, and we always make a point of heading out on top and seeing the city from another viewpoint. There is something so neat about encircling a city, knowing that once upon a time what was inside the walls was all there was. The York city walls run almost 3 miles long! Although there is nothing left of the original Roman wall, you get a sense of what the Roman town could have been all those years ago.
When in York you have to go the Shambles, so we walked around until we came across it. It is probably one of the most beautiful and picturesque streets I have ever been on. In 2010 it even won the award for most picturesque street in Britain! It is York’s oldest street, most of the buildings here date back to the fifteenth century, their roofs nearly touching in the middle of the street. It was honestly breathtaking, you truly step back in time when you enter one of the most famous streets in Britain.
York Minster is one of those human achievements of epic proportions. It has a long and tumultuous history, and was the seat of the Archbishop of York, which at the time was the second highest office in the Church of England. We spent hours in there. Honestly. We met a really nice woman who volunteers there, and she had so much information to share. I think we spent a half hour in the cloister alone! It is honestly an amazing cathedral, the largest of it’s kind in Northern Europe. It will blow you away.
The best cream tea to be found is at Betty’s!! Go for an authentic tea time, complete with sloping floors of a 16th century home. It’s pretty amazing, I could honestly have cream tea for every meal, not healthy mind you, but delicious. It’s a quintessential english experience, you have to do it at least once in England, and if you have to do it anywhere, do it in York!
Now to what you’re all waiting for… the pubs. English pubs are some of my favorite places in the entire world. They are filled with more history than any building I could find at home. A good number of them are actually older than Canada. Way older. The pubs in York are some of the best examples of historic pubs. Look around, sip a pint, pretend you are back in the 1600s on some journey. These places make it easy. They are all probably super haunted too. We went into the Guy Fawkes Inn, which of course was the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, you know, the guy bonfire night in the UK is all about. Years ago, the top floor of the building burnt down. The scary bit is, it was a totally isolated fire. It only took out the top floor, none of the others and no other nearby buildings were harmed. And in that very pub, Chris’ jacket was lit on fire!! We like to say it was the ghost of Guy Fawkes, but it was probably just Chris getting a little too close to open flame. The Golden Fleece was also a really cool old pub. You can find a twisty old staircase by the bathroom. That building is first mentioned in 1503, so you know there are some ghosts lurking about!
We didn’t end up doing it, but York offers ghost walks if you are into that sort of stuff. We did one in Edinburgh once, but that is a spooky story for another time!
When you travel to England, please get out of London, at least for a couple of days. York would make an excellent trip! I loved it, and would go back in a heartbeat.
Here are some links in case you are interested in learning more about York, or to help plan your next adventure: