Another fresh autumn day, another beautiful city to explore. York has been on my UK bucket list all year so with 2019 fast coming to an end, I booked a day trip there on an “I have to go!” whim.
Like Chester, I haven’t been to York since I visited my friend at uni there in 2007. A blast from the past below!
The journey from Manchester to York is around 75 minutes on the train and £30 each for a return ticket. I’ll never complain again about the cost of public transport in Australia 😅. We had a lovely chat with the tea trolly lady on the train and I had to control the urge to shout “wé’ll take the lot!’ A Harry Potter reference for anyone not following.
On arrival, there was no plan on where to go or what to do which is so unlike me but these last few weeks have been hectic — I was just glad we made it! So, standing outside the station, we just began walking and soon found ourselves at York Museum Gardens. Set in the stunning surroundings of the Medieval ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, it’s a calm oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The gardens are free to explore and The Yorkshire Museum itself looks like an interesting place to visit.
Next, we came across an enormous Church of England cathedral — York Minster. It features impressive 14th and 15th-century stonework and stained glass so you can’t help but stand there with your neck craned upwards. We didn’t go in but free guided tours are held there every day. You can even climb the Central Tower which is the highest point in York and it offers panoramic views of the city. Wish we had done this in hindsight but alas, we were on a time limit.
At this point, lunch was on the agenda and I saw the most amazing Yorkshire pudding wraps at The York Roast Co but Joe wanted a proper sit-down lunch instead. I’ve since discovered that these are world-famous Yorkshire pudding wraps so I probably won’t ever forgive him. More importantly, I don’t think he’ll ever forgive himself. Instead, we randomly ended up at WME Cafe which was a lovely people-watching spot in St Sampson’s Square but we ended up getting full English breakfasts. Did I mention that it’s an Asian and Italian infused cafe? The breakfast was actually great but I’ll never forget those wraps.
With full stomachs, the Shambles was next on the list. This is one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe. In fact, it’s said to be the inspiration behind Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and I can see why. The narrow yet quirky lane is filled with interesting boutiques — you can smell the fudge from Roly’s Fudge Pantry and there are even a few Harry Potter stores to explore filled with plenty of fun merchandise.
Behind this magical lane is Shambles Market which is open seven days a week with over 85 stalls. We had a wander and I found a whole stall with £1 war fiction novels — a genre that I quite enjoy. I showed great restraint and walked away with just the one for the plane in December. Not far from here is the York City Walls which surround the city centre. I am loving all of these city walls walks in the UK. These ones have protected the city for almost 2000 years and stretch out for two miles. During the walk, we stopped at a lovely lookout point over York Minster.
It was well and truly pouring it down at this point but we had just enough time to do some window shopping at Stonegate — a lovely cobbled shopping street with a mix of high street and independent stores. It had a lovely Christmas shopping vibe so you could really make a day out of wandering in and out of the different shops and eating places. Of course, I couldn’t leave without a festive Irish latte at Costa Coffee.
A short but sweet trip — glad we went!