“Ear all, see all, say nowt. Eat all, sup all, pay nowt. And if ever thou does owt fer nowt – allus do it fer thissen.” Unknown
Part of my UK summer trip was designated to visiting universities with the teenager. This took us down to Bristol (read my previous Bristol post Gert Lush) a city that we already know and love, over to Guildford in Surrey also very familiar as a previously frequent shopping haunt of mine and up north to Yorkshire aka ‘God’s Own County‘ to unknown territory in York. I was excited to visit somewhere new and determined to get the full York experience I decided to stay overnight so that the teenager and myself could explore the city thoroughly using public transport to see how easy it was to get about should she decide to choose that location.
York is transport hub with excellent rail links less than two hours from London, so it was all abroad the Virgin high-speed train from Kings Cross. First impressions were good, I was pleased to see that this historic walled city has retained its medieval charm whilst embracing modern-day diversity with high street retail and dining favourites. I had booked us into the new Hotel Indigo (part of the multi national IHG chain, read my review here soon) a fabulous boutique hotel that proved to be an ideal spot to explore the ancient streets on foot, was located within walking distance of the railway station with easy access to bus routes that run all over the city and surrounding areas, including the university itself.
As well as the mass of quaint narrow cobbled streets, York has two rivers flowing through it, the River Ouse and Foss that merge so there are lots of bridges, boats and scenic walks. Steeped in history, the city is divided into sections under the shadow of the famous York Minister, the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Those athletic types can climb the 275 steps to the top to access the marvellous vista this beautiful building offers across the city (guess what I didn’t, shocker). There’s an abundance of quaint tea rooms, oodles of heritage and bloodcurdling tales on the various ghost tours (teenager refused to go on one, scaredy cat) that explore the city each night divulging folklore and mysteries whilst walking through the ancient streets. You can even take a stroll along the preserved defensive walls that date back to the Middle Ages and still encircle the city, a much favoured tourist activity.
As usual I had a little ‘to-do’ list and right at the top was the famous Betty’s Tearoom which is notoriously popular and quite often involves guests queuing to get a table. Luckily, we secured one fairly quickly and enjoyed a lovely traditional Yorkshire cream tea that people have flocked to this part of the world to sample for nearly a hundred years. This quintessentially English tradition has been blended with the Swiss perfectionism of Betty’s origins enhanced further with some good old Yorkshire charm. The staff were dressed in old-fashioned black and white uniforms (think Upstairs, Downstairs) that adds to the traditional and elegant ambiance. The ground floor is an old-fashioned shop selling sweet treats, biscuits and baked delights plus a wide selection of different teas, macaroons too as sampled by the teenager, were apparently delicious!
Undoubtedly the most famous street in York is Shambles, which dates back to the 14th century, Rickety old overhanging medieval houses (former butchers shops, some even still have butcher’s hooks outside) line the cobbled street that is now home to independent cafes, boutiques and gift shops. York is easily accessible on foot with everything in a concentrated area, Shambles is surrounded by other picturesque shopping streets of Stonegate, Fossgate, Walmgate, Goodramgate, Coppergate, Petergate, Gillygate and Micklegate ….. you get it there’s a gate theme!
With the University of York only a ten minute bus journey away from the city centre in Heslington, students can easily access everything this vibrant city has to offer, including of course the most essential student requirement, nightlife! Our two-hour in-depth tour with a student ambassador certainly gave us a great insight into everything this excellent faculty has to offer, the newer and separate law complex was off the scale impressive.
York Designer shopping outlet is located on the city’s outskirts, only a ten minute bus ride so I felt it was necessary, for research purposes only of course, that the teenager got the full experience of what the city has to offer! Did the vast amount of retail opportunities make York more attractive, well it did to me (call me shallow) but in all seriousness the highly ranked university is unquestionably a favoured potential institute, should she get the required grades, for her future studies. Absolutely no pressure!
For more information on York visit www.visityork.org/
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.