East Coast trains offer cheap off-peak tickets, provided you book about three months ahead when tickets are released. And the hi-speed service only takes two hours from King’s Cross to York, making it a perfectly accessible day trip from London.
|Sunset over the river as we were leaving York|
And there’s a lot to do in York once you get there. I did plenty of research to ensure we could make the most of our time, and here’s what ended up on the itinerary:
Sing “The Grand Old Duke of York” at Clifford’s Tower
Smell a Viking
Thirty years ago, archaeologists in York excavated the thousand-year old Viking city of Jorvik. Now the site has been developed into a visitor experience that even extends the sensory experience to smells – from the cooking to the latrine. If you’ve been to a Viking centre in Scandinavia then this probably won’t compete, but if it’s your first Viking encounter then it’s a bit of fun – especially with kids.
Have an unusual pub meal
Ever tried rabbit? Or pigeon? The best pub in York is called Black Swan, and it serves both. My pie was roughly the size of my head. I suggest one meal between two.
|Paul’s rabbit stew|
|The Black Swan pub|
Echo in the chapter house at York Minster
|The Chapter House roof|
|View from the top of York Minster|
The old town of York still feels like it’s haunted by the ghost of Guy Fawkes, probably because some of the buildings in the Shambles date as far back as the fourteenth century. The creaky Tudor buildings make the leaning tower of Pisa look positively ordinary – and it wouldn’t be hard to believe that this street is where we get the word ‘shambles’ from (though it isn’t).
Relax in a Ruined Abbey
St Mary’s Abbey oozes history. I lay on the grass for over half an hour, staring up at the ruined arch windows and imagining the 800 years of history. The surrounding gardens are lovely too, and we were delighted to see scurrying squirrels everywhere.