Archives for February 2017

How to Spend One Day in York England

With a fascinating history that stretches over two millennia, York is one of England’s most captivating cities – not mention the father (or mother) of New York. York is also one of the country’s most beguiling, as its position at the confluence of two rivers, its skyline dominated by a soaring cathedral, and its series of medieval streets, walls and gates are bound to take your breath away.

You could easily spend days re-tracing the steps of Viking conquerors, Roman soldiers, and English kings in ‘Old’ York, but if you are pressed for time, here’s my guide on how to spend one day in York, England.

one day in york england

Marvel At The Minster: 9:00 AM

You will probably spot the iconic towering spires of this cathedral as soon as you arrive in town, but you have to get up close to York Minster to fully appreciate its grandeur. Outside, the beauty of this Gothic cathedral (one of the largest in Northern Europe) is on full display, and once you’ve taken in the exterior, it’s time to head inside. Intricate stained glass, artwork, and soaring arches dominate the interior, with a guided tour (included in the price of admission) being the best way to learn about the history of this house of worship.

Walk The Walls: 11:00 AM

York is home to England’s most extensive set of intact medieval walls, and these ramparts make for a pleasant strolling place. The walls have existed in their current form for around a thousand years, but historians are certain that some of the stones date back to Roman times. Be sure to read the posted placards that detail the history of the walls during your walk.

one day in york england

Brunch At Bettys: 12:00 PM

Bettys Cafe & Tea Rooms are an institution in the county of Yorkshire, and their main location in York is as gorgeous as the food is delicious. Home to an interior inspired by the Queen Mary and serving a fusion menu of Swiss and Yorkshire delicacies (like the drool-worthy rosti pictured above), delicious tea, and baked goods, Bettys is sure to hit the spot after a morning of walking. Oh, and expect a line, because they come from far and wide for Bettys.

Swing Through The Snickelways: 2:00 PM

York is home to dozens of tiny hidden paths nicknamed ‘snickelways’, and they are a quirky way to cut through the city. Snickelways are often small, sometimes hidden, usually have an unusual name (Mad Alice Lane comes to mind), and are always a kick to discover.

one day in york england

Halt For Some History: 3:00

While the enthralling Jorvik Viking Center is currently undergoing refurbishment, you can still learn volumes about York’s past at the York Castle Museum, where past centuries are re-created in fun interactive displays. Alternatively, you can tour the meeting place of medieval guilds at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, home to a spectacular timber-framed Great Hall.

See The Shambles: 4:30

The big brother of the snickelway, The Shambles is York’s most famous medieval street. Looking precisely what you’d expect a street from this era to look like (complete with bent buildings), The Shambles used to be home to a bevy of butchers. Nowadays, it’s mostly boutiques and souvenir shops, but you can still spot the wooden shelves on the facades where the butchers used to plop their product.

one day in york england

Have A Pint At The Pub That Floods: 5:00

As anyone who reads this site knows, I am a big fan of hanging out in British pubs (like this riverside pub in Devon), and this one, right beside the river Ouse, is a real gem. It is called the King’s Arms, and, well, it has become famous for getting flooded, so much so that there’s a giant post inside the bar marking the water levels from past floods. If it’s dry when you visit, you’ll find a cozy brick interior with exposed beams and plenty of decent beer.

Go Ghost: 8:00

In a place with a history as rich as York, there’s bound to be some ghosts going bump in the night. Indeed, the city is rife with them, and at The Original Ghost Walk of York, they’ve been riveting visitors with tales of history and mystery since 1973.

 

An earlier version of this post appeared on TravelPulse.

All’s Great that Ends at Ullswater Lake

Ullswater Lake

While there are literally thousands of lakes layered across the landscape of Britain, tell someone you’re ‘heading to the lakes’ here, and they will immediately know precisely which set your setting off for.   

That’s because there is a group of ponds so ravishing, so romantic, and so revered throughout the land that they’ve become known simply as ‘The Lakes’, and these heavenly bodies of water and their surrounding mountains became the basis of the much beloved Lake District National Park.

Not nearly as well-known outside of Britain as it should be, kind of like Salcombe, Devon, The Lakes is the most cherished (and visited) outdoor playground in England, and Ullswater Lake might just be home to the finest combination of natural beauty, authentic charm, and cozy accommodation among them. Here’s a quick guide to Ullswater Lake to get you started.

Ullswater Lake

Blow Off Some Steam

The waters of Ullswater Lake are plied by a fleet of boats called Ullswater ‘Steamers’, which are modern-day descendants of 19th Century steamboats that used to ferry locals, tourists, and goods to-and-fro on this seven-mile-long lake. Today, it’s all about pleasure cruising, and watching the water chop from the deck of an Ullswater Steamer (or in the swanky wooden-paneled parlor below deck) is the quintessential Ullswater experience. In the morning, you’ll ride beside a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed bevy of walkers, cyclists, and their canine friends, with late afternoon cruises sedate and full of folks reviewing the pictures they took while exhausted dogs snooze at their feet.

Tip: The best value is definitely the ‘Round the Lake Pass’ as it allows unlimited rides on the ships, allowing the holder to hop on and hop off at their pleasure.

Ullswater Lake

View from the Ullswater Way

Walk This Way

Walking is without a doubt the most popular activity around The Lakes, and strolling on the Ullswater Way is a fine way to spend a day. It’s a twenty-mile-long path around the lake that weaves its way through storybook lakeside villages, under waterfalls, and gently up to ancient stone circles and vantage points that show off sweeping views of the water and countryside below.

Tip(s): Approaching Howtown from Glenridding on the Ullswater Way, make a detour up Hallin Fell, a heather-strewn hill home to friendly sheep and a spectacular view. Once you’ve returned to the trail from sipping in the vistas, follow the path to the Howtown Hotel and its most peculiar public bar, where you’ll sip delicious beer from local Tirril Brewery in an atmosphere reminiscent of a vintage film.

Ullswater Lake

Where to Stay

Just a few miles from Ullswater Lake in the village of Clifton, the George and Dragon is a cozy-yet-chic country inn and pub/restaurant, and a magnificent base for exploring the lake. Most of the produce and meat served is sourced from the owners’ own estate, with dinner (think tender ox cheek with creamy risotto and decadent cheese souffle) bring a gourmet gastro-pub affair and the bountiful English breakfast in the morning sure to keep you fueled for scaling hills well into the afternoon.

The rooms at the George and Dragon are light and bright with splashes of floral touches, which balance out the rustic wood beams in the hall of this old coaching inn brilliantly. The pub and its crackling fireplace are also worth noting for pouring fine beer and being home to an engaging and bend-over-backwards staff.

Trip Resources

Go Lakes: www.golakes.co.uk

Ullswater Steamers: www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk

The Ullswater Way: www.ullswater.com/the-ullswater-way

The George and Dragon: www.georgeanddragonclifton.co.uk

An earlier version of this post appeared on TravelPulse