There’s more to York than The Shambles. Kristina Woolnough and Rosemary Goring report.
Yorkshire has an extraordinary public image. Windswept, earthy, strange vowels and ‘eeh bah gum’ are not uncommon reflections. It is claimed that the Bronte sisters (if not Heathcliffe and Cathy) still roam the moors, wailing. James Herriot doesn’t do much for the image either, with arm perpetually embottomed and locals perpetually yokels. And Dracula also sprang from the loins of this landscape. which. the more one ponders it, becomes increasingly godforsaken. But forget all that. Flee the moors and head for the county’s capital city — slick, sophisticate of the north. As
an indication ofthe relative sedateness ofthe place (contrary to howling writers and resilient ghosts), take your mother. Feast on gateaux in York‘s bountiful tea-houses and walk it off round the city wall. A snip at three and a half miles (or two and a half. as some guides would have us believe).
The tea-houses have lingered long in the memory of many an intrepid traveller. The practised York-visitor will trill on unwittingly about the wonders of their own gluttony. ‘Go to the tea-houses. They‘re incredible. All inglenooks and huge slabs ofcheesecake. You ask for a
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modest slice and you get half the cake. Of course. you feel obliged to eat it. There‘s none of this nouvelle cuisine. Big portions ofeverything.‘
Hearty fare and stomachs aside (steak and kidney pie is a local speciality). the city-wall walk gives you your bearings and an insight into other people’s back gardens. York Minster, still under repair and under speculation about the wrath of God etc. is the city‘s focal point. A dawn raid or a twilight tiptoe will project you into the metaphysical. lfyou get there early enough. you‘ll catch the serfs hoovering the cracks between the flag-stones and dusting every prayer book and patting every cushion. Evensong is definitely worth going to. One unwholesome tourist enthused: ‘It would bring a tear to a glass eye.’
Jaunts to the Norman castle. the railway museum and the Castle museum all prove stimulating. But the Jorvik Centre is. apart from the Minster. York‘s most renowned tourist attraction. Built on the site of the original Vikingexcavations. it takes you back through the Yorkian centuries on a little train. A Magnus Magnusson voice-over tells all as you go along. Lifelike models of present day and past Yorkers flash before your eyes and nose. The sacking of York. just after the Norman
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Conquest. is accompanied by the sound ofcrackling flames and an unnerving smell of burning. Unaromatic scents continue with the passing of the latrines and concentrating occupants. Then you travel past the actual excavations. complete with undug remains poking forth from the earth. Lastly. the discovered Viking loot is presented in glass cases for perusal.
The Shambles. a tiny twisty Medieval street. is much frequented by tourists too. but you may find the plastic Minsters a little hard to take. Another street name deserves mention: the Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate.
Overall findings“? The friendliness of the Yorkers strikes a chord. The warm feelings in your heart will be duplicated in your stomach ifyou visit the pubs in surrounding villages. Their home-cooked dumpling-type food is highly recommended. A boat trip on the unfortunately named River Ouse makes a nautical diversion for the tripper. York. 1900 years old. began with the beginning ofAD time. and its inhabitants through the ages have all left their mark. So modern shops sit next to Medieval. Tudor and Norman buildings. while beneath them all there are probably undiscovered Viking remains waiting to get out.
I ACCESS BY TRAIN is fast from Edinburgh as York lies on the London route. From Glasgow, it's best to trek across to Edinburgh. An ordinary return from both cities costs £53 (valid lor3 months). A Saverticket (valid lor1 month) costs 231 (not for travel on Fri/Sat) or £40 (any day). Railcard holders E26 return. Times etc from Scotrail on 031 556 2451 or 041 204 2044.
I NATIONAL EXPRESS COACHES run daily from Edinburgh and Glasgow. The ioumey takes ahout 6V2 hours, but is cheap at
219/220 respectively (not travelling on Friday). With a student Coachcard. you get a third off these prices. The card costs £3.60 (from student travel specialists Campus Travel. Glasgow and the Edinburgh Travel Centre). It’s valid for one year and you'll need a matriculation card and a passport photo to be eligible for one.
Where To Stay
I YORKTOUR offer York breaks from £14 per person (one night 8&6, based on two people sharing). Phone 0904 610404 for brochure and details.
I A FULL ANO ENORMOUS listing of 866s, sell-catering, guesthouses and hotels is available from
the Tourist Information Centre on 0904 621 756. The Centre also offers an accommodation-finding service to personal callers during the summer. See below tor the address.
I IN ATENT. List of camping/caravan sites in the York area from the Tourist Information Office.
What To Do
I The TOURIST INFORMATION SERVICE lives in the De Grey Rooms, Exhibition Square, York Y01 2N0. Opening hours: 9am—0pm Mon-Sat; 2-5pm Sun (summer).
I Don't miss the YORK FESTIVAL ANO MYSTERY PLAYS which begins on 10 June for a IroIicksome month. Highlights include
nightly Medieval Mystery plays, the London Contemporary Dance Theatre in the Minster, the Moscow State Circus, rock, pop. folk, roots and iazz music, the Swedish Opera Company. the English Shakespeare Company and many, many more events theatrical, musical. artistic, lestive. General enquiries to 0904 610266. Special ticket/rail travel otters are available.
I THE JORVIK VIKING CENTRE (Jorvik being Norse for York) is at Coppergate, York. Open every day 9am-7pm (summer season).
I THE NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM has every type of train- electric, diesel and steam - on show for bottlns
and the terminally curious alike. To be found at Leeman Road, Mon-Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 11am-6pm.
I YORK MINSTER is open to the public Tam-dusk daily. Should you have any trouble locating it, it resides rather noticeably at 4 College Street.
I YORK CASTLE MUSEUM houses rooms, shops and pubs from times past. Its summer opening hours are Mon—Sat 9.30am—5.30pm; Sun 10am-5.30pm.
I WALKING TOURS will trot you to all parts of the city. The Tourist lnforrnation Centre has details.
I Three operators conduct GHOST-RELATED WALKING TOURS. Take your pick of the spooks lrom 0904
421107 or 0904 426767 or 0904 421737.
I YORK- THE OFFICIAL GUIDE is published by York City Council and it describes itsell as an 'essential traveller‘s reference'. Available for £1.50 plus 25p P6P (cheque/PO payable to York City Council) trom Marketing and Communications Group, YCC. Guildhall. York Y01 ION.
I There is an AA CITY GUIDE TO YORK costing £6.95. which contains historical. tourist, and general interest information as well as maps and a city plan.
The List 27 May - 9 June 1988 59