Yorkshire Part 2: York

Right, York. Where to start? I love York and could go back again and again and again. There’s history aplenty, fabulous little alleys and crooked timber-framed houses. It’s a place where streets are known as “gates” (after the Norse word “gata” meaning street), the city gates are known as “bars”, and there are heaps of fabulous pubs.

We covered a lot of the normal sights in York on our last visit, so if you’re interested, you’ll find that post here. This time around we had just three things on our list:

  • Betty’s tearoom
  • York Minster
  • Christmas Markets

So, without further ado, let’s spend a few hours in York. Again, I apologise for some of these pics – it was a mostly grey day and very little light.

Imaginarium

This shop gets a heading all of its own. Sure, the name is just beyond fabulous (especially for a Pisces girl like me) but inside defies description.

Even the music choice they were playing was off-beat; while we were in there the song from Polar Express (Sarah’s second favourite Christmas movie) was playing, followed by music from Harry Potter soundtracks. 

We spent ages in the Christmas section…

Betty’s Tearoom

Betty’s began in Harrogate in 1919 and is so much of a Yorkshire classic and I can’t believe we haven’t eaten in here before…actually, yes, I can believe it – I detest queueing (even for food) and every time we’ve walked past previously there’s been a queue. This morning there was only a small queue, which I took as being a sign that it was meant to be, and it wasn’t long before we had a seat.

As for what we ate?

Although there was so much yummy to choose from, according to Sam at The Annoyed Thyroid, when in Betty’s one must have a Fat Rascal…so Grant and I shared one.

What’s a Fat Rascal? Essentially, it’s a plump fruit scone, but it’s not just a fruit scone. While there have been variations on the fat rascal around since the 19th century (Dickens refers to them), this North Yorkshire treat has been made famous by Betty’s who, according to Wikipedia sell almost 400,000 of them a year – and also now own the trademark. As an aside, I have a bit of a problem about them trademarking something which is regional, but that’s by the by. I guess North Riding Turf Cake (which is what they used to be known as) doesn’t quite have the same ring about it.

Anyways, Sammie has posted her recipe here and I also found this one by Lavender and Lovage. James Martin, my go-to on all things foodie and Yorkie has this one. Being James Martin, his recipe includes both lard and butter – and plenty of both. Anyways, I’ll post some pics when I make them at home.

We also shared some pikelets which aren’t like the pikelets we have here but sort of like yeasty pikelets that look like crumpets, like the ones I make at home occasionally for breakfast. Betty’s are good – thinner and more buttery crispy on the base than mine are. If you’re after a recipe, try this one, but after trying Betty’s I’ll be tweaking my recipe a tad.

Sarah had a macaron which was also very good indeed – and highly photogenic. Those raspberries were next level good.

York Minster

On each of our previous visits York Minster has been closed – completely unacceptable in my books – but this time we got lucky.

It is, however, huge – too big to be captured in a single photo. The pics below don’t go anywhere near to doing it justice.

Dating back to the 7th century and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe, it’s truly awe-inspiring. 

As magnificent as the vaults and the windows are, what was really interesting was downstairs – here were reminders of the original structure built in the mid 600s.

As an aside, the term “minster” was given in the Anglo-Saxon period to Missionary or teaching churches…don’t say you don’t learn anything here.

Christmas Markets

Last time we visited York it was the middle of November and while the Christmas markets had just opened, it wasn’t really Christmas, if you know what I mean. This time, though, the lights and the mood was so Christmassy that even Scrooge himself could be persuaded.

If ever there’s an upside to sunset by 4pm, it’s the lights and the Christmas magic.

As for the markets, here are the pics.

The Shambles

Originally butcher’s shops, these wonky half-timbered shopfronts are a must to visit.

They were also the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies.

Apparently, the producers requested permission from York City Council to film here but they were refused. Instead, they went away and designed a studio version. So there you go. There are now, of course, plenty of shops selling wands and other Potter paraphernalia.

Travel Tip

If you’re arriving by car don’t even think about bringing it into the city walls. In fact, don’t even think about thinking about it. York is a pedestrian paradise.

There are six park and ride sites just a few kilometres outside the city walls – where you can, for just a few pounds per person, leave your car safely and catch a bus into the city centre. There are heaps of spaces in the car park and the buses come every ten minutes or so.

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Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

12 thoughts

  1. Spectacular photos Jo! I remember visiting the Minster and wondering why we were given mirrors for the guided tour – until we realised it was to stop us getting sore necks from looking upwards in awe at the ceiling carvings 😀

    1. When I was younger I used to make pikelets that were like a small pancake or a blini, the ones in the north of England have yeast in them so they’re like a crumpet with holes in it but flat and unformed…and very yummy with butter. They’re more of a savoury than a sweet treat, but taste fabulous with jam or even vegemite/marmite.

  2. I’ve seen my fair share of cathedrals and old buildings Jo…..BUT I SO want to go to that Imaginarium and wander around. I love quirky things and the people who know how to choose them and sell the. Then I’d need a cuppa and scone at Betty’s to recover from it all!

  3. Food, history and shopping what else does a girl need? I have many memories making pikelets a very kiwi thing to do and perhaps it was a leftover from the Motherland. What’s not to love about York? Maybe the weather as we never did get a sunny day on our visits, though it never rained!
    Jo, it looked like you had a fabulous time.

  4. I am grateful to you and other blogging mates who have travelled and can bring these experiences to me. I imagine my grandmother, who was born in England might have visited here. I just love history and whilst it’s a shame I won’t get to do the same, it’s something I can appreciate through you too. Denyse #lovinlife

  5. Wow, Jo. What an amazing trip, and if the photos don’t do it justice, everything there must be spectacular, because the photos are pretty impressive. Thanks for sharing!

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