Five things to do in York

My latest novel The Pieces of You and Me is set in York – a city that is central to Rupert and Jess’s story. Rupert lives and works there and meets Jess again, for the first time in ten years, when she is on a hen weekend in the city. Together they avoid a difficult conversation by staring at the beauty that is the Minster and later picnic in Museum Gardens. Jess also has a hard time acclimitising to the Yorkshire winters (as did I when I first moved here).

As an adoptive Yorkshire dweller, York is one of my favourite places to visit and here are some of the things I like to do there:-

  1. Walk the Walls – York was founded in 71AD by the Romans, who named it Eborium and this is when the original Roman walls were built. Although parts of the walls are still of original Roman construction they were left in pretty bad repair after the defeat of the Vikings in 1066 and much of the wall that surrounds the city was rebuilt in Medieval times. The city itself is accessed through six ‘Bars’ or gates in the walls (two of which – Micklegate and Fishergate – play a part in The Pieces of You and Me). No visit to York would be complete without a walk around the City Walls. At 3.4 kilometres long, the beautifully preserved walls are the longest medieval town walls in England and the views are spectacular.
  2. Visit the Minster – York Minster is a medieval cathedral that is the seat of the Church of England in the north. There has been a church on this site since Saxon times and the West Window dates back to the fourteenth century. It is one of the most spectacular cathedrals in Europe and even if you don’t go inside (if you do, take a guided tour) you should try to see it at night when it’s illuminated because it is breathtaking. The Minster can be seen from all over the city but some of the best views are from the walls.
  3. The Jorvik Viking Centre – The Viking army, led by Halfdan and Ivar the Boneless, attacked York on 1 November 866 and remained for two hundred years, renaming the city Jorvik. The Viking Centre is a visitor’s centre containing lifelike mannequins and life-size dioramas depicting Viking life in the city. You take a little cart that drives you around giving you a real feel of what York would have been like in the 9th and 10th Don’t do what my brother did though and change the commentary to Japanese because it’s impossible to change back….
  4. Picnic in Museum Gardens – Contrary to popular belief we do get lovely weather in Yorkshire sometimes and Museum Gardens is one of the nicest places to spend a summer’s afternoon. They are botanic gardens in the centre of York beside the River Ouse (not far from where Dan moors his boat in The Pieces of You and Me). They cover an area of 10 acres of the former grounds of St Mary’s Abbey, and were created in the 1830s by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society along with the Yorkshire Museum which they contain.
  5. The National Railway Museum – when my husband said he wanted to go to the Railway Museum for his birthday I have to admit to silently groaning – but I promise you that this is far more interesting than you might think. It tells the story not only of Britain’s rail history but also its impact on our society. There is so much to see and do, including sitting inside old-fashioned trains (so much more legroom) as well as a Japanese Bullet Train. It’s free to visit and worth it for the vintage posters alone.

The Pieces of You & Me is out now (and if you’ve read it and would like to write a little review I would be so happy!)

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  1. Wondering what to do in York? Whether you re into steam trains, horrible history, chocolate tasting or ghost stories, York has something for everyone. Stroll around the city walls, discover Roman remains and Viking streets or climb to the top of York Minster. Read our guide below and find out about all the best tourist attractions and things to do in York.

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