I had half a day to spare in York and decided to set myself the challenge of seeing something new. A tall order, perhaps, as this is a city I have been visiting regularly over the last 40 years. But I was determined to try, and managed to discover a “Hidden York” route, compiled by the AA.
Hidden York: Something Old or Something New?
Of course, when I say I wanted to see something “new”, I really mean something “old”. This is a city that is more than 2,000 years old, colonised by the Romans and the Vikings, and one of the most important towns in medieval England. It’s one of those places with something to see on every street corner: a Roman column, the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, or even a cholera graveyard…
Coincidentally the Hidden York walk began just opposite my hotel (the inexpensive but comfortable Jorvik House on Marygate). It took me across the Museum Gardens, past the Minster, and through the historic heart of York. And, despite the fact that most of the route was familiar to me, I did come across some hidden passages, old pubs and small chapels that I had not seen before.
The Hidden Spots of York
Like many old cities, York constantly surprises me with things I’ve not spotted before. Even on the well-trodden routes: I didn’t know that there was an old observatory in the Museum Gardens. And I was surprised by the Edible Wood, a garden planted with all manner of edible plants (this one actually is new, having been planted in 2015). Then there were the narrow passages (like Lady Peckett’s Yard with its 16th century buildings), and quiet streets that were almost devoid of tourists. I even passed a few old pubs I had never been to (and I really thought I knew all the pubs in York…)
I did take the odd detour, but that is the point of a walk like this. I stopped at Barley Hall, a medieval townhouse that is now a museum, and enjoyed the special exhibition of “Magic and Mystery” (which runs until June 2019). And, given the number of times I’ve walked the city walls, I was surprised to discover a section of medieval wall I’d never seen before – part of the enclosure of St Mary’s Abbey.
There was one disappointment. I was looking forward to walking through Holy Trinity Churchyard, described as “secluded and leafy”, but it was closed by the time I got there. But at least it means I’ll have something new to discover next time I go to York.