Places to Visit in North Yorkshire
phill @ philljamesbroadcasting.co.uk
phill @ todoinyork.com

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Visit York and North Yorkshire through Video

The video below relates to Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York England and we explore the historic walled city very early on a Sunday morning when the streets are clear. We discover York’s many historic attractions, museums, parks, bridges and rivers and of course its gothic cathedral. All aboard for York!

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Narrative from Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

In May 2018, the Coastliner bus service from Leeds to Whitby, the 840, became an award winner as it is the most scenic bus route in Great Britain. This is encouraging because bus services have had to struggle with cutbacks over recent years. In any case, we wanted to explore some of the attractive calling points along this route including YorkMaltonPickeringThornton le DaleHole of HorcumGoathland and Whitby. We’ll show you some walking routes, interesting landmarks, historical areas and beauty spots.

Because of this weeks inclement weather, today I’m in one of Yorkshire’s most historic city’s and it resides on the path of Britain’s most scenic bus route from Leeds to Whitby. It is world famous for the largest gothic cathedral in Europe as well as its most complete city walls in the country. And this is one of the interesting aspects of this bus route, because it consists of idyllic scenery, city’s towns and villages, beauty spots, and places of historical interest. I have to admit however, that today I’ve not caught one single bus, but that’s because I am in my own city, the historic city of York. We’ve arrived exceptionally early on a Sunday morning when the streets are clear to show you around.

Around the world, there are many incredible places to visit and every country has its gems. However, we should never forget our own back garden and what better way to explore it than receiving a panoramic view from the Coastliner bus. Britain’s most scenic bus route begins its journey at Leeds Bus Station, and ventures forward to town of Tadcaster that is famous for its breweries. It then proceeds to the historic cathedral and walled city of York and after brushing against the Castle Howard area before arriving in Malton. In our Malton, Norton and Old Malton episode we will deviate slightly by taking the 194 service to Hovingham. Back on the 840, we venture onwards to Flamingo Land at Kirby Misperton, as well as arriving at the market town of Pickering the home of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. In the North York Moors national park we explore Thornton le Dale before heading northwards brushing with Dalby Forest and receiving stunning views of the Hole of Horcum. We then arrive at Goathland known for the successful ITV drama Heartbeat. The scenery continues through Sleights and Ruswarp before arriving at the popular seaside resort of Whitby.

All of the Coastliner buses, both to Whitby and Scarborough call at York with stops throughout the city, but the main stops being the railway station and Stonebow.

York Railway Station & National Railway Museum

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

York station at the time of completion was the largest railway station in the world and was designed and built by William Peachy and Thomas Prosser in 1877. This Victorian station was an engineering marvel because it was built on a curve, including the platforms, buildings and station roof. In fact, along with chocolate, the railway was the largest employer in the city at the time. It is fitting then that the National Railway Museum resides at the opposite entrance to the station on Leeman Road. The museum contains the famous Mallard, Flying Scotsman and the Japanese Bullet from the 1960’s and it is free entry!

Royal York Hotel

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

However, the station has an adjoining Victorian hotel which was previously the Royal York Hotel, except it is a misnomer as no members of the Royal family have stayed here. Today it is the Principal Hotel.

Lendal Bridge York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Following the road under the arch of the city wall takes you to Lendal Bridge, one of three road bridges in the city centre. It was built by William Dredge between 1861 and 1863 although the idea came in 1838 and caused a dispute between the railway companies and the Corporation of York.

Barker Tower York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Barker Tower served as one of the city’s defences when a great chain was stretched over the river to prevent invaders as well as collect taxes before being allowed through. It was also the Ferryman’s residence before Lendal Bridge was built here. 

Lendal Tower York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Across the river resides Lendal Tower that was found on the other side of the chain. It was built in 1299 at the time of Richard I. In 1677 however, it was leased to York Waterworks Company for just a peppercorn for 500 years! It is now accommodation. 

St Leonard’s Hospital York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Over Lendal Bridge you will see what is left of St Leonard’s Hospital and can be accessed through the museum gardens or by the city library. It was the largest hospital in the north of England and was part of the Minsters grounds. It replaced St Peter’s Hospital but along with the Abbey close by, it was destroyed in the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. He wanted to end such religious communities so funds could be used for military purposes instead and some argue he wanted funds simply for the crown.  It was dissolved in 1540, the year after Whitby Abbey. What remains today is the undercroft of the chapel and it is strongly advised to go and view the intriguing pillars that support the roof. 

Museum Gardens York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

The Museum Gardens is far from just a city centre park, but is also the site of some major attractions in the city. 

Multangular Tower York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

On the right hand side when entering the gardens you will see the Multangular Tower which is part of the original Roman wall that surrounded and protected the fortress that was built here. The Viking destroyed much of the walls when they arrived, destroying many of the towers but they preserved this particular structure. The original simple tower was more than likely built around 100-200 A.D. and the present 300 A.D. It was the north west corner tower over looking the River Ouse. 

Multangular-Tower
Multangular-Tower

As the name suggests, it has multiple angles and you will notice the plinth skirt at the bottom. It originally had 14 sides and the missing was part of an entrance way to the internal structure. It was built from magnesium limestone and the foundations kind of an early concrete. 

You can also see the opposite side of the structure by finding the short path up the bank on the left of the structure, opposite the Kings Manor grounds. Many visitors and residents have missed this exciting path which reveals not only the rear of the Multangular Tower but also the undercroft of the chapel belonging to St Leonard’s Hospital. You can touch the wall with both hands and gloat that you have held a Roman artefact to all your family and friends. Not that I’ve done this.

The Yorkshire Museum York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Returning to the museum gardens, you have probably noticed already that we are a stones throw to the Yorkshire Museum, one of York’s predominant attractions. The Yorkshire Museum reveals the history of the region in the form of exciting exhibitions, from dinosaurs and fossils to Viking’s and Romans. Don’t miss the medieval Cawood Sword that was discovered in the River Ouse!

York Observatory

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

York Observatory was built in 1832 making it the oldest working observatory in Yorkshire. The telescope was made by a local, Thomas Cooke in 1850 who later made the largest telescope in the world.

St Mary’s Abbey York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Way before Museum Gardens, the land was part of St Mary’s Abbey, the largest and richest Benedictine abbey in England. Much of the Abbey was pulled down in the dissolution of the monasteries and only its remnants remain today. A religious presence was established in 1055 with the construction of a church. The abbey however, endured extensive fire in 1137, but what we see today is from the reconstruction dating back to 1271. After the Norman conquest, the church came into the possession of the Anglo Breton Alan Rufus and granted the land to Abbot Stephen and a group of Monks from Whitby.  After completion of the church it was rededicated to Virgin Mary. 

St-Marys-Abbey-York
St-Marys-Abbey-York

The Hospitium York 

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

You will also notice a timber framed building known as the hospitium, meaning hospitality. As some visitors were not allowed to stay with the Monks in the abbey, they had a separate accommodation which you see here. Today it is used as a function venue. You will also notice a stone archway which was a gate to access boats. The water would have come up to the hospitium which suggests it may have had a warehouse function as well for the abbey. 

The-Hospitium-York
The-Hospitium-York

St Mary’s Abbey Gatehouse York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Another structure in Museum Gardens is the gatehouse to the abbey, St Mary’s Lodge, which is now the offices of York Museums Trust. In its heyday poorer citizens would come here and claim alms. The fact that there was an abbey gatehouse reveals that the abbey also had walls which much are intact today.  You will see a circular tower to these walls by the river where the abbey also had a toll system on the Ouse. Next to the gatehouse however, you will see St Olave’s Church. It was situated within the abbey walls and wasn’t omitted in the dissolution of the monasteries. What we see today is a 15th century reconstruction.

We are now going to follow the abbey walls to Exhibition Square and these walls made St Mary’s the largest walled abbey in England. The walls were constructed to give the monks privacy as well as a defence against invaders.  You will notice the cone shaped corner tower on the junction to Bootham. Another rarity, in York anyhow, is the classic red phone box next to it. Many of these are used to grow tomatoes with the advent of mobile phones.  Following the wall along you will eventually come to Victoria Arch and another tower which would have been another corner point. Many people confuse the abbey wall with the city wall but they are completely separate with a similar function.

York Art Gallery and William Etty Statue

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Opposite stands York Art Gallery and a statue of William Etty. The art gallery was constructed in 1879 as a venue for the Great Exhibition but now owned by York Museums Trust. It was the home of Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition which previously was displayed in a temporary chalet. The building received bomb damage during 1942 and was later reopened in 1948. There is a fitting reminder to William Etty in a form of a statue outside the museum who was a Victorian artist. However, his work was somewhat risqué as he painted nudes. Etty and the York Footpath’s Association also prevented the city walls from being demolished to allow better traffic flow through the city. So you can thank him for his efforts today.

York-Art-Gallery-and-William-Etty-Statue
York-Art-Gallery-and-William-Etty-Statue

Kings Manor York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Another building that was also once part of the abbey grounds is Kings Manor. This too would have been pulled down in the dissolution of the monasteries except Henry VIII spared it as he admired the building. However, the manor, now belonging to York University, was built in 1270 but extended in 1480 and 1610. You can now study archaeology here, and there is also a cafe open to the public. 

York Theatre Royal

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

On the opposite side of the road is York Theatre Royal that stands in the grounds of what once was St Leonards Hospital we encountered earlier. This popular theatre has recently been refurbished and hosts some compelling entertainment. The 1744 theatre replaced a theatre in Minster Yard, built by Thomas Keregan, with the encouragement of the City Corporation, in 1734.

Bootham Bar York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

I’m sure you have already noticed Bootham Bar which ironically, although having a Victorian staircase to the city walls, also contains some of the oldest stonework. A gateway existed for some 800 years but the original Roman gate would be around 2000 years. The stone figures you see are Nicholas DeLanterne who was Lord Mayor, a stonemason holding a model of the bar as well as a soldier protecting the city.

York Minster

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

The most prominent structure in the entire city is the huge gothic cathedral known as York Minster, or its more cumbersome name of Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York. York Minster is the largest gothic cathedral in Europe and dates back to 1220. However, parts of the cathedral were constructed as time progressed until 1472. It is a Minster because it was built in Anglo-Saxon times and it is a cathedral because it has the seat of an arch bishop. 

Minster Views on the York City Walls
Minster Views on the York City Walls

One thing to listen out for is the enormous sound of the 10.8t bell Great Peter who heralds the hour across the city of York. Try standing underneath and take a video or audio recoding with your phone. 

The cathedral has around 128 stained glass windows, and they tend to have names such as the Great East Window, Five Sisters Window, Rose Window etc. The great east window is the largest expanse of stained glass in the world. 

Roman Headquarters York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Across the street from the minster you will see an old Roman column. Religion hasn’t dominated this area for always as there was a Roman headquarters here prior to the Minster. In actual fact, Stonegate was the approach to the Roman headquarters although it would have looked a lot different. You will also notice a statue of Constantine the Great who in AD 306 was the proclaimed emperor of York. The statue however was commissioned in 1998.

Guy Fawkes Residence York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Another interesting structure across on Petergate is the once home of Guy Fawkes born in 1570, who failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. The building now is a public house and place to stay. 

York Minster School and St Williams College

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

At the rear of the Minster you will see a large red building which is the Minster School. It faces the Great East Window of York Minster, and emphasises the fact that the Minster was also a site of religious education. Further along the Queen’s path is the timber framed St William’s College as well as Minster Yard. 

Chapter House York Minster

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Heading to Minster Yard you will observe the octagonal Chapter house that was added to the Minsters nave in the 1260’s. The chapter house contains some of the finest gothic sculptures all of human heads and all unique. 

Treasurer’s House York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Opposite you will notice the Treasurer’s House which was acquired by Frank Green who created a lavish show home that impressed Edward VII. His passion for history helped to preserve not only this building but also others in the city. Unfortunately, as we are early, we are unable to take footage. 

Monk Bar York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Following the road you will eventually see the rear of Monk Bar and the Richard III Experience. Monk Bar is the tallest of the bars, bars being the word for gates, at 63ft. Each floor was able to defend itself separately, and it once served as a prison for rebellious catholics. It is just offset of the original Roman gate that once existed. This gate however, dates back to the 14th century.

Bile Beans Historic Advert York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

This historic advert isn’t advertising baked beans, but a Victorian health supplement being a laxative. No I don’t either.

The Shambles York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Heading backwards towards Goodramgate takes us to Kings Square and Petergate. You will notice York Chocolate Story which accurately portrays York’s historic confectionary production. And tucked snuggly in the corner is the Shambles with some rather tucked in properties.

The Shambles
The Shambles

A cattle market once existed in the Walmgate area of York and livestock was brought to the Shambles to be slaughtered in a yard behind the street. Fresh meat was then sold along the window ledges down the Shambles. You might consider the almost touching roofs above you to be a flaw in construction but in actual fact they were designed this way, to protect the meat below from direct sunlight. Remember no ice in those days. The Shambles is a common term in most market towns and cities as it is derives from Flashamels which is a combination of flesh and ledges the meat was sold on. Today however, this historic cobbled street hosts some fantastic artisan shops and attracts myriads of visitors. 

Also, in the present day, York still sells its wares on shelves in the form of The Shambles Market, that is a great place to browse and shop.

At the foot of the Shambles you will see a timber framed house that now belongs to York Gin. It originally was occupied by Sir Thomas Herbert who was a personal assistant to King Charles I and even attended him at his execution in the capital city. After the execution, Sir Thomas Herbert was now jobless and he retired back to York. 

Don’t forget to have a peak at York’s shortest street with just 3 properties. How fast can you say Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate?

All Saints Church York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

All Saint’s Church has an unusual lantern that used to contain a fire to guide residents and visitors into the city through the dangerous forest of Galtres at night. However, it is not the only church with this kind of lantern tower in York.

Coppergate Centre

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Next to All Saints resides the Coppergate Centre, not just a place to go shopping but also has the famous Jorvik Viking Centre. This is where you can use your senses to explore the Viking world.

St Mary’s Church York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Literally behind the shopping centre resides York’s tallest spire, not tower, but spire belonging to St Mary’s Church. This church brings us to the original street to the castle, fittingly Castlegate. You will find the grand Georgian townhouse open to the public, Fairfax House. You will also find York Army Museum that describes the history of the Royal Dragoon Guards. 

Clifford’s Tower (York Castle)

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

More conspicuous however, is the remnants of York Castle, Clifford’s Tower. This is the survivor of one of two castles that were beside each other with the River Ouse between them. Originally they were both constructed in wood, and Clifford’s Tower received an upgrade in stone. Clifford’s Tower originally had a moat and castle walls which some exist today behind the Castle Museum. It is also the site of the Massacre of the Jews, a dark chapter in York’s history.

Clifford-Tower-York-Castle
Clifford-Tower-York-Castle

York Castle Museum

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

The Castle Museum is the site of where the castle complex once stood. A bridge over the moat existed from the entrance of the Clifford Tower taking you to another rectangular mound of earth which was walled. The museum however, reflects York’s local history within exhibitions and it also contains the famous Kirkgate, a mock of a victorian street that was rebuilt brick by brick inside the museum itself. 

If you’re in the right place at the right time, you may also have the opportunity to ride on a Victorian style carousel.

River Ouse and Skeldergate Bridge

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Beside the castle you will notice the River Ouse once again and Skeldergate Bridge which was the site of a second chain across the river. This bridge however was built in 1878 by George Gordon Page. The Ouse Bridge was the first bridge in the city but this is far from the original one. This particular version was built in 1821 as the previous bridge collapsed killing 12 people. Don’t forget to take a look at York’s most flooded public house the King’s Arms. 

York Dungeon and Grand Opera House

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Another of York’s predominant attractions is the York Dungeon that describes horrible histories in the form of theatrical shows, and it’s just a short walk from the Castle.

Almost neighbours is the Grand Opera House which of course also hosts theatrical shows and pantomimes. 

Coney Street and Spurriergate

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Further down the road you will see Coney Street which is the home of York Mansion House, the Lord Mayor’s residence open to the public. As you’d expect, this lavish house is home to some elegant rooms and pieces. 

York-Mansion-House
York-Mansion-House

On your way you will see the recently restored overhanging clock at St Martin le Grand’s church. Beside it resides York’s skywalk that hosts bars and places to relax as well as the setting for York City Screen and Basement venue.

Betty’s Tea Rooms

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Meanwhile, on Davygate around the corner resides the ever popular and famous Betty’s Tea Rooms, of which the first opened in 1919 in Harrogate and they are still there today.

Merchant Adventurer’s Hall York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Returning to the foot of The Shambles we cross the road to head down Fossgate. On the right hand side you will see access to the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall. York Merchant Adventurer’s Hall is a medieval Guildhall and was a meeting place for the Guild of Our Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1357.  It was granted the Company of Merchant Adventurers of York by Elizabeth I.   The undercroft once served as a hospital for poor people in the city.  It is one of the finest guildhalls in the world. 

Walmgate Bar York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

However, walking further down Fossgate and towards Walmgate you will see Walmgate Bar. You’ll first notice the white Elizabethan structure supported on pillars which is presently a cafe, but constructed in 1584. Walmgate Bar is the most complete gateway in the country as it still has its portcullis, a large wooden gate with iron tips, and its barbican, the outside wall that traps invaders so that missiles could be thrown at them. It also has some 15th century solid oak doors too. You can walk through and examine these and the barbican. If you turn left, you can find the only red brick structure on the city walls known as the Red Tower. Alternatively, we are going to walk right and head towards the fittingly name Barbican Centre which is famous for holding snooker events. 

Walmgate-Bar-York
Walmgate-Bar-York

Fishergate Bar York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Opposite the Barbican Centre is Fishergate Bar which is a gateway without internal rooms. The red plaque above the arch reveals the date of the structure 1315. It was once bricked up after a peasants revolt against taxes and reopened again in 1834. Walking through it you will see a graveyard with just one headstone on the left. This is the headstone of Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman originally from Essex.

Fishergate Tower York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Fishergate Tower, the next point of call on the city walls was built in 1504 and is occasionally open to the public. The smaller river, the River Foss would meet up to the wall where there was a King’s fish pool. Today the Foss is canalised, and a bridge crosses the Foss to the castle area. 

Following the walls along, you will come to Baille Hill which is the site of York’s second castle which was made in wood. 

Victoria Bar York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Continuing along the walls you come to Victoria Bar, and this is fittingly named because it was created in Victorian times. Interestingly, foundations of a previous bar with internal rooms was found here.

Micklegate Bar York

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

Eventually you come to Micklegate Bar nearby which is home to the Henry VII Experience. It was the royal entrance to the city owing to its south facing position. Richard II began a tradition for monarchs to touch the sword he donated confirming the gift when entering the city. Monarchs also had to ask for the mayors permission before entering. More gruesome, traitors heads were boiled in tar and hung outside the bar as a warning, including the Duke of York. 

Micklegate-Bar-York
Micklegate-Bar-York

Micklegate is also a cobbled street at the foot of the hill and it contains some interesting structures en route such as this timber framed building.

York War Memorial

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route York

On your way back to the bus stop, don’t forget to take a look at the Great War Monument designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens which was controversial at the time as the design wasn’t in keeping with the architecture of the day. 

Also, across the road from the station are some headstones for cholera victims that broke out in 1832. Until next time!


Further Series Pertaining to North Yorkshire

The North Yorkshire Reporter

My North Yorkshire Walks Video Diaries

North Yorkshire Photography Workshop (Phovlography)

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route