One of the highlights of our trip to the city was a guided tour of the mysteries of this ancient town. There’s a few to choose between, and all follow a similar path throughout the central area. Delivered with articulate wit, some relatively dark humor, and the occasional scare or two, it’s a wonderful way of exploring the folklore after dark.
A Truly Medieval Atmosphere
One of the things to expect from a Ghost Tour is the atmosphere. Sure, the guides are professionals in putting the thrills in things, most having been in the business for over 20 years. All are Blue Badge qualified – meaning that they’re accredited and licensed by the local authority.
The true quality to the tour is the stunning medieval backdrop. Nothing compares when adding atmosphere with the towers, steeples, and encroaching buildings adding perfectly to a sense of mystery. Keep an eye out for the various devilish gargoyles – each has a place in the fables to be told. There are dozens throughout town, and many have been transferred from their previous homes and perfectly restored. As our guide mentioned, they’re emblems of the city and lovingly preserved.
Something which stood out for us was the meeting place. Outside a pub that gets routinely flooded throughout the year! This establishment has been around for several hundred years – adding yet more intrigue to the evening ahead. A pint of the local beer is a perfect way to fortify oneself for the evening, with Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout being a particular favorite.
The Tour Is Underway
Properly refreshed, it’s now time to meet the guide. As would be expected, they take cash only – £5 ($6ish) for adults and a little less for any kids in tow. Group size will depend on the time of year, but ours had about twenty or so. In high season it can become considerably more.
The first route undertaken was via the historic ‘Shambles’ district. Ever wondered what life was like for an Elizabethan era butcher? Nor had we, but the story is one I won’t spoil for you right now. It’s a slightly morbid one – made even more so by the guide pointing out a specific window.
Then the route takes a slightly different aspect. A couple of minutes walk away leads up to the York Minster. It’s unmissable for any visitor and dominates the whole cityscape. But at night, the floodlights make for an incredible view. Expect to be regaled by stories about the many kings and conquerors who played a vital role in creating the city as it is.
Highwayman’s Final Resting Point
The legend of Dick Turpin is a long one. Some think he ‘wasn’t bad’ for a criminal, but placing that into context is quite awkward. His burial place is an unassuming little spot in the corner of a graveyard.
As a highwayman, he ‘stood up’ carriages occupied by the wealthy, often letting the poor go untouched. Our guide was a legit expert about his history, and more especially about the folklore involved. Did he ever hurt anyone? Nobody can say for sure, but by all accounts, he was quite adept with his pistol.
The walk back into town takes you back towards history. Just over there was one of the places they buried and burned victims of the Plague. Oh, just stepped over the place where it’s believed that the Vikings built their first castle. Such little anecdotes are what makes the experience one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
No More Spoilers!
The tour takes about a couple of hours, but it would be unfair to share too much without giving away the surprises. That being said, expect to spend not much more than three miles actually walking. Our guide mentioned that it’s designed to be suitable for all ages, and incorporates wheelchair access.
Upon ending up the tour, we’re delivered back to another fabulous pub just before 10 pm. Perfect for a nightcap and then back to the hotel.