Exploring York with City Cruises

Part of our group in front of The Captain James Cook.

Part of our group in front of The Captain James Cook

In mid-September, twelve GTOs and guests joined Val Baynton on a Readers’ Event sampling a lunch cruise with City Cruises York followed by a guided tour of the city. Val reports back.

We all gathered for our lunch cruise with City Cruises York at King’s Staith Landing, which is close to the city centre and near to coach and car parks as well as being an easy 10-minute walk from York railway station. Welcomed by Mark Mattinson and Frazer Cronin from City Cruises, we boarded the Captain James Cook for our lunch time sailing. City Cruises also sail from a second city centre landing stage – Lendal Bridge Landing – so it couldn’t be easier to combine a cruise along the River Ouse with a day visiting York and taking in some of its historic attractions.

The 90-minute cruise sailed downstream to Bishopsthorpe Palace, the riverside home of the Archbishop of York. All the food for our two-course lunch was freshly cooked on board and was excellent, with great choices available for vegetarians and vegans. As well as lunch, City Cruises also offer Afternoon Tea Cruises and daytime and evening sightseeing tours, whilst Evening Dinner Cruises are launching in 2020. For Christmas there is a festive one-hour voyage with a glass of wine and mince pie – a warming option amidst a visit to York’s Christmas Markets.

At Bishopsthorpe Palace, Captain Keith slowly turned the boat so we could all admire the beautiful building and gardens, and as we travelled back upstream we enjoyed his commentary and amusing anecdotes about the heritage of the river. The Palace itself dates back to the 11th century when it was built by Archbishop Walter de Grey using stone from an earlier manor house on the site. We learnt about the Ouse, which meanders from its source in the Dales through York to Goole and the Humber estuary, and its importance to York’s history. We heard about the road bridges over the river including the A64 York bypass, which was built in two parts – one for each carriageway as a safety measure – and about the winning design based on bicycle wheel spokes for the Millennium Bridge, which opened in 2001.

All too soon we were back at the landing stage where we were introduced to Matthew Greenwood from Exploring York, who led us on an interesting walk from Clifford’s Tower through the winding medieval streets to York Minster. Matt’s stories brought the history of York from Viking times onwards to life – he explained the local language – that streets are known as gates, gates are known as bars and bars as inns! – and once you’ve mastered this bit of insider knowledge it’s much easier to find your way around. In the middle of the Shambles, we peeped inside the shrine to Margaret Clitheroe, persecuted for her Catholic beliefs and, in nearby Blake Street, learnt how Italian restaurant, Ask, is the tenant at the Grade One Listed Grand Assembly Rooms, which were built in magnificent Palladian style some 300 years ago.

As we all parted company to explore York further (using the York Pass supplied by Visit York), readers agreed that this city has plenty to entertain a group – and it would make a great base for an extended break as well as for a day trip. Thanks to City Cruises York and Matthew for hosting the day.


Walking tour to York Minster with Exploring York

Walking tour to York Minster with Exploring York

“Having not taken a group to York for eight years we were delighted to return and booked two extra days to give us time to explore…The City Cruises lunch cruise was very enjoyable and the menu choice was good… The guided walk was very informative and we learned a lot. We used our extra days to revisit many attractions including the Jorvik Centre, recently refurbished, and the Minster. York is an amazing city and a great location for groups. We will definitely be back.”
Laraine and Ashley, Gemmaway Travel

“A great showcase of what York has to offer today, so much to do and so at least a one or two night mid-week break would be my recommendation.”
Ruth, Fun & Fellowship, Stockport

“Can’t tell you how impressive today’s visit to York was! As well as being well organised, it was informative and really enjoyable. York has so much to offer that I definitely think it warrants a two day visit. I shall be working on this!”
Jill, U-GO Events, London

For further information, visit City Cruises York