I’m a freelance travel journalist and member of the British Guild of Travel Writers specialising in UK destination writing that contribute to guidebooks, newspaper and magazine articles across the globe. Publications include, Thomas Cook, Britain Magazine, Heritage Magazine, Ryanair, Stars & Stripes, Compass Guides, Daily Mail online, MSN, WTG and 10Best. My face for radio also occasionally pays dividends – though not cash - when I’m asked into BBC and Independent radio studios to blather on all things travel.
With a degree in History and Archaeology that's actually been put to practical use, I also spend my spare time as a tour guide ‘harrying’ York and Yorkshire with overseas visitors taking them to places not often covered in mainstream travel itineraries.
As a card carrying, banner waving English northerner now living on the North Yorkshire border, I spend long days and nights ambling and poking my Roman nose into York’s ancient streets and hidden alleyways. When it’s time to rest my head I've been lucky enough to hit the city’s most expensive thread dense, chocolate topped hotel pillows as well as it’s more budget bolsters.
Where I grab a beer: Sadly past the age where my drinking needs to be accompanied by pounding backbeats, The Three Legged Mare is one of my favourite places to head for those traditional pub pleasures of ambient noise made up of conversational murmurings accompanied and helped along by an intriguing choice of brews. Head to my York nightlife for some of my other suggestions.
Where I head for a warm drink: If the sun is out then it’s down to the small riverside terrace of La Place Verte for some seriously good D.I.Y Belgian hot chocolate. For coffee or tea infusions the calm and refinement of Grays Court is also hard to beat rain or shine.
My favourite dining spot: Another tough call amongst a vast buffet of good places to eat but the panache, quality and sheer joy of J Baker's Bistro Moderne is currently hard to resist. A recent return to the elegant D.C.H was also a good reminder of what a fine place this is too.
Best place for people watching: Busy St Helen’s Square corrals local shoppers, tourists, city workers and a collection of street entertainers whose talents or otherwise bring the crowds to a temporary halt.
Most breathtaking view: Loins girded, I make the 275 step ascent to the top of York Minster for some literally breathtaking and blustery views across the city and Vale of York beyond.
My favourite stroll: Has to be around the wonderfully preserved York City Walls that corset the heart of York, where its vistas offer a wonderful and ever-changing overview of York’s streets and rooftops. It takes me about an hour to do the loop and I find it best done early before the day trippers arrive or late in the day when they start to make their way back to the coach parks or train station. The New Walk along the Ouse is not too shabby either.
The best spot for peace and quiet: I head to the grassy and riverside spaces of Museum Gardens where close by the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey I can sit and watch the river traffic chug by. Like strolling the walls the best time is first or last thing in the day. Rowntree Park, just outside the centre comes a close second.
Secret shopping: The popular Stonegate and Petergate areas have their charm and rewards but for a small collection of retro clothing and foodie rewards away from the crowds I head to the lesser trod Fossgate. More details of these and more can be found on my Shopping in York.
Don’t leave without...a plan to come back. There's way too much to see and do in one visit
My expert information
Size isn’t everything
Diminutive it may be, but this magnificent city is dense beyond the laws of physics, packed to its medieval rafters in history, culture, shopping and some superb places to eat, drink and stay. All joyously accessible on foot; a visit to York should be an absolute and resounding 'must' on everyone's travel plans. So pack sensible shoes, lots of energy and come with the knowledge that with the countless things in store, one trip to York is hardly ever going to be enough.Read more...