Today, Obscure York will take a look at the different ways we can view the city. There are many sights to see in York that do not require you to pay. The city is architecturally fascinating, combining aspects of two millennia of history. From the Norman period, to Victorian and Georgian, right through to the modern day, York is visually striking.
Without question, the best way to see the city is from unusual aspects, and it is the various notable views of the city we will be exploring today.
From Precentor’s Court, towards the West Door of York Minster
This special view of the Minster is a treat because it requires an element of treasure-hunting to uncover. Precentor’s Court is at the end of a long, thin snickelway just to the left of The Hole in the Wall pub, on High Petergate. The Minster looms large beyond the red brick of the residential houses that line the alley. This view offers a fresh look at the great cathedral to the guide-book’s standard photos.
From the Central Tower, York Minster
Any view from the absolute highest point is going to be good, and the vista from the top of the Central Tower of the Minster ticks every box, excepting a view of the Minster itself. Although, the opportunity to see the building from a completely opposite angle is worth the 275-step climb. Rumour has it, that on a clear day, the coast of Scarborough can be seen from this point. (I have heard tell that even Scotland has been known to come into view, although I find that hard to believe.) Regardless, the view is breath-taking, and it’s fun to take a trip up the tower to see how separate parts of the city join up to each other.
From the M&S Café
When out and about shopping in town, make your way to the top floor of Marks and Spencer, and navigate your way to the recently refurbished M&S Café. From the clearly intentionally sized, shaped and positioned windows (together with viewing telescope), a grand and unusual view of the city can be achieved. The planners of the café knew what they were doing with their placement of the café. The situation of the site lends diners a unique and unobstructed view of Newgate Market, Silver Street and onwards to Swingate, Petergate, and, yes, York Minster, that early-Gothic photobomber that seems to want to get in all the shots. The view really is unrivalled, and definitely justifies the three escalator jaunt to see it.
These three views are my favourites, as they offer a fresh look at York, a city with some iconic guide-book photos in its back pocket. There are many other great views of York, and I urge you to trudge across the city to find them, and report back.