You wouldn’t go anywhere if you moaned every time it rained ‘ – one ever so slightly peeved mother at the top of her voice to her whining offspring shuffling across a windswept Lendal Bridge in York in the midst of the North of England’s Winter answer to the Indian monsoon ….
The huddled sodden masses within earshot, without doubt, would normally have agreed with her noble sentiments but in this instance sorry Mrs, but for once we firmly sided with the kid on this one! All maybe except the small ball of soggy light brown fur straining on the lead who had obviously decided that for today he was no small scruffy terrier but a magnificent Irish Water Spaniel reveling in the cold and wet in all its glory.
And it had all started so well, last day of holiday trip out, buy one get one free special offer bus tickets and an almost perfect journey to get to York, the historic County town, three bus journeys and no more than a couple of mins to wait between either of them.The plan was simple , a wander around the hisoric City Walls taking in the many memorable sites of the city , a gentle meander along wide banks of the River Ouse , a few dog friendly pubs in York’s warren of historic back streets to finish and home in time for tea . What was there to go wrong?
Firstly a salutary lesson in doing your research thoroughly beforehand when traveling with the mutt.Despite having investigated the route printing off a map, we had failed to read the small print and plans went awry when it was discovered that dogs are in fact banned from the city walls . In hindsight it’s easy to see why though, parts are high and narrow with little fencing, and whilst I know all you responsible dog owners reading this would do their level best to ensure pooch doesn’t get in the way of others, we all know that there will be one dickhead with their out of control mutt wandering off lead to let the side down .Also without being too indelicate, we are well aware of Bruce’s ability to pee on ever 90 degree shaped object when out and about, seriously if you were York’s Tourist bosses, would you like to see your delicate historical assets put at risk by the antics of every male dog passing?
Not to worry quite yet plan B into action onto the River Bank.The Ouse is central to most things in York and even in the midst of winter provides an amiable wander along with the dog taking in many differing views of the city. Dotted with plenty of spots to eat and drink makes it a more leisurely stroll in the summer months (obviously a time for some more research! ) but in the winter the lack of visitors compared to other parts of the city make it a real oasis of calm, shared in some places only with the numerous ducks and geese and the occasional oarsmen from the City Rowing Club for company.
Our walk began at Clifford’s Tower the spectacular ‘Castle on the Hill ‘ and the only part left of York’s Original Medieval Castle, The Castle Museum that stands adjacent houses the former Prison where Dick Turpin was famously held. Apparently, there is some half-arsed plan to build a visitor centre at the foot of the distinctive mound of the Tower. Seriously you tell me ???
Like Leeds and other Cities where the River was key to its industrial success, the former Riverside Warehousing has been turned into more upmarket apartments and flats on one side of the river but the pedestrian access on the other bank is wide and open and solid underfoot as we headed further into the town center.
Possibly one of the most iconic images of York in recent times is that of the Sam Smiths Pub, The Kings Arms adjacent to the footpath regularly under water as the Ouse floods, sadly it’s not dog -friendly and neither does it sell real ale so onwards towards the railway station and on out of the city center into green parkland going out towards to Acomb, with great view behind us of the Cityscape dominated by the Minster’s Towers .
Sadly all of us just getting into our walking stride, the Heavens opened, not just squally cold rain , but a wet to the skin in 5 mins downpour and a quick double back saw us retreat through the Yorkshire Museum Grounds, (what would be a lovely green space in the city centre with some ancient ruins and dog friendly ) and onto a Bar that describes itself as ‘dog mad’ on its Twitter account, obviously research was needed !
Our destination ‘Brigantes’ (apparently named after a Celtic Tribe of the North of England !) on Mickelgate our destination without doubt in our mind pretty much lives up to that claim. Although it wasn’t busy and indeed Bruce was the only dog in, when we inquired about the policy on dogs in the pub, it was the genuine enthusiasm of the two girls behind the bar for the places canine customers that shone through to back up this claim. Both despite being busy crept out for a sly fuss of Bruce, offer water bowls, tell tales of their canine regulars and their exploits and suggest other dog-friendly places and pubs in the city to visit.
With dogs allowed everywhere, wooden floors and plenty of space, Brigantes is to be an ideal venue for your York post dog walk pint. Being on Micklegate, slightly away from the main tourist sites and more infamous for its weekend night ‘run’, during the day it seems to be quieter than many other areas of the city that can get phenomenally busy especially in summer and by far a more practical option with the dog. Plenty of Yorkshire beers to choose from, decent coffees and daily papers provided add to a relaxed atmosphere, another one we’ll be back to!
Heading back into the main center we foolishly attempted York’s most famous street The Shambles with its narrow cobbled walkway and houses that allegedly at their narrowest point you can shake hands across. Sadly any historic value including the Shrine to Catholic Martyr Saint Margaret Clitheroe seems to be lost as the place appears to be marketing itself as a cut-price version of Diagon Alley with half the street turned over to Harry Potter Tat Shops and maybe it felt just a tad sad when you see more visitors crowding for photos or queuing to get into ‘The Shop with No Name ‘ than the Magnificent Minster , maybe they should be renamed ‘The Tourist’s with no Brain ‘… With the’ muggels ‘ far far too engrossed in taking their selfies, poor Bruce was stood on a couple of times so it was prudent to beat a hasty retreat .With the rain now on ‘small puddle in bottom of boots’ level and non of my well researched pubs in sight , we chanced upon the Three Tuns , close to the Jorvik Viking Centre and for once a sign outside indicating ‘dogs welcome’ (ok ,well behaved dogs , we’re half way right with the Bruce ). Very much in the thick of the main visitor areas I was convinced they’d take one look at our very soggy doggy and say ‘no way Jose’ but nope another warm welcome at the bar, a wry smile at the slighty damp and bedraggled threesome and we were in, even finding a bonus radiator to dry off next to .
As a stopgap the Three Tuns, was fine – the welcome was warm (as was the radiator!), beer was well kept from a fairly limited big brewer range but it was a very much a touristy place (not of course that we aren’t )full of family’s with burgers and pop and shopping parties of Geordie Old Folk eating fish and chips so not really our sort of place but I’m sure others will love it , however if your passing it’s dog friendly credentials are second to non so for that alone it’s worth a second visit .
So would we return to York ? Without a doubt yes despite our non too successful day . Obviously checking the weather forecast next time is a given! Also perhaps missing out high summer when I can from our experiences on the Shambles, narrow busy streets and four-legged friends do not a good combination make. Spring or Autumn midweek would perhaps be a better option for a visit. We barely scratched the surface of the place on our day with plenty of walks to do and investigating further on the bible that is the CAMRA What Pub Guide a plethora of more mutt-friendly venues to try out
The Riverwalk itself can be extended to open spaces at Clifton Park to the North and go south from Clifford’s Tower you can find Rowntrees Park adjacent to the bank, while a short walk will bring you to the famous Knavesmire, a vast patch of open ground that houses York’s Racecourse, which on non meeting days is a haven for dog walKs.
In the City Centre, the Circular Walls walk can be done at ground level on footpaths and streets running adjacent to the historic boundary.The internet is littered with different walks around the City, though some of the best can be found on the York Civic Trust Site who have collated together some a fine collection of themed walks and trail to download so whether you are into so whether you are into Romans, Vikings, Chocolate, Gruesome deaths or Railways there is something to try, even one on historical toilets , perfect for the caninr watering can that is Bruce !
Apologies folks for my lack of photos on this post – wet cold hands and running for shelter are not compatible with anywhere competent photography !