There are numerous ghost tours of York available. DAO arranged for us to go on this tour during the Winter Warmer VT Meeting in January 2007. The tour guide was excellent, fully involving the group in all the stories he told and obviously an accomplished guide (and actor). He also was fully aware of his health and safety responsibilities for both the group and other tourists and locals passing the group.
The tour lasts about 95 minutes and starts at the ends of the Shambles. There's no need to book, just turn up at either end of the Shambles (whatever the weather) and you will be collected by the tour guide dressed in his Victorian costume including frock coat, top hat, carrying a very authentic-looking Gladstone bag, ringing his 'death bell'. Props abound and, with the use of a small step ladder, the guide is elevated above the crowd and easily heard by all (children being encouraged to the front).
Costing just GBP5.00 for adults and GBP3.00 for 'boils and ghouls' - this is family entertainment at its best! Of course, ghosts may join the tour at any time - for free!!
We stopped by the York tourism office before heading into York and a bright yellow brochure for a free walking tour given by the Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York caught my eye so we hurried over to Exhibition Square near the City Art Gallery to join the 10:15 tour. Over 100 volunteers lead tours through York, we were lucky enough to get a retired teacher who enjoys history who gave us a very thorough explanation of the origins of York from the Romans to the Normans to Medieval times. The walk covered parts of the walls, the ruins of St. Mary Abbey, a walk along a portion of the walls to the area by York Minster, through Monk's Gate, to the Treasurer's House, St. Williams College and finally through the Shambles. It lasted about 2 hours and we enjoyed every minute of it.
This is a definite must for history buffs, if you are looking for the cheesy, yet entertaining, tours of ghosts and scandals and the like, this isn't it, only 1 ghost story the entire tour and even that had an historical slant to it.
Additional tours between April 1-October 30 at 2:15 pm and also at 6:45 pm in June, July and August, no need to prebook.
You know how you see those lovely Tudor style painted black beams, as you will later on in the tour down at the Shambles and other places? Well, the buildings aren't supposed to look like that. In point of fact they're supposed to be covered as they're only there for support, as shown in this particular example. So, this is what buildings of this ilk genuinely looked like.
Asthetically speaking, I'm all for the exposed beams!
And, if you've ever wondered why there are small windows on some of the old buildings, consider this - there used to be a tax on windows! The bigger the window, the bigger the tax. It was from this obnoxious bit of bureaucracy that the term "daylight robbery" evolved.
Now THIS was the business! One of the best forms of entertainment in York! We joined the Tour late, it started at The Shambles, but we managed to catch up eventually and it was well worth the frantic gallop.
The Storyteller was absolutely brilliant! He was dressed in period clothes, a caped black coat, a black top hat and carrying a medical bag, similar to the one purported to have been used by Jack The Ripper. This man had presence. Walking behind him along the old cobbled streets of York, from Ghost House to Ghost House was eerily spooky. You could imagine that you had stepped back in time and were there at the time of the Great Plague. His voice was commanding, his charisma riveting and his sense of humour macabre. There was good audience participation and although the stories were sad, we were giggling like scared schoolchildren.
We had a fun experience where the whole group advanced on a restaurant and waved to the diners and then all went BOO!!!!! try it sometime, but try NOT to get arrested....
WELL WORTH the 4 quid!!!
It was an inauspicious commencement to the tour. We were late, too late I suspected. The advice we had been given as to the amount of time it would take to walk from our accommodation was suspect to begin with and compounded by Rosemarie's slower pace. The 10.00 a.m. guided tour was bound to be departed by 10.15 a.m., and so it turned out. Frantically I tried to question any person in the vicinity of the pick-up point as to which direction the tour had taken but to no avail. Fear that one of the key points of my England trip was about to be missed gripped me.
I was just about to dash over to the Tourist Information Centre when the tour appeared. How lucky was that!
Well, it was twice lucky. It wasn't the free public tour after all but a private one from the Churchill Hotel, an establishment for the moneyed, notably from across the Atlantic. The tour guide's name was Dave Perry and Dave had a passion. That passion was named "York".
Dave had no objection to Rosemarie and I joining the tour and, later, to another couple hitching on as well. Dave just wanted to exalt the wonders of York, in between cigarettes that is. Sadly, this was a habit he hadn't managed to shake.
It didn't detract from his font of information however as he expounded his knowledge and lit up the sites with their history.
The free tour takes two hours. Should you be fortunate enough to get on Dave's tour, you should allow up to four and it's worth every penny, or pound, depending on how much you choose to tip him.
Do you believe in ghosts? Personally, I'm a doubting Thomas. In any case, York is reputed to be the most haunted city in Europe.
This medieval city is justly famous for its ghost walks. These are interesting and informative, as well as entertaining. They illustrate a lot about local history, architecture, and the way that the common folk lived during past ages. Most stories are tragic; a few are real tear-jerkers. Besides, what else is there to do in the evening, other than hang out in the pubs? At least try one ghost walk--you won't regret it.
There are quite a number of them, departing from various sites around the city. Visit the local tourist information centre for more information. The original Ghost Walk, and probably the best known, meets at the King's Arms Pub at the Ouse Bridge, nightly at 8:00 pm. This is known as the "pub that floods", due to its location next to the river.
The distinctive red buses you see around the city are those from York City Sightseeing - one of the two companies that offer a bus service around the city for tourists. Prices are:-
Concession (over 60 or student) £7.00
Family (2 adults and 3 children) £20.00
Special for 1 adult, 1 child £10 (2008 prices)
Closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Last full tour starts at time shown - finishes 1 hour later. April-September: 09.00-17.00 Daily March-October:09.00-16.30 Daily February: 09.30-16.00 Daily November-January: 10.00-15.00 daily
Some buses disabled friendly. Children are handed children's packs of sweets and crayons an there is an audio commentary in 9 languages.
At 19:30 every night whatever the weather and aways on time , a Victorian guide wearing a frock coat, top hat and carrying a Gladstone bag will collect brave visitors at the bottom of the Shambles for a ghost hunt of York.
This is good fun for all the family and lasts about 75 minutes and there is no need to book. The cost is £5 for adults and £4 for children ( as at April 09))
City Sightseeing is, it says, the largest open top tour bus company in the world. I believe them. This is a good way to see a city for the first time. You usually go around in a circle and start to understand what is where and walking distances and directions between things you really want to see. With the ‘hop on – hop off’ tickets you can stay where you want longer and then rejoin here and there. Free headphones give you the audio tour with helpful information as you travel along (multilingual).
I would suggest going in the early afternoon with this company so that you get full use of the 24 hour tickets. What I mean is you may see something t night when you go to dinner and you can see it the next morning. Also you can review what you missed in the evening.
Local details are below. Be careful with your camera. The bus does move and jump when you are trying to take pictures!
This is very good way to the city if you want someone to show you places possibly only known to local people. There are four walks - Snickleways of York, Essential York, Roman York and Secret York. Only Secret York and Snickelways are accesable for wheelchair users.
There are also a number of occasional walks such as the Guy Fakes Trail, Historic Toilet Tour (honestly) and a Choccy and Sweetie tour. The website has full details.
2008 prices are £5.50 for adults and £2.50 children and concessions. Walks start at Museum Garden Gates om Museum Street near Lendel Bridge and walks go with a minimum of 2 people and even in the rain.
I had no idea York had two ghost walks until recently on a trip to York. The walk that claims to be the Original leaves from the Kings Arms Pub on Ouse Bridge at 20.00 each night ( late comers meet at Clifford Tower steps at 20.30) and this walk (in 2008) costs £4.00 for adults and £3.00 concessions. The one difference between this walk and the walk that also features on my pages is that it relies purely on the walk and the stories the guides tell rather than some of the theatricals of the other company who make ghost walks in the city.
The guides are all Blue Badge guides.
Yorkshire Pullman are a well known local tour operator who also have a city sightseeing tour around the city in open top buses. These run every weekend until June 12th from which point they will be running daily until the end of October (2007)
Each tour has a real guide on board and will last approximately 45 minutes. Buses operate on a 20 minute frequency from Exhibition Square and can be used as a hop on - hop off service throughout the day.
In my opinion of the two ghost walks I have been on there is very little to distinguish between the two - both good fun with good guides and here is the latest I have seen.
This tour leaves the Roman Column by the Minster at 19.00 each night (not 24, 25 and 31/12)- no need to book just turn up and the cost is £4.50 adults, students £3.50 and children £2 May 09).
This walking tour lasts 90 minutes and takes in passageways you may not otherwise find , secret sites and medieval stone coffins.
These self drive boats are a perfect way to get a good look at the city on a warm summer day plus it's great fun driving the boat!
* Available for 1 hour hire everyday from late March - late October.
* Red Boats are safe and easy to drive and seat up to 8 people.
* Prices from £20-30 per hour, plus £20 returnable security bond.
* You can board a YorkBoat at Lendal Bridge Landing, which is only 10 minutes walk from the station. The YorkBoat Office and Boatyard are also located at Lendal Bridge.
Did two different evening walking tours. Just depends on what you're looking for. Do you want more of the scary stories or are you looking for some fun stories and different details of the city. Talk to the tour guides, is this the "Family Friendly" tour or the not. I preferred the "family friendly" tour. Still had some ghost stories (everywhere in York does) but it also had a broader scope of stories than the other tour.