While staying in Manchester recently, my friends and I took the opportunity to do a day trip to two cities: York and Leeds. Granted, we spent the majority of the day in York and just kind of pit-stopped in Leeds on the way back to Manchester, but still including Leeds here and you’ll see why later!
We hopped a train from Manchester to York, which took about an hour and a half. I tend to sleep very well on trains, so it was a pretty quick journey for me! We were surrounded by people who were headed to the horse racing track. They were all decked out in fancy clothes and hats – a familiar sight for me, actually, because there’s a race track only about a 40 minute drive from where I live, and people sport similar getups for opening weekend here!
Once we got to York, we meandered through the crowds of people headed to the races, and eventually broke away as we headed into the old town. On our way there, we made a quick pit stop at the York Minster. We didn’t go inside, but our friend Sophie who was our tour guide (she’s a Yorkshire native) wanted to make sure we at least saw it from outside. Right nearby, she also showed us where Guy Fawkes was born! That was exciting for me, as I’m a big fan of both the graphic novel V for Vendetta as well as the film (let’s just pretend Natalie Portman’s English accent wasn’t atrocious in that movie, okay?)
After that, we made it to the Shambles which was very cool! There were dozens of stalls where people sold hand-made goods, including a very lovely woman who had a ton of baked goods. Please “ooh and ahh” and the following pictures of her stall!
We got two cookie dough brownies and one red velvet brownie that had an oreo in it. So good!! And the price was great as well.
After the shambles, Sophie showed us the street that inspired JK Rowling to create Diagon Alley – as a Harry Potter nerd, I was very impressed, and could absolutely see the resemblance.
We even got to go to a Harry Potter store called “The Shop That Must Not Be Named”. We stood in line waiting to get in for probably about 25 minutes. We each bought a couple of little things after perusing all the items there. It was definitely cool to see, especially since there was even a Nimbus 2000 in the window of the shop!!
After shopping around in that area, we decided we needed a good, old-fashioned pub meal. We ended up at a place called the Masons Arms, and managed to place our orders right before a group of locals stopped in for a couple of pints. I got the fish and chips with a cider, which is always a go-to meal for me at a pub.
After that, we made our way towards Clifford’s Tower. We had planned on visiting the York Caslte museum but decided we probably wouldn’t have quite enough time before our train to Leeds. So we climbed the stairs of the tower, saw a view of York from the top of the big hill, then made our way back down and headed towards the train station.
In Leeds, we really only had one agenda: visit one of Sophie’s favorite bars. By the time we got to Leeds, we were all pretty tired, so we walked straight to the bar with no real stops. The bar is called the Dry Dock, which is very fitting, since it’s a boat on land. Pretty much everything about this place was cute, and they had some great drinks on their menus! We each got some of their specialty Tin Can drinks, which were super cute and extremely tasty! I got the “Bohemian Raspberry”. We shared a snack and hung out for a bit before walking back to the train station to catch our train back to home base: Manchester.
I really enjoyed my time visiting northern England! Prior to this, I’d only been to London and Salisbury (Stonehenge). I’d definitely recommend a trip like this if you’re visiting Manchester and want to see a couple of other nearby cities. I know both York and Leeds have more to offer than what we had time for, so maybe one day I’ll be back for another visit! =)
The Masons Arms in York [ http://www.masonsarmsyork.co.uk/ ]
Clifford’s Tower in York [ http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/cliffords-tower-york/ ]
The Dry Dock in Leeds [ https://www.social-squirrel.com/thedrydockleeds ]
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