This is the second post about my favourite cities and how a city can inspire a writer or become a character in its own right following on my previous post about finishing Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere where the city of London comes alive as a backdrop.
York has long been one of my favourite places in the world. It is a small city of medieval buildings, cobbled, wonky streets and an imposing minster. York was the Viking capital of England and the archaeological history of the city is significant.
You can walk around the city walls, gaining impressive views of the minster, river and buildings. Bars and pubs line the river and impressive bridges cross it. Visiting York is a little like stepping back in time.
There are lots of green spaces filled with ruins, or river views, or grave stones. Yes, like a lot of small medieval cities, York is littered with small green areas where gravestones line walls beside benches and roads. In fact, there is a section of gravestones beside a very busy road in York. This will feature in a future chapter of my Emily May series.
There are a number of ghost tours to choose from in the city, each giving short stories of death and mystery to get your mind working. Other attractions include the Viking centre where you can travel back in time to see York as was. The Shambles, a picturesque wonky market street, is also begging to be used in fiction somehow.
I would recommend the Marriott as a place to stay (we stayed for our honeymoon. Get a balcony room – the bathroom is huge!). This hotel is a former residential house, sorry mansion, with beautiful grounds and an old, crumbling tennis court and views across to the racecourse. Opposite the hotel are big beautiful houses lining the route into the city.
While York is a beautiful and inspiring city in its own right, what really makes it special is Yorkshire as a whole. Just outside the city there are the moors, full of beauty and tragedy and the setting for numerous stories. How about Whitby? The place where Dracula first landed in England and where Effie and Brenda guard the gates to hell (Never the Bride by Paul Magrs) as well as home to the best fish and chips in the country.
Yorkshire is full of small, pretty villages and fields and hills and massive waterfalls shedding rainbows over slick stones as the water bounces over rocks and down into a gorging river past an old abandoned ruin of a building...see how easy it is to carried away by Yorkshire's beauty?
The city of York and the surrounding areas will be featuring heavily in my Emily May series and I’m certain that I will continue to find inspiration inside the city walls and in the glorious countryside for the rest of my life.
To the right is the view from the Marriott hotel of the house grounds and racecourse.
To the left is the name of one of the streets, proof of the character of York which makes it perfect for fiction.
To the right is The Shambles!
To the left and below is the beautiful Whitby. On the left is St Mary's church and graveyard overlooking the town and ocean.
Below you can see St Mary's on the hill to the right.
(I apologise for all of the photos!)
Next blog post: Edinburgh