View from York Minster Central Tower

It was a crisp, cold morning but the sun was shining brightly. I was in York, camera in hand, so a trip up to the top of York Minster was in order for some great views.

People may think of Yorkshire for the Dales and valleys but this side of the county is extremely flat as many of you may know. So if you want to get high and get views all around here, and the city of York then the Minster’s Central Tower is the way to go.

The towers of York Minster

A place I have stood many a time in years gone by, in fact only a few years ago I talked here about the wonders of inside York Minster, as well as the wonders of up and around this majestic building. Today was a day to get up on top of the tower afresh and remind myself how perfect a spot it is to get up there and take in the scenes around. I know as much with mountains too, each time can look completely different. Weather, seasons and vibe can bring a whole new outlook.

looking down from halfway up the tower

Once you are in York Minster you have a range of options to extend the learning of the building further. One of those being the walk up to the top of the tower. Be prepared to work a little for it.

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This is an old building, built for purpose in its day of course and never a thought for tourists wanting views 🙂 The stairway is narrow, stone, and round and round and round you spiral up. 230 feet up and with 275 steps.

Around the halfway point you do get a great outdoor respite, amongst the pinnacles and gargoyles halfway up the structure. Not all the views are at the very top see.

across the rooftops

Back inside to get back onto the spiral steps, around and around and up and up, Then, you feel the fresh air, the sunlight hits you and there, wow, York and beyond laid out below in each direction.

Walking through the City as a visitor or shopper you get a sense of the history of the place. Up here you can appreciate the history of ages all in one.

looking down into central York

Looking immediately down you are struck how the rooftops give way to the medieval streets. Above you can see clearly the Manor House on St Helen’s Square. The building really stands out from this view on the tower. Built in 1725 as the Lord Mayor’s official residence in its day. Will be more often seen today as people queue at Betty’s tea room also in the square to the front left. An area I was in not long ago getting some night photos of the place.

The other view over York people know will be from Clifford Tower, the remains of the old great castle. But from the Tower here on the Minster you can really get a perspective of how lower down that is.

Misty cold York

Each direction you look from the top gives views to differing landmarks. To the North for example you get a view over the Nestle factory and on to the hills of the North Yorkshire Moors with the Kilburn white horse clearly visible on a clear day.

Then moving around to the East you have the Foss Island Chimney, affectionately known locally as the Morrisons Chimney locally due to location. This is a standing remnant of what over a century ago would have been the waste burning facility.

a view towards the North Yorkshire moors
Foss island chimney

The famous City Walls can be seen making its way around below too. Snaking amongst more modern buildings great and small. They look grand and huge from ground level but become part of the patchwork view from up here.

york city walls amongst the buildings
busy streets below

For those with a fear of heights, or drops there is no need to worry at all. For safety the top of the tower is completely garden with a metal fencing, but the views are protected, especially for the camera, with gaps to enable a clear view out.

heath and safety on the tower

Alas, it was time to head back down, you do get a good share of time up here though, plenty of time to take it all in. Another look out and around before I go, of course I did.

architecture detail on the minster tower
blue skies above York

Down and down and round and round. Back down the stone spiral stairs. Fully refreshed and invigorated. And with plenty of ideas for future places to write about too! The stop halfway down also provided with a good last view over the rooftops, amongst close ups with the architecture hat gets people neck ache from ground level.

a spire on York Minster
window on york minster close up from outside

A cold day, a sunny day as I said. I am looking forward to getting up here for more inspiration in the future. The differing views of the same history on another day. Wonderful. More information on the Minster Tower trips can be found on the Minster website.

Back down in the hustle and bustle of visitors and shoppers I am ready for new adventures and sights. It shows that for me myself yet again I do not need to travel far at all  to be inspired. There are treasures on our doorsteps.

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2 Comments

  1. Enjoyed this tour of the views immensely but was downcast when you showed the cage at the top. Maybe it’s necessary but I was expecting there to be a great sensation of openness – a view into the great wide world – but instead there’s a sudden feeling of being trapped and very much indoors.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi, I understand what you are saying, but can assure you that the low turrets almost make this a must for safety… plus having been in many a place with openness and with great wide views, when you are there you feel it is done wonderfully without the feeling of enclosure.

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