City Cruises – York

1041 Reviews

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Things to do


Date of travel

October, 2021

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Despite having lived near York for many years when I was younger, and having been a relatively regular visitor since, I’d never been on a river trip.

“City Cruises”: organise various trips on the River Ouse including ones that incorporate lunch or afternoon tea. We opted for the 45-minute “York City Cruise”: which departs from either King’s Staith (which we learned on board means landing) or slightly further up at Lendal Bridge, opposite The Star Inn The City where we’d had drinks the day before.

We caught the first sailing of the day at 10.30am: there are four guaranteed trips of the day but between May to October, sailings are often every 30 minutes depending presumably on trade. Our concession tickets cost £20.50 for the two of us.

We set off and had the safety announcement before picking up many more passengers at Lendal Bridge. I was surprised how full it became on what was a relatively chilly October Tuesday, but at least we had three seats between us. Everyone decided to brave the weather by sitting on the open top deck rather than down below. Unfortunately, behind us were three young people, one being a local young man trying to impress his two female visitors with his own commentary, which made it a little difficult to concentrate on that from the captain. It was predictably cheesey but there were some interesting facts about the bridges we went under and the sights we passed. This included the hospitium in the “Museum Gardens”: which, unlike its name implied, was about hospitality rather than a hospital. We passed St Peter’s School, said to compete annually with Rugby school at rugby as they both vie for the title of oldest public-school. The winner of the match can claim the title, but only for a year.

Having turned the boat around just before Clifton Bridge, we were told to look out for
views of York Minster whose full name was the ‘Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York’. We cruised past houses on the riverbank, with grey metal gates which the authorities lock when flooding is imminent. Nearer into town we began passing former warehouses, many of which had been converted into flats and we were regaled with house prices, which for a Londoner sounded remarkably reasonable e.g. a penthouse riverside flat for £500k.

We turned around just after the Blue Bridge where the River Foss meets the River Ouse and where a flood defence system has been put in place – it has been Blue from the outset hence its name. There were three green and three red lights at the entrance denoting whether the barrier was up or down, and therefore whether ships could pass through. The trip was short and not the most exciting I’ve ever done, but it complemented a south river walk we had done the day before, and the north river walk we did later.

There was a bar and toilet on board, but the journey was short, and no one appeared to need either.

Helen Jackson

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