We love York and the idea of seeing its ancient alleyways from the seat of a bicycle really appealed, so four nights in the city with rented bikes was planned before Christmas.
As parents who’d not cycled with the kids before, we had a couple of reservations about riding on roads but were comforted by the preparations by our hosts – Scoot Cycling Holidays – who requested all our inside leg measurements, and ages for the kids, beforehand to make sure we were provided with the right sized bikes and helmets.
We arrived at York rail station where we were introduced to our transport for the week and got lots of tips and advice on how best to start. Everything needed for the bikes was provided – helmets, bike locks, and repair kit. Our 2 year old was with me on his attached rear seat. Dad was with our 6 year old whose pedal power was attached to his bike via a tag along extension. The Scoot people kindly suggested we start off on a soft route which avoided traffic along the river for us to get used to cycling with kids on board and soon we were on the road and negotiating traffic which was much less of a concern in practice.
We’d swapped our luggage for the bikes at the station so when we arrived at the apartment it was all there for us. The apartment you get with this holiday is perfect located right in the heart of medieval York. A National Trust property, it is situated above the National Trust shop immediately opposite York Minster. The apartment is fully equipped with three bedrooms and a great view down the historic tangle of streets. Staying within the walled centre of York, was a memorable experience and really helps you get the atmosphere of the place, with loads of characterful cafés, pubs and restaurants within walking or biking distance.
York is an extremely bike friendly city, and there are plenty of dedicated cycle lanes. The cycling is flat, which was good for us! There are also loads of places to lock up your bike and lots of other cyclists on the road. In fact it’s getting around by car that can be the real hassle in York, as we have found out on past trips. Being on a bike really frees you up, and we found we could zip around really speedily.
We got to visit many of the attractions that York has to offer. Clifford’s Tower that ticked the ‘castle’ box, DIG - the archaeological centre for kids, York Chocolate Story and of course, York Minster. We took the chance to go on one of the famous York Ghost Walks which left from the end of the medieval Shambles. This was great fun, with our suitably dramatic guide dressed in Victorian garb stopping at notoriously haunted spots and telling tales with suitably gothic, spooky humour. The York streets are great for wandering around with loads of interesting little shops and plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in.
Another key part of enjoying this holiday takes place outside of the city itself. You are provided with a set of maps and guides to longer, bike friendly excursions that take you to attractions in the surrounding countryside. You can choose from the flat routes off road in the Vale of York, or more challenging days out like taking a train ride followed by the longer cycle back into York via Castle Howard.
We chose to venture out of the city to the Yorkshire Museum of Farming which combines with the Danelaw Centre for Living History. We set out quickly negotiating the city exit routes on the bikes and hitting the disused railway path that took us most of the way. The final part of the trip took us along some minor country roads and within a pleasureable 40 minutes of setting off we were at our destination.
The Yorkshire Museum of Farming was a great hit with the kids, with mini tractors to ride on, a variety of animals from ponies to chickens to pigs to lambs (which the kids got to feed with bottles of milk). The Danelaw Centre houses a recreation Viking village which was actually really fascinating and more extensive than we were expecting. We would recommend phoning ahead to check before you go as sometimes the Viking Village is also be closed to visitors because of school activities. Also bring your lunch as there are only snacks available on site.
At the end of our cycling holiday, the kids were understandably sad to see the bikes go. York is one of our favourite cities, and to experience it using cycle power was a really great treat and one we’d definitely repeat. Scoot provide a brilliant, friendly service, and make everything really easy so you don’t have to worry about logistics like luggage and maps. We all absolutely loved it and this trip with Scoot comes highly recommended.