A.J. Walker


An Excellent York Jaunt

I’m off work this week so I had to take the opportunity to get out for a few days out, didn’t I? And if you know York, you know how bloody good it is on multiple levels—but particularly with regard to ale places. So it wasn’t a surprise that I picked it for one of my trips out. I last came here for my 50th birthday bash with a few mates. This time it was just me on me tod. I had a train getting me there around midday and I had one night booked in a hotel (well a pub—not a real ale one though). So I had the best part of two days to spend on a good wander around one my favourite (none Liverpool) cities. Huzzah!



It went as well as it should have. I’m not sure how many real ale pubs there are within the wall, but there are lots. So there isn’t that much walking really between one place and another—and therefore not much wasted time either. Without trying, or extending myself at all, I ended up going to ten pubs on each day.

Day One:

First up, as it always is for me if I arrive by train, is The Maltings, which is a top pub just a few minutes walk from the station. There is the York Tap at the station too of course, but that is the same distance from your train on the way home and it only feels right to leave the station when you arrive in town unless you don't want to feel like you've arrived yet. It's not too far—just across the river—to get to the House of the Trembling Madness on Leland. I had only been to the other TM on Stonegate before so this was the first new pub to me on this trip. It was busier than the Maltings being lunchtime on a busy pedestrian street, but I got a nice comfy leather chair on the ground floor to sink into there. Got my phone out and plotted a route that I thought best for the afternoon before checking into my digs and next up was the Wonky Donkey/Three Legged Horse which I have a long term affinity for and is a stones throw (don't do that though) from the Minster. A few people message via Instagram and Twitter asking if I was going to pub X, Y, and Z. I was indeed going to most of them but I hadn't planned to go to one—the Snickleway Inn—so I added that to my list when advised by a buddy from Liverpool. But first up was the original House of the Trembling Madness on Stonegate. I'd forgotten how easy it was to walk past, though I got there eventually. Got talking to a couple of American tourists who were passing through. They'd just come from Liverpool. They loved our home town and it sounds like they'll be back there next year. York is of course even more full of tourists than Liverpool (yes, it really is. Madness—trembling or otherwise).

I made the relatively short walk to the Snickleway and gave Dan's regards to Linda as requested via social media. You say jump and I ask how high, don't I? Nah, not usually. Was a nice pint but I didn't have time to stop for another one (I wouldn't buy two pints in any pubs on this two day trip) as it was time to get on to Blue Bell, which was on the way my digs (which was the Watergate Inn—a non-real ale pub—on Walmgate). The Blue Bell is a cracking old traditional pub which I never miss on a trip to York.

At the hotel I had a wee lie down for 45 mins or so before moving on to my next pub, the Rook & Gaskell which lay straight down the road just beyond the city walls. It was pretty quiet in there with just some regulars in there. I then went a short hop to the Phoenix which lies back within the walls (just). Chatted to a nice couple who were on a trip too who were originally from Cornwall via Derbyshire. We talked a little geology as well as beer. Finally I went to the Red Lion another large old pub regularly visited by yours truly (and very near my digs). As it happened it wasn't my last pub because I wandered up the road for a bit of a look see for something to eat and spotted a pub called the Pavement Vaults (just around the corner from a posh donner place). Had a nice Bristol Beer Factory pint in the Vaults before heading to the donner place then back to my room. A very good day.

The Maltings
House of the Trembling Madness
(on Leland)
Three Legged Mare (
aka the Wonky Donkey)
House of the Trembling Madness
(on Stonegate)
Snickleway Inn
Blue Bell
Rook & Gaskell
Red Lion
Pavement Vaults


Day Two:

My room didn't include breakfast, but that's what I prefer anyway, you want to get out and about rather than eat in your hotel usually (unless it's a full English in a Holiday Inn circa 2000). My weather app said zero percent chance of rain for the time I was up at 9am; so it was raining. I was soon up, showered and checked out (ie gave them the key back) then I was down the road with an eye out for where to eat. There were some nice places but being tourist central they were all tourist central prices. In the end I sat out a greasy spoon under an umbrella and settled for a cheap full English tray. Down and dirty. And I was dry and stomach lined (though the sausages were on the cheap side of cheap). I was back in the centre of town at this point just off
The Shambles and it was still too early for the pubs to be open, so it was just time to wander a bit. My legs were a little tired at this wandering so I sat down for a while just by Whip-Ma-Wop-Ma-Gate (as you do). At this point I was close to the Blue Bell again, but of course I wasn't going to revisit yesterday's venues with so many hostelries available to me within the city walls.

So first up was the Three Tuns. I was the first in, but it wasn't long before plenty of tourists started to wander in there. Again it was a short walk (I'll stop saying that, it should go without saying that it's generally a short walk to everywhere if you plan right) to The Hop, the Ossett pub, which is a deceptively large place opposite the Blue Bell. I read my book a little there before heading up the Thornbridge pub, The Market Cat, which was just beside where I'd had my breakfast. I inevitably had a Jaipur there, which was stronger than most the pints I was having on this trip, but I can't say no to a Jaipur when I see one.

Just a quick zigzag and I was at the Pivni, which—like the Market Cat—was a new one for me. I had a pint of Redwillow 'Feckless' first and then it became the only place I had a second pint (hey, I said I didn't
buy a second pint in any pub, I never said I didn't have a second pint). There were two people in from a company importing a Majorcan lager ('Rosa Blanca - Majorca 1927) which they were checking in on. They kindly offered to buy a round of it for everyone downstairs which we all accepted of course. It was a nice lager to be fair and for the next twenty minutes the five of us in the bar with our free pints felt like we'd all joined a decent club. Cheers. Majorca!

After saying goodbye to Club Majorca, it was literally just across the road next to Valhalla, which is a cool place—all timber decorated with wooden shields. I went for Valhalla Pale. All the Valhalla ales were brewed by the small local Half Moon Brewery. It was a bit a walk next as I headed back over towards where my digs were, because the Brew York Beerhall was over there. It was my one mistake over the two day in planning my route as I didn't think it was open on Tuesdays so I had originally missed it from my list. I went in there and ended up with a session pale (as usual on an extended day) just across from Chris Kamara. I was waiting for the familiar laughing but he was relatively calm whilst I was there. It turned out from Brew York pics on Insta the next day that he was there with the brewery for something yet to be announced. We wait with bated breath.

It was time to head back across town as I'd make my way towards York Station and home so next up were two old pubs I'd been to before, The Golden Fleece and the Ackthorne. The less said about the former the better. A quick one in the small Falcon and then it was across to the station for my last hostelry in York: the York Tap at the station itself.

All in all it had been an excellent couple of days. The only rain (despite a zero chance of it) was for an hour or two on Tuesday morning. Other than that the only liquid I saw was in a pint glass. I went to twenty pubs over two days—some new places (at least to me) and to some old favourites, had some boss beers, served well and by good staff throughout, had a donner kebab, got given a free pint, saw the famous Kamara, chatted to some nice people (both locals and tourists), didn't get lost, and even the trains were all on time. Crackin'

Three Tuns
Market Cat
Brew York Beerhall
Golden Fleece
York Tap


i'll add a map at some point too. Twenty pubs can sound like a lot I know, but then again if you're out for ten hours or so a day then it's only a pint an hour and at that rate you can actually annoy some landlords for drinking too slowly. It's a fine balancing act these session trips, but I'm happy to continue to give it a go.

Watch this space…