Damson's alternative guide to York
Damson Global may have aspirations to be a worldwide force but we are, and always will be, proud of our Yorkshire Roots and in particular the beautiful city of York, where we are based.
Everyone knows that York is an absolute hotbed for tourism, with people flocking from all over the globe to see the York Minster, Clifford's Tower, and The Shambles, which now seems to have been turned into a Harry Potter fans heaven! There are plenty of guides to York online that you can find, but we wanted to let you in on OUR York. The things we would enjoy. We are incredibly proud to be part of such a thriving community, so our list will not involve any chains or anything else that you would necessarily expect to see. We want to celebrate, for the most part, local business, because without them, York would be nowhere as unique as it is.
THINGS TO DO
Art of Protest Gallery
The Art of Protest Gallery was set up in 2017 by Jeff Clark & Craig Humble and is designed to provoke thought and give a place for the type of art you wouldn’t normally find inside of a walled medieval city. You won’t find any watercolour paintings of the Yorkshire Dales here, no sir. Inspired by street art of all forms, the gallery made a HUGE impact before even opening, by commissioning world-renowned calligraphy based street artists Defer & Big Sleeps to create a huge mural on the wall opposite the shop, on the back of the famous Brown’s department store. This isn’t merely bringing LA graffiti art to York, if you look closely at the wall there are significant words relating to the culture of York hidden. You can’t miss it. It’s massive. The eye-popping artwork doesn’t just stop there. Head inside to be greeted warmly by Jeff & Craig, and feast your eyes on some incredible, and varied artwork, ranging from fire artist Steven Spazuk to the intricate work of Magnus Gjoen. The Art of Protest is an absolute must visit for anyone that comes to York. No longer do you need to go down south to witness something a bit different. Join the movement.
Walk the walls
First things first, walking the historic York walls is free, which you know goes down well with anyone from Yorkshire! This is a great way to see the City, if you have the energy for it. Circling what would have been the original city centre, and punctuated by 4 gatehouses, commonly known as “Bars”, the walls were originally built by the Romans around 71AD, and then demolished and rebuilt by the Danes years later. Also, if it would be of interest, walking the walls is a great way to discover some of the cities quirkier pubs and bars. Our tip would be to start at the top of Micklegate bar, and head up the right hand side staircase, and follow round past Walmgate bar, Monk bar, Bootham bar and finally end up year the Train station. You can see the beautiful York Minster from almost anywhere you walk. Just make sure it’s a dry and clear day….
THINGS TO EAT AND DRINK
Situated on the achingly trendy Bishopthorpe Road, Robinson’s Cafe was opened in April 2016, and is an incredibly tasty, not to mention socially conscious alternative to the traditional greasy spoon cafe. They aim to source the very best of local produce, and are the absolute antitheses of a local, independent business. Open 5 days a week, head along for breakfast or lunch. Robinsons don’t take reservations, so on busier days there may be a very slight wait for a table, but trust me, it’s worth it. Once you have visited once, you will want to eat there time, and time, and time again. If you are going to take one recommendation away from reading this, make sure it is to try the Chorizo & Parma Ham Hash. You will not be disappointed at all. Not only is the food incredible, but the cosy atmosphere makes it a truly great place to take a break and watch the world go by.
Walmgate Ale House
The 17th Century listed building has been a few different restaurants or pubs over time, but as of the last few years it has been the Walmgate Ale House and Bistro. A one stop shop for good, hearty, Yorkshire food, and good, tasty, Yorkshire beers and Cider’s. Set over 3 floors, this building used to be home to “Ellerker’s”, a rope and saddle making company. There are still walls adorned with all sorts of hooks, pulleys and ropes, and if the rumours are to be believed, is also home to one or 2 of Yorks famous Ghost’s, but don’t let that put you off. Walmgate itself is a real up and coming street with the bar culture shifting to the Fossgate and Walmgate area of York in recent years. The food menu will change to reflect the season, but one thing that’s for sure is that whatever you order, you will not be left hungry! The Yorkshire pudding filled with pulled beef is a particular favourite of ours. Visit the site now and make sure you get booked in!
Considering the long standing rumour that inside the City Walls there is a pub for each day of the year, York only ever had one brewery. That all changed when Brew York opened. Situated on Walmgate, near enough opposite the previously mentioned Walmgate Ale House, Brew York is a bar and a brew house all in one. An unbelievable selection of beers, lagers and ciders are available, some brewed in house, others, such as the incredibly tasty Helles Lager, are brewed by other local brew houses such as Brass Castle Brewery, make visiting here a real experience. Just don’t drink so much that you can’t remember it…. The building backs out on to the Foss river, the seated, and heated, courtyard area at the back is far and away on of this writers favourite spots in the whole of York. If you have time, take the brewery tours that are available to book. Recently, the Brew York guys have expanded and opened up a Beer Hall with 40 beers available at any time, and Street Food Kitchen run by local York business Street cleaver. Even more reason to visit!
Where to shop
Dog and Bone Vintage
Originally born as a pop up stall at Vintage Fayre’s around the country, Nic Barker moved back to York after a few years away studying down south, and almost immediately set up shop on Gillygate, a popular spot for students as it is located relatively close to the York St John University. Dog & Bone soon grew out of the premises, and a few years later relocated to 28 Castlegate, just by the popular Coppergate Shopping Centre, and began to focus more on just vintage clothing and trinkets by incorporating vintage/quirky home products, vanity products and games. Whatever your personal style, be it elaborate floral design, double denim or 80’s sport’s casual, you will be able to find a little bit of everything in this gem of a store. Head on in to be greeted by Nic and his lovely staff. Explore this treasure cove of a store, and be dazzled by the beautiful neon sign behind the counter! This incredibly well but together store is a fantastic alternative to the high street chains around that area such as Topshop and Primark, and every time you visit you will notice something different. A real find.
Cuffs & Co
Founded in 2003 by Phil Pinder, this was originally a pop up store in Convent Garden, London, but has since moved to the historic Shambles. London’s loss is absolutely York's gain. Fiercely proud of their products being British Made, the store has gone from strength to strength, with some truly uniquely designed products, and a great social media platform. They were also recently recognised as the Small Business of the Year in the York Press, which was richly deserved. Don’t be fooled by the name, they are not just a cufflinks retailer, they also stock a wide variety of socks, ties, watches and much, much more. Even if you never get a chance to physically visit the store, the website gives you a real sense of the personality of the company, something that all successful York businesses have. Keep an eye out on their social media pages for all of the fantastic things they have coming up in 2018.