Today, Teabag and I took a special tour around the fabulous City of York (UK) ever vigilant for fun cat things to do, we saw this cat tour and had to go check it out.
For those of you who don’t know, York is the principle county town of Yorkshire, known by all who live there as “God’s own county.” Because, to be fair… it is beautiful. Over the years the city has been invaded by; Romans, Vikings, Chocolatiers and most recently the Tour de France, all of whom left their mark, making it a very interesting place.
So, as it happens, for two centuries statues of cats have decorated various buildings in York. It is thought that in medieval times these statues were placed on buildings to scare away rats and mice and were thought to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. As the guide leaflet attests “Cats always land on their feet and having nine lives is a piece of luck that we can all relate to.”
It might cross your mind that this is perhaps a bit superstitious, there is another theory, I’m calling it “My Theory” which centres around the view that even back in the 19th Century… York people were daft. One day a local business owner stuck two cats to the outside of his building in part homage to the old cats and part joke, and people noticed and it made them smile and so other cats began appearing. I think this version is a lot more charming and funny, and a testament to how unusual York is as a place, and how warm and playful the people who live there are.
So without any further rambling… the first stop on the York Cat Trail is The Shambles, one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. Interestingly enough, you also check off another of York’s “tourist rites of passage” when you get to the first cat as you walk the full length of “Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate” which is the shortest street in York, in fact the street sign is pretty much the length of the street. The name is derived from the Norse “whitnourwhatnourgate” which basically means “neither here nor there” but in the middle ages the city kept its whipping post and stocks there and obviously the people of York saw the punning potential and never looked back.
On the tour it is well worth; keeping your eyes open for both cats and some of the best historical architecture in York, and keeping a guidebook handy as the trail takes you to some of the most beautiful parts of the city. My favourites were definitely the two rivers, the Ouse which is decidedly mighty and the Foss which is super cute. Also don’t be too afraid to wander off the path, right at the end of the Ouse section you can turn left and go have a look at the Clifford’s Tower or the Castle Museum. If you feel like making a day of it; the cat trail also takes you past the Yorkshire Museum and the Art Gallery… oh yeah and that little church they call The Minster.
Teabag and I had a great time doing the trail. It is not too difficult but it is tricky and it will definitely take a good hour and a half to two hours to complete. I have a feeling that it’s a great game for kids too.
Finally the trail returns you to where you started in the Shambles, where you may purchase your very own York Lucky Cat. (Once again this isn’t sponsored, they were just nice people and I liked them…) If you want to see these cats for yourself or just find yourself passing through York I’d definitely recommend it. Full details can be found either by clicking on any of the York Cats on this page, or by visiting: http://www.yorkluckycats.co.uk.
This is my Lucky Cat… isn’t he funny!