Wednesday 8 July 2009

York Minster Tower, York, Yorkshire

Inside York Minster, a sign warns visitors that only the "very fit" with a head for heights should pay four pounds and climb the 275 steps to the top of its monumental central tower. In reality, you can be a reasonably unfit vertigo-sufferer and still make it to the top with the help of the iron hand rail. But don't think about turning around half way - visitors are sent up in 30 minute batches as the stone spiral staircase is tight and there are very few passing places. Half way up, you have to traverse a narrow, but safe, steel walkway between the first spiral staircase and the even tighter second one that takes you to the roof of the tower which is enclosed by a mesh cage. Even so, there are captivating views of the Minster's splendid twin Gothic towers, the tight-knit streets and lanes of the walled city below and the distant green countryside, punctuated by a couple of clusters of cooling towers. Every few yards, there is a magazine-sized gap in the mesh through which you can take photos. Panels tell you what you are looking at and how far it is away, including both notable buildings in York and ripples on the horizon, such as Leeds, the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds. 7/10