Enjoy awe-inspiring winter views of one of the world’s great cathedrals.

View of York Minister Cathedral from along the River Ouse

Illustration by Claire Neill

Words by Peter Watts

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York is widely regarded to be one of the UK’s most beautiful cities and the princely River Ouse has a lot to do with that by offering a series of beautiful views that will warm anybody’s winter day. The river flows through the centre of the city and adds considerably to its charming and picturesque atmosphere. You can stand on a bridge and watch the river wander past or walk along the riverbank and see the city unfold around you.

Head deeper into the countryside and the Ouse will take you to beautiful water meadows, ideal for a wintery stroll, but stay close to the warmth of the city and you can seek out the exact spot from which JMW Turner was inspired to paint the Ouse, with a view of the formidable York Minster in the distance. The medieval cathedral is one of the largest in the country and from a distance it can really be appreciated.

Turner’s painting of York and the Ouse was lost for decades and then rediscovered in 2003. It’s the only watercolour England’s greatest landscape artist ever made of York, although he did produce a number of sketches that featured the Ouse, often depicting the old five-arch Ouse Bridge, since demolished. One such sketch takes in many York landmarks, including Clifford’s Tower, the Minster, All Saints, St Mary’s Castlegate and St Martin-cum-Gregory. This truly is a town with a breathtaking cityscape.

Turner appears to have executed the Ouse watercolour from the middle of the river – presumably aboard a boat – and some think it may have been from around where the Millennium Bridge now stands. Head down to the riverside at this bridge to find another way to appreciate the Ouse as it sleepily meanders through the city. To the south of the city you can find the riverside Rowntree Park, which has great facilities and a wonderful large lake with terrific views across the water. Follow the park south and it will offer wonderful views across the Ouse as you head deeper into the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.

Plan your day out along the River Ouse.

Posted on 17/01/2020