Duchesses of York

Saturday early evening got off to a bad start. Not only were our feet killing us, we were hungry. Our vegan diet consists of snacks but due to a stressful fortnight, we’d barely eaten anything and lost 4 lbs, so in York, Neen was determined to make us eat a proper meal to fatten us up for photographs 😀 To us, a proper meal is chips. We decided to be brave and try the two vegan places in York. Goji Cafe was closed. El Piano was Mexican themed. Not our style but we were prepared to try their chips. Except they were potato and carrot chips. People think vegans eat beans, lentils, nuts, healthy stuff. Not us. We eat cereals, ice cream and chocolate. Every day. And chips once a week. So we headed for a pub. Their chips weren’t vegan. By vegan chips we mean they have to be cooked in vegetable oil and cooked separately from the meat. We tried another pub. Not vegan. We tried another pub. They’d stopped serving food. We tried another pub. Also stopped serving food. We tried Cafe Rouge, which is apparently haunted. Chips not vegan. We were starving. Our feet were agony. We tried a haunted pub and got ID’d before we’d even walked in. They said their chips were vegan so we slumped at a table, removed all our layers and perused the menu. Then they came back and said actually they weren’t. Weeping, we left. We kept telling Neen to find somewhere for her to eat and we’d eat our snacks. She wouldn’t hear of it. She was determined we would eat together. She suffered for us, this proves what a great friend she is. We crawled our way to Crosskeys and they served vegan chips! We didn’t know whether to cry with relief or hug the barmaid. Instead we downed vodkas and lemonade. We had wandered York for an HOUR trying to find somewhere. Cat’s boots came off in every pub we sat in, even in Nandos, as her heel spurs caused so much pain. Sitting in your socks in a pub is surprisingly relaxing. Even Neen’s boots came off in Crosskeys. Can’t take some people anywhere.

York Ghost Walk Experience

Note Neen’s blonde head and the tall people in front of her.

After we’d eaten, we dragged ourselves out to film a talking piece by York Minster then it was time for the ghost walk with the Ghost Walk Experience. We knew we were in for a good night when we saw our guide, James. Gotta love a man dressed a highwayman with a tri corner hat 😉 We’d spotted him earlier in the day on stilts and wanted to go and speak to him, as we guessed he would be our tour guide but our shyness wouldn’t allow it. So we did what we usually do – hung back staring creepily. We’ve mentioned before what a pain it is being short on these walks when tall people block your view but James had a solution – he carried a step ladder so even us pixies at the back could see him. The group was huge – about 40 or 50 people so being at back when moving from location to location meant you were easily a street length away from the guide, and as we always stop to talk photos, we were always at the back. But the great thing about the walk was we were allowed to film it!

York Ghost Walk ExperienceThe walk was absolutely fantastic. James was a brilliant guide: funny, articulate and a great storyteller. We didn’t even notice how much our feet hurt! That took some doing as before the walk, we’d been considering foot amputation as a serious option for pain relief. We’ve done many ghost walks around the UK and this was by far the most fun. What made it even better was it was interactive. People were picked to act out the roles of the victims, though in a group this big, there were only 3 people willing to actually participate. You guessed it – us and Neen. Though actually we enthusiastically volunteered Neen, almost shoving her into the circle to play the part of the nun who was bricked up alive. But she played her role well, even making herself a hood out of her scarf to make herself appear nun-like. We weren’t fooled. Only earlier today she’d been burned for witchcraft. The guy she picked on to play the part of her lover looked like he’d rather be chewing glass than standing in the circle, which made this part even funnier. If there was an award for reluctance, he’d win it. He didn’t even want to grab her arm to drag her behind the bush that would act as her tomb! Neen can take rough treatment – she’s an ex roller derby girl. She shook the prickly bush and wailed like a banshee. When challenged to hover three feet off the ground, she improvised and leapt on James’s back. Not easy, considering he towered above her. But watching her mount him was hilarious and unexpected.

York Ghost Walk Experience

grave where the shadowy hand is seen escaping from

Lynx was next to get chosen as a dead woman who had her fingers cut off so a priest could steal her rings. Lynx made her hand go floppy like a corpse’s hand. It was corpse-cold too, adding to the reality of the role. James removed Lynx’s fingerless glove, only to find a lace glove underneath. What can we say? Us Goths always have to look stylish. The woman in the story had five rings – Lynx has six on her left hand. It’s like she was meant to play the role. Though the rings in the story were gold. Lynx’s are…pewter at best. We stayed behind after the group had moved on to see if we could spot the shadowy hand slinking from the grave. Nope. Then we nearly missed our group as we couldn’t remember which way they’d gone. Luckily, a group that size is hard to miss. One couple were picked on to play the roles of the Earl of Northumberland and his executioner and even though they didn’t want to be in the circle, they soon got in to it and were brilliant. Think the wife enjoyed his execution a bit too much 😀

For the final acting role, again, there were no volunteers. As two members of Calamityville had been picked, Neen and Lynx volunteered Cat for this one. She was to play the role of Margaret Clitherow, a Catholic girl tortured to death for hiding priests in her house. James took one look at Cat and said “you don’t look like any Catholic girl I’ve ever seen.” Not sure the church approves of piercings and green hair. Cat pleaded her innocence, claiming the priests were not priests at all, but her harem. Nobody was fooled. James asked for a volunteer to be her executioner. Again, silence and embarrassed looks from the group so Lynx put down her camera and stepped forwards. A bit too eagerly. After we gathered our bags, cameras and Cat’s crutches, Lynx seized her arm and frogmarched her along Little Shambles to the market, Neen running along behind with the camera. That’s how you manhandle someone, people! When we got to the market, no-one could remember which twin was supposed to be Margaret. *Note to selves, this may work with real crimes.*

York Ghost Walk Experience

Cat being crushed to death

Cat was put on an empty market stall to be pressed to death by a door. James grabbed her ankle and spun her around (that was fun). Lynx pretended to heave a door and boulders on top of Cat, making a much better show of it than the guy Neen picked on. James said it should be done for real and asked for people’s bags to be placed on top of her. Again, people wouldn’t even volunteer their bags. So we did. Except Cat’s rucksack contained the heavy JVC camcorder and ghost hunting equipment, Lynx’s held a bottle of squash, the Nexus and our Dungeon souvenirs: two chappie choppers, a chappie chopper bottle opener and a heavy book aptly titled The Big Book of Pain. Neen’s bag contained the food bag and a few cans of Red Bull. James asked her if there were bricks inside as it was so heavy. Lynx dumped the bags on Cat, who emitted death moans and did a death pose. We have a lot of practise in death poses. After the bags were removed, Cat sat up to leave. James grabbed her ankle and lifted her leg to his shoulder to stop her. When a hot guy in a tri corner hat puts your ankle to his shoulder, you just lie back and enjoy it 😉 😀 She had to give one last death moan then she was allowed to get off the stall. After this, we reckon the Calamityville team should give up writing (us) and scenic artistry (Neen) and turn to acting instead. Or maybe not…

It was an absolutely fantastic walk and the highlight of our weekend. Our only regret is that we don’t live closer to York, because we would happily go on this walk every Saturday. Hell, we stalk The Dungeons attractions, stalking a ghost walk is perfectly normal.

York Ghost Walk Experience

Calamityville cornering James for a photo


  1. Love ghost walks and love the Dungeons! Must try and do this next time I’m in York (I’ve done the Dungeon). 😉

    • you must! Especially the Ghost Walk Experience with the hotty highwayman 😉

  2. Did you know that York has tons of haunted pubs? Please check this out: http://www.ghostpubs.com/haunted_pub/yorkshire_and_lincolnshire/north_yorkshire/york/detail.html

    • yes, we drank in a few of them 😀 Sadly we didn’t have time to visit them all.

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