Whether you’re wanting to jog around a park, or potter in a garden, one of these green spaces in York will be perfect for you and the people you care for.
Getting outside into the fresh air has clear health benefits for us all. It lifts our mood, improves our circulation, raises our energy levels and even helps us sleep better. When a client or relative has reduced mobility they may need help to access these benefits. We are fortunate in York to have accessible outdoor spaces to meet everyone’s needs. Fresh air, well-kept lawns, shady trees and even rare flowers and plants can be found in York’s many parks and gardens. Let’s get out there!
Rowntree is probably the best-known park in York. Its ten hectares of lawns, gardens, play facilities and water features are managed by York City Council. There are formal planting areas accessible by wide, level pathways, but if you want a more challenging walk you can follow narrow, sloping pathways along the course of the River Ouse, over the Millennium Bridge and beyond.
You could visit Rowntree’s park time and again and still not do the same route twice, there’s so much to explore! And when you’ve had all the exercise you want, you can visit the Reading Cafe Run by York Explore, the York library service. The residential streets around Rowntree Park are mostly permit-only parking. Park in the York City Council car park on Terry Avenue, or arrive by public transport.
Behind York Minster is a delightful park offering magnificent views of the Minster building, a level expanse of grassy lawn, shady trees and a break from the noise and bustle of York’s streets. Ball games, music and drinking of alcohol are prohibited giving the park a restful atmosphere.
The park was once the garden of the Archbishop of York’s palace, before the Archbishop’s residence was moved to Bishopthope in the thirteenth century. It is managed by the Dean and Chapter of York Minster. Throughout history the garden has variously been used as a tennis court, a riding school and even one of the first hot air balloon launches. It still hosts activities and events from time to time, particularly in the Summer. Bring a picnic and sit on one of the many park benches, or buy an ice cream from the van usually parked close by in the busy season.
Horticulture, architecture, history – York Museum Gardens has it all. Located just outside the centre of the city, it is popular with tourists and locals alike. Go on a Royal birthday and you may see a military parade and twenty one gun salute; York Museum Gardens is one of only twelve ‘saluting stations’ in the country. It’s such a vibrant place that you can forget that it’s actually a botanical garden with a renowned collection of rare plants and trees. The agricultural college at Askham Bryan manages the planting and the gardens have won several gold Britain in Bloom awards.
Despite being such a well known local destination, there are still hidden places to explore. In the north west corner of the gardens, behind York Art Gallery is the Edible Wood, planted in 2015, showcasing attractive plants that have an edible element. Paths around Museum Gardens are gently sloping and there are plenty of places to sit and rest.
On Peasholme Green between York Trinity Church and Arras restaurant, St Anthony’s Garden is a hidden gem. Many longstanding York residents are unaware of its existence. It’s well off the tourist track and therefore quieter than most green spaces in York.
In the 19th Century the garden formed the grounds of the Blue Coat School. When the school closed in 1947 the grounds fell derelict, but were revived by the York Conservation Trust who decided to landscape the area and create a public garden, accessible to all. In 2015, students from Bishop Burton College developed part of the space as a sensory garden, including textured grasses, scented leaves and contrasting colours. It really is a delightful place for sitting and reading or quiet contemplation. It’s one of the few places in York where you might find yourself alone for a while.
In Clifton, a mile and a half outside York city centre, Homestead Park is a beautifully maintained garden with lawns, formal and informal planting and a large wildlife pond. The garden was originally an area of fields behind the home of Joseph Rowntree, philanthropist and founder of the famous York chocolate factory. In 1904, when he and his family moved into Homestead House, he declared that the fields should be offered as a recreational space for York schoolchildren. The area was developed into a park and garden, and his former home is now the headquarters of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Homestead Park is a delight for walkers, pram-pushers and wheelchair users alike because the paths are wide, straight and level. A pop up café is open during the Spring and Summer and toilet facilities are available. It is a regular haunt of local families as it provides a lovely safe space for children to play and adults to relax. As a care professional it would be my go-to spot for an outing with an older client as it provides easy walking and is rarely crowded. Park conveniently in the car park at the Shipton Road entrance and wander at will among the lovely lawns and borders.
The benefits of a walk in a garden or park cannot be underestimated, and helping clients to access these beautiful spaces is one of the great joys of being a care professional. York has parks and gardens to suit just about everyone.