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GTW Club guru Emma Parkes reports from GTW’s spring 2023 fam trip to York…

What a day! GTW's Tracey Carroll and I arrived in York by train with the sun shining – not a cloud in the sky as we headed to Plonkers Wine Bar & Bistro, just a 15-minute walk from the station and on the riverside. Our group was greeted by Julia Pearce and Chris Pegg from City Cruises York, as well as Steve Wood, the owner of this family-run business. Several breakfast buns and coffees later and we felt very welcome!

Plonkers prides itself on serving high quality, award-winning, home-cooked food, with quality beers, wines and spirits. This unique building can cater for groups of any size, from six to 130 people. Head to the website to find out more at

A new immersive experience followed, with a tour of York Dungeon. Mark Persad from Merlin Entertainments pre-warned us that we were about to scream our way through York's darkest history. I was a little nervous to say the least. Should I be subjecting my group travel organisers to this?!

The notorious characters whisked us back to the bad old days of the Vikings, but injected plenty of humour along the way. One particular GTO made the torture chamber bearable and our eyes cried with laughter instead of fear as he was used as an example (no names mentioned, Tim Steel from Steel Coaches, aka Bertrum!). Plan your visit – if you dare – at

We survived the Dungeon, gathered ourselves, and headed to the riverside to board the award-winning City Cruises York boat. On board, we were greeted by the captain and served delicious fish and chips, hand-delivered by a local supplier. As we slowly cruised the River Ouse the guide told us interesting facts about this historic city.

There are many types of cruises to enjoy, including party nights afloat, private charters and early evening cruises. We had fish and chips, but you could opt for a Yorkshire picnic box, both with option of hot drinks or something stronger from the on board bar.

As the weather was kind to us we enjoyed the fresh air on the top deck. However, you can also relax in the comfort of the enclosed saloon below. This attraction is one of York's number one for sightseeing. See

A gin tasting session at York Gin – another local supplier to the City Cruises boats – was our final port of call. This petite shop is based at the train station, and you can only imagine how many shots we tasted!

The friendly staff gave us a brief tale of the York Gin's story. The first bottles of York Gin London Dry appeared in 2018 after a group of friends (including one of York's best-known pub landlords) decided it was time for the city to have its own tipple. The cat mascot is one of York's famous symbols and groups can follow a cat trail of statues attached to many city centre buildings. The cat is also synonymous with gin – surviving gin bottles from the 19th century have drawings of cats on them. On a tasting tour you can enjoy two G&Ts as well as tasting the full York Gin range (thanks to Hannah Fish who led our tour). You'll also learn about gin's amazing legends, myths and history.

If you have a large group or want to organise a private gin tasting, email And check out the website at

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