Whether you’re venturing out to discover new places, or you’re commuting around the area you have lived in for your whole life, often, travelling by bus can introduce you to some of the hidden gems dotted around that likely would have otherwise gone undiscovered. Today, we’re shining the spotlight on one of York’s bus routes that often connects University campus students living on the outskirts of the city, into central York. We’ll be giving you a guided tour of some of our favourite hidden gems on the number 8 bus route, and giving you the full insight into where to get off and what you’ll find there. 

And what’s better? You can make this road trip a real bargain. Using First bus’ aptly named ‘Taste of Freedom’ ticket, you and 4 others can enjoy unlimited travel across York for the whole day. Check out the First Taste of Freedom ticket here!

So, without further ado, let’s hit the road! 

Bus stop: The Beeswing, Hull Road 

Hull Road Park – Get off at the Beeswing on Hull Road for access to Hull Road Park and Choose2Cafe; two destinations which together go hand in hand – as well as St. Nick’s Nature Reserve. 

Hull Road Park has been part of the Tang Hall community since 1927. As a result of council cutbacks, the park became unloved and neglected in recent years, however, with the help from regular volunteers as well as young people from the Choose2Youth group, the park has now been transformed. In the park’s transformation, the volunteers were able to plant around 1,000 native and ornamental bulbs, transforming neglected flower beds into colourful central displays, as well as reinstating original rockery around the park. The park quickly became once again a much-loved green space in the residential community, and for both tourists and locals alike it makes the perfect stop-off on your way into the city. 

17 Millfield Ave, Layerthorpe, York YO10 3AA

Choose2Cafe – Some of the wonderful people behind the park’s magnificent transformation are members of the non-profit social enterprise, Choose2Cafe, a cafe and training kitchen that works to help young people with disabilities. The organisation provides a wide range of activities and opportunities for young people in York and North Yorkshire, with the aim and ambition to enable and encourage disabled people to reach their full creative potential. The cafe is child and dog-friendly and all proceeds are reinvested back into the company. It’s a win-win! 

Alcuin avenue YO10 3TQ York

St. Nicks Nature Reserve & Environmental Centre – The 24-acre site that now is home to St. Nicks Nature Nature Reserve & Environment Centre was established in 2004. In the Middle Ages, this land was merely open fields used only for grazing by the cattle belonging to monks from the St. Nicholas Hospital. Since then, the land has been a brick works, the city’s rubbish dump and an unofficial wild site. 

Now, the land has been reclaimed, playing host to a wide range of species, developing habitats including meadows and woodland. Alongside a multitude of plant species, St. Nicks is also home to a number of different wildlife species, including birds, butterflies, newts, frogs, rabbits, water voles, and many more. The full 24-acre site is open to the public, and visitors are welcomed to grab a map and enjoy all the nature St. Nicks has to offer!

Rawdon Ave, Layerthorpe, York YO10 3FW

Bus stop: Student Castle, Walmgate 

Re:Cycle – Get off the bus at the Student Castle bus stop on Walmgate to access all the hidden gems that this often overlooked York street has to offer. Walmgate is known for its unassuming, vibrant food and drink scene, boasting a range of cafes and evening eateries as well as a neighbourhood bakery and wine bar, but tucked just further back from the main street of Walmgate, you’ll find Re:Cycle Bike shop. 

Re:Cycle bike shop was shortlisted last year in the competition of Britain’s Best Small Shop; recognised for providing free bikes and free bike repairs to NHS workers during the pandemic. The second-hand bike shop and repair workshop has gone from strength to strength over the years, and the incredibly skilled team can undertake almost any of your bike-needs, from a simple service to a full custom build. They dismantle end-of-life bikes, sell parts at huge discounts and are able to fix almost any bike. Not to mention, they also keep a small selection of new bikes for sale too. Good job the bus is bike-friendly!

3, Enterprise Complex, Walmgate, York YO1 9TT

Bus stop: Piccadilly

Kiosk – Fossgate is home to the much-loved Kiosk: Project Space, a successful combination of café and gallery which aims to support other independents and local artists alongside their own. The gallery runs seamlessly within the café, and decorates the space with ceramics, prints, wall hangings, jewellery, and a whole host of other products made by local artists and craft makers; and the cups and plates used to serve the café coffee and food are also made by a local artist. Food is prepared at the back of the premises in a tiny kitchen where they serve up an impressive array of options including an all-day breakfast and lunch options from a seasonal menu.

41 Fossgate, York YO1 9TF

Merchants Adventurers Hall – Merchant Adventurers Hall truly is one of York’s most unique attractions, located just next door to Kiosk, the hall is now a fascinating museum, scheduled ancient monument and a Grade 1 listed building which also plays host to a cafe. The intricate timber-framed building was constructed by a fraternity made up of York citizens to provide a base for charity, worship and business in the centre of the city. There are three main rooms in the Hall; the Great Hall, the Chapel and the Undercroft.

The cafe as well as the hall are open to the public and the hall is regularly used as a private event space. 

Fossgate, York YO1 9XD