A TRIP to York is not complete without a look at the minster.

That grand historic building, visible from miles around, is a marvel to behold, both outside and in.

Walking around York Minster is a pleasure, with its magnificent towers, turrets, buttresses and weird and wonderful gargoyles.

If you’ve brought a packed lunch, Dean’s Park, to the rear of the building is a great place in which to sit and eat your sandwiches. In the shadow of the minster, it is full of picnickers in summer.

There is so much to see in this awe-inspiring building, which in its present form is around 800 years old. Stepping into the nave - from the Latin word ‘navis’ meaning ship, due to its shape - your eyes are drawn skywards towards the elegant sweeping roof with its wooden bosses (decorations placed at roof timber intersections).

The roof of the South Transept was destroyed by fire in 1984. The restored roof has 68 bosses, six designed by children in a Blue Peter competition, which I remember being announced on TV.

Dominating the western end of the nave, the beautiful Great West Window - nicknamed the ‘heart of Yorkshire’ from the shape formed by the stone tracery - may have been installed as an afterthought. It was inserted in the 1330’s as part of a radical rethink of the design of the western facade. Master mason Ivo de Raghton was the talented man behind it.

At the other end of the nave sits the organ. With more than 5,200 pipes, it was replaced after a fire in 1829 and has been rebuilt several times since.

York Minster is full of quirky points of interest, including its clock with soldiers striking the time and an astronomical clock whose front dial shows the locations of the sun and certain navigational stars as would be seen by a pilot flying south above the building.

The magnificent five sisters window in the North Transept is the only memorial in the country to women of the British Empire who lost their lives during the First World War, while the Pilgrimage Window is well-known for its monkey funeral. My daughters used to love looking for this when they were young, and especially liked the sick ape being nursed by a monkey doctor.

My favourite place in the minster is the Chapter House: tucked away in a quiet corner, it is hidden from view by its vestibule, itself one of the most important examples of architecture from before the 1400s.

Octagonal in shape, with a stunning tiled floor, it is still used for its original purpose as a meeting place for both the meetings of the College of Canons and for part of the installation of new canons.

Set into its walls are the 44 stone seats of the college, around which you can find some of York Minster’s finest carvings, many depicting the people of York at that time, with their curly hair, bushy beards hats, crowns and wonderful facial expressions. There are some fine animals and mythical beasts, some squatting on the carved heads. Around 80 per cent are original carvings from the late 13th century.

There’s no better place for sightseeing in York than from the top of the minster’s medieval central tower, the highest point in the city.

It is hard work climbing up the winding tower of 275 steps and 230 feet. You pass the medieval pinnacles and gothic gargoyles before stepping out into the open air to panoramic views of York city centre.

You can see the snaking patterns of medieval lanes interrupted by squares, the suburbs, with their landmark former chocolate factories, and out towards the Yorkshire Dales on one side and the Wolds on another.

I’m not a fan of heights and it is a few years since I went up, but I remember it as an experience to cherish - and a great place for photographs.

For those who prefer to stay on terra firma, the Undercroft contains interactive displays where visitors can learn more about the building’s history.

The space was created as a result of the Great Dig between 1967 and 1972 which was begun to save the minster's Central Tower from collapse, partly due to its original construction as well as crumbling foundations.

The Treasury, alongside, has been used to display significant historic objects.

To go inside the minster there is a charge, with an additional fee for the tower. Cash goes towards maintaining the cathedral, which needs constant care to protect it.

*York Minster, Deangate, York YO1 7HH. For opening times and admission prices visit yorkminster.org