North Yorkshire walks
York's bar walls
Enjoy York's city walls
By Mike Kemp
There’s perhaps no better way to explore York than from the city’s walls. It's one of the city's major tourist attractions but it very nearly didn't survive to the present day.
York's city walls were first built in Roman times and have been added to ever since, though there were moves to have them demolished in the 19th century.
Fortunately, the then local council failed in its attempts. Now they’re enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors a year.
School teacher and author Jim Rubery and I joined the many tourists for a walk around the walls.
Jim has just written a new guide: Historic Walks in North Yorkshire which is published by Cicerone. And the walk along the walls forms one of a collection of 20 walks he’s detailed in his new book.
The walk begins by the River Ouse at the St George’s Field car park and with a short loop to take in Clifford’s Tower joins the walls proper at the Fishergate Postern Tower.
The walls are not complete with the largest break on Foss Islands Road. Though this one was deliberate as William the Conqueror created a big pool of water to deter would-be attackers.
View of York Minster from the walls
The pool later developed into a foul-smelling swamp and there are no misgivings about that feature having disappeared long ago.
For me, the most interesting section of the wall is from where you rejoin it at Foss Bank to Bootham Bar. There are splendid views across red pantile roofs to the majesty of York Minster.
We left the wall at Bootham Bar to cross into the Museum Gardens to see the Roman Multiangular Tower and the remains of St Mary’s Abbey, once the wealthiest Benedictine abbey in the north of England.
We again return to the walls this time after crossing Lendal Bridge and walk on to Skeldergate. But we don’t yet return to our starting point.
A view from the bridge...
Here we walk by the side of the busy River Ouse to the Millenium Bridge and enjoy some of York’s countryside.
Standing on the bridge it can be easy to forget that York’s bustling city centre is only about a mile away.
We finish the walk by ambling up the other side of the Ouse and back to the car park.
The walk is about four-and-a-half miles but it’s likely to be longer than that by the time you finish, as you take any number of detours to visit York’s many historic sites such as the Treasurer’s House, York Minster itself and maybe the National Railway Museum.
last updated: 22/04/2008 at 16:42
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