City Walls - General, York
York is one of few English cities where you will find an almost complete city wall (Chester is another one). Started in Roman times it has been added onto during history and is today quite impressive. You can walk along most of it and in spring its banks are full of daffodils. Its gates are called bars and Bootham Bar comes complete with medieval mechanisms whilst Walmgate Bar also looks nice. Micklegate Bar (see picture further on) is where executed people's heads were displayed in medieval times as this was the main entrance from London. Today it houses a small history museum, while in Monkgate Bar, you will find an excellent Richard III museum. The first picture is from behind the Minster, close to Bootham Bar. Since viking times, Yorkshire has had many street names ending in 'gate' as in Scandinavia. The saying in town for all this is now that 'In York, streets are gates, gates are bars and bars are pubs!'. The second and third pictures is from the stretch near the railway station which is less lush but therefore gives good views back towards the Minster. The third one is a particularly popular view on York postcards.
The first part of the old city walls were originally built during the Roman times. They were then added to and reconstructed over the years. They are the amongst the longest and best preserved walls in Britain and have been documented as an ancient monument.
Walking the walls is one of the must-dos in York. The walls don't completely circumnavigate the city, but they come close, and they certainly allow you to get a sense of the medieval proportions of what was one of the largest cities in northern Europe at the time of their construction.
The most popular stretches of the wall are near the railway station (on the west side of the Ouse) and close to the Minster (on the east side.)
I was a little surprised how green it was on both sides of the wall. There's a lot of foiliage inside the city walls, even today. There must have been wide fields inside the walls during the middle ages.
York's well preserved city walls are one of the top attractions in the city. Over two miles of the walls still remains, and you can walk along the top of the walls and get a great views of the city (or peek in to the locals gardens if you're the curious type). The most interesting section of the walls is from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar, a route which takes you around the Minster.
If you have a nice sunny day (or at least one without rain), I'd highly recommend at least walking part of the city walls. I missed a section when I jumped off to visit Clifford's Tower but I probably walked about 3/4 of the walls.
Print out a copy of the guide on the attached website (click on download as a PDF), it was very handy to have while walking around as it explains various sites along the walls, the history of the walls and most importantly how to get from section to section.
As suggested in the guide I started near the Museum gardens which is very close to the train station if you are coming in from London.
There's bits and pieces of history all over York, be it Roman, Viking, Mediaeval, whatever; but the one you tend to see bits of all over the place are the walls.
In these enlightened times it is astonishing to know that in 1830 the then council wanted to knock them down for developements sake. Has a familiar 21st century ring to it. Fortunately, even in days of yore, there were those who appreciated their value and, as part of the significant protest against them, a wagon was wedged in the Barbican. They got the message - the walls are there to stay.
You just have to walk along the Roman Walls. I walked from Bootham Gate to Monk Bar. Should have done more but...sore feet! These walls were fascinating and I found myself running my hands over the lovely stonework just to feel their texture. There are some seating areas along the way and places to get some good views and photos.
The Richard 111's Museum is situated at Monk Bar. One of the medieval gateshouses. It was a fascinating place but I didn't get a pic as there were too many people there. The steps leading down onto the street were an adventure in themselves.
The walls in places take you past the back gardens of some beautiful homes. As it was a sunny day these gardens were a pleasure to view and photograph. This one had a cute little Westie posing nicely for us.
One of the most enjoyable ways to experience York is to walk its walls. I won't pretend to be able to understand the entire complexity of these walls. Like nearly everything else in York the history of the walls starts with Romans and seems to go on forever.
There are at least four major gates all with their own story but the best approach seems to be to just start walking with guide book in hand. Even at the busiest tourist time when I visited, the walls seemed to offer a respite.
York has more miles of intact city walls than anywhere else in England (approximately 2 1/2 miles) and some sections of the walls date back to Roman times.
When the Romans first came here in the first century AD, they built a military fort on the banks of the River Ouse. The town of Eboracum grew up around the fort, and strong walls were built to enclose both the fort and town. These walls form the basis of the city walls that remain today.
Much of the city within the walls has been converted to pedestrian malls, closed to traffic most of the day. If you choose to walk the walls of York you'll be sure to meet the locals; a recent survey revealed that walking along the city walls is the favorite leisure activity of fully 39% of York residents. I wouldn't walk it in the dark however. It was dusk when we were still on the wall and with very few handrails it's rather percarious.
Guided walks begin at the Museum Garden gates off Museum Street. Walks focus on the history of York, with Roman, Viking, and Medieval themed walks, plus guided walks along the city walls.
The city center of York is surrounded by a castle wall. As you walk along the castle wall, you will be able to see the main sights and off the beaten path sights of York City.
I was lost and couldn't find our coach parking place with some of my friends. Since we remembered that the coach parking is near a part of the castle wall, we ran and toured the whole of York in an hour! I realised how much we can see by going around the castle wall. At some part of the walk, the castle wall seems to be disconnected.
The city walls acted as a defence for the city in the past. York has some of Europe's finest surviving medieviel fortifications. The walls can be walked throughtout the hours of daylight. Its fun walking on it, but not so if you slip and fall on ur arse, or even worst... off the walls!
Surrounding the city of York the partial remains of the protective wall still exists. From Roman times to (practically) the present, you will see how the wall progressed in construction.
Once considered an eyesore attempts were made to tear down the walls; however they were saved and in recent years there are more efforts to restore them.
Although the walls do not completely enclose the city centre, most of the walk can be achieved on the walls themselves. You can get a different view of the city by taking on this walk which is about 2-3 miles.