York has been a city defended by walls since the Roman days. That said, they were built mainly in the 13th century of magnesian limestone and, uniquely in England, were set on earthen ramparts.York has more miles of intact walls than any other city in England.
There are some sections of the walls that you are able to walk along – and this walks takes you along them. The walls are open from 8am until dusk. If there is snow or ice or if maintenance is needed then sections may be closed for safety reasons.
We’re starting our walk at York Train Station. If you are driving into York it is recommended to use the Park and Ride (the bus will drop you off at the train station). We’re going to walk anti-clockwise around the walls – as this is a circular walk you can go whichever direction you wish! We start on the west section of the walls and head south.
Here we come to the first of the four main bars (fortified gateways) that are on the wall. This first one is called Micklegate Bar. This was the traditional gate for monarchs to use when visiting the city. As we come to the River Ouse and then the River Foss, we need to come down from the wall to cross over the rivers and head on towards the next segment of wall on the east side of the city. Here we come to Walmgate Bar – with its Barbican (a fortified outpost).
This is the only surviving gate on any city wall in England with a Barbican. Meeting the River Foss once more we’re back walking at street level for a short time. Once we get back up on the wall we come to the third bar – Monk Bar. This is the tallest and most elaborate of the bars on the walls and was intended as a self contained fort. The portcullis here is still in full working order! On this section of the walk we are afforded views out towards York Minster. We soon come to the fourth bar – Bootham Bar.
Much of this was built in the 14th and 19th centuries – although there is still some stonework that dates back to the 11th century. Before following our walk back down towards the train station you may wish to take some time to visit the Yorkshire Museum or take a detour into the city centre to visit York Minster or stroll through the Shambles, a narrow mediaeval street with preserved buildings that make you feel like you’re walking through the world of Harry Potter! Whenever you’re ready, we head back towards the train station and back to where we began.
Nearest Train (or tube) Station(s):