Sunday 26 August 2012

Walking York city walls

Largely intact Medieval stone walls still encircle much of the historic city of York. At one of the well-preserved four gatehouses, you can climb some steps and join the walk along the ramparts. The best (and most popular with tourists) stretch runs clockwise from Bootham Bar, affording fine views of York's majestic Minster and the serene gardens around the Deanery, Grays Court Hotel and the Treasurers House on one side and the elegant old buildings of York St. John University on the other. You'll probably encounter a few pedestrian jams, but there are towers where you can stop and soak up the history.  The next stretch, beyond Monk Bar, is more peaceful and less scenic.  After a gap, protected by the River Foss, the walls start-up again in the gritty backwater around Walmgate. The final stretch, which starts on the other side of the River Ouse, is more rewarding. Punctuated by the imposing Mickelgate, this section of the walls overlooks steep grassy banks running down to handsome Victorian terraces. As you pass the railway station, you'll get more picturesque views of the Ouse river and the Minster, as you make your way back to Bootham Bar. Although the higher ramparts are mostly guarded by railings, kids should be watched in places. If you need a break during the two mile plus circuit, some of the atmospheric gatehouses have shops and mini museums. These city walls are a bit special.  9/10