From 19th July 2021 the elevated “wall walk” sections of York’s City Walls have re-opened in either direction. The walls are managed by The City of York Council – and further information is available at = www.york.gov.uk/CityWalls
This FOYW detailed guide and all the following pages were written before any COVID 19 events BUT they do assume a walk and sequence in a clockwise direction.
MUSEUM GARDENS = Part of the City Walls Trail in the Museum Gardens has been closed by the York Museums Trust which manage the gardens. The closed bit is west of the Multangular Tower. There is currently no public access to the inside of the Multangular Tower, to the Anglian Tower, or the gardens behind York Explore (the Library). Details of the closure and alternative routes are at the start of SECTION 13 of this guide to the City Walls Trail.
York’s City Walls are FREE. They are open to walk on from about 8.00am to dusk daily (except in conditions when repairs/maintenance, snow or ice may make them dangerous)
York’s medieval City Walls (or “Bar Walls”), a scheduled ancient monument encircling the historic City of York, comprise 3.4km (2 miles) of surviving masonry. They are the longest town walls in England. They were built mainly in the 13th century of magnesian limestone and, uniquely in England, were set on earthen ramparts.
York’s City Walls offer a splendid elevated walk around the city. The accompanying moats have largely disappeared but the slopes of the ramparts are well known for the display of daffodils in March and April.
Map 1 – The City Walls Trail and access to the wall-walk
An alternative map, produced for times when the walls might be closed, is AVAILABLE HERE. It might help you to see the walls from ground level if you can’t access the elevated sections.
A walk round the walls takes about 2 hours and offers an opportunity to see the main features of the walls. There are four main bars, or fortified gateways, two smaller gateways with more modern stonework and one postern (a very small gateway defended by a tower), frequent intermediate towers, and details like windows, arrow-slits and gun ports, sculptures, and masons’ marks. There are also good views of many important buildings from the walls.
One section of the medieval walls is in the Museum Gardens, where you can see the best surviving stretch of the Roman fortress wall and the Roman Multangular Tower with medieval stonework above it. Also in the Museum Gardens are the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey and the precinct walls around two sides of the Abbey. These walls were built at the same time as the City Walls and are the finest surviving example of Abbey walls in the country.
Walking the trail around the Walls is roughly like walking the edges of a kilometre square. Each side in this square has a grand medieval fortified gateway called a “bar”. The trail is divided by these bars into 4 unequal corners. There is a brief description of these in “Overview”.
This guide starts at Bootham Bar and goes clockwise. You can however start wherever you wish and go in either direction. The trail followed is “on the walls” wherever possible, with street level sections described when necessary. To follow the full York’s City Walls Trail – read on through the following sections and pages.
In the following 19 web pages the Walls Trail guide is divided into sections covering :- Introduction; Overview; 13 x Trail Sections (starting at Bootham Bar, the north-west gate and going clockwise); Appendix (with more on stonework, plants, notices, names, cafes & pubs, etc..); History; Glossary; Credits; Contents.
Each of the 19 Walls Trail web pages has been allocated a unique QR code (QR = Quick Response – a small 2-dimensional square with dots in it). A6 size QR Code Cards can be found at strategic wall-walk access places around the York City Walls Trail. These QR codes can then be scanned and used by “out and about” smartphone and tablet owners to access the information around the walls. The QR codes give links to the web pages relevant to their nearest wall-walk section(s).
Follow the whole trail by linking from section to section OR just dip in and out of any section(s) you are interested in.
Introduction – York’s City Walls Trail
Overview – York’s City Walls Trail
Trail Section 1. Bootham Bar
Trail Section 2. Bootham Bar to Monk Bar
Trail Section 3. Monk Bar
Trail Section 4. Monk Bar to the river Foss
Trail Section 5. Along the River Foss to the Red Tower
Trail Section 6. Red Tower to Walmgate Bar
Trail Section 7. Walmgate Bar
Trail Section 8. Walmgate Bar to Fishergate Postern
Trail Section 9. Fishergate Postern to the river Ouse
Trail Section 10. River Ouse (Baile Hill) to Micklegate Bar
Trail Section 11. Micklegate Bar
Trail Section 12. Micklegate Bar to Barker Tower (the river Ouse)
Trail Section 13. River Ouse to Bootham Bar + Abbey Gardens
Appendix – stonework, plants, notices, names, cafes & pubs, etc..
History & Time Line
Glossary, Maps & Credits
Contents & Links
Each of the 13 Wall Trail sections starts with the “basics” – these are for every reader, including those who want to walk the Walls speedily (taking, perhaps, a little more than an hour to walk the whole trail). “Basics” are followed by “details” – more details about this bit of the trail. Next come “views” – describing things that can be seen from the trail but which are beyond the Walls and ramparts. “Off-trail extras” are mainly less than 100 metres walk from the trail and many of these bring their rewards within 20 metres. Then at the end of each section of the trail come brief “stories”.
For information on short term closures like those for ice the phone number is now 01904 551551, from 8.30 -5.30 Monday to Friday. This takes you to an operator at “Smarter York” who should have had an email informing them of any closures; these should also be posted on the City of York Council twitter and facebook accounts, there are links to these on the main City Walls page.
The wall-walk is usually open from 8.00am and closes at dusk, a time which changes through the year. For details see the CYC web site page at https://www.york.gov.uk/CityWalls
The information here was originally compiled and checked in 2013, and has been continually updated since then. Please tell us if you discover any mistakes or changes.
It is intended to keep improving and updating the guide sections – so suggestions for such changes are welcome. Please email your suggestions to email@example.com
The text is copyright to Simon Mattam and The Friends of York Walls. Web pages design and layout by Alan Fleming for FOYW. No part of the following pages may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author, and by giving him full acknowledgement for the work. No commercial use must be made of this text, images or web pages.
Maps, drawings and images are copyright to their owners as stated in the “Credits” section.
A similar guide, with a detailed index, and many of the pictures as used in these web pages, is in print and sold for about £6. See : “A Walking Guide to York’s City Walls” by Simon Mattam. Eboru Publishing [ISBN 978 0 9929002 0 5]. It was published in 2014 but is updated on its Facebook page [ www.facebook.com/walkyorkwalls ]
The web pages Walls Trail – HOME, INTRODUCTION and OVERVIEW contain some small sections of repeated text. This has been done to aid the clarity when viewing these as individual pages.
LINKS TO TRAIL PAGES :-
THE FOLLOWING PAGES WILL CONTINUE TO BE EDITED AS UPDATES AND CORRECTIONS ARE INCORPORATED
LINKS TO ALL TRAIL PAGES :-
Wall Trail: Overview
The Trail: Section 2. North Corner (Bootham Bar to Monk Bar)
The Trail: Section 4. East Corner, part1 (Monk Bar to the river Foss)
The Trail: Section 5. East Corner, part2 (Along the River Foss to the Red Tower)
The Trail: Section 6. East Corner, part3 (Red Tower to Walmgate Bar)
The Trail: Section 8. South Corner, part1 (Walmgate Bar to Fishergate Postern)
The Trail: Section 9.South Corner, part2 (Fishergate Postern to the river Ouse)
The Trail: Section 10. South Corner, part3 (River Ouse to Micklegate Bar)
The Trail: Section 12. West Corner, part1 (Micklegate Bar to the river Ouse)
The Trail: Section 13. West Corner, part2 (River Ouse to Bootham Bar)
Wall Trail: Appendix (with more on stonework, plants, notices, names, cafes & pubs, etc..)
Walls Trail: Glossary, Maps & Credits
Walls Trail: Contents & Links
A printable list of Walls Trail pages QR Codes & Links
Layout, text and all content is copyright to the Friends of York Walls.
Any comments, errors / corrections, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org
A similar guide to this on-line guide is also in print, and sold for about £6.00
See “A Walking Guide to York’s City Walls” by Simon Mattam. Eboru Publishing – ISBN 978 0 9929002 0 5.
It was published in 2014, but is updated on its Facebook page HERE