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      November 2010 > Walking the city walls

Walking the city walls

York MinsterWe’re very lucky here at Inntravel, working and living near one of the UK’s most beautiful and historic cities, York. Walking into town through the imposing towers of Micklegate Bar never ceases to give me a thrill and I just love the fact that the city centre is still surrounded by medieval battlemented walls, the most complete example of city walls in England (bottom image).

One of the best ways of getting your bearings and seeing the major sights is to walk around the walls - it’s about 3 miles - and this I did last Saturday, starting to the south at Micklegate Bar, where traitors’ heads were once set on spikes. (At the outset, I should point out that in Scandinavian, a ‘gate’ is a street and a ‘bar’ is a gate. Confused? York was, after all, a thriving Viking trading centre for many centuries.)

River Ouse, YorkIt was a glorious autumnal day as I set off in an anti-clockwise direction, soon passing the site of the city’s original motte and bailey castle, before crossing the Rivers Ouse (right) and Foss, with views over to Clifford’s Tower (the keep of York Castle) and the Castle Museum, formerly the courts where Dick Turpin was tried. Turning north, I reached the eastern gate, Walmgate Bar, which has 12th-century origins and is the only town gate in England that still has a barbican and working portcullis in situ. After Walmgate, the walls disappear - in fact, they were never built here as the very marshy environs of the River Foss were deemed defence enough - but it was only a short stroll beside the river before I was back on the walls.

Roman tower, YorkThe next gate, or bar, is Monk Bar, the northern entrance into the city, which contains a small museum to Richard III. Along the next section, I turned south around the Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe (top). It’s well worth a visit, too, climbing up the tower for far-reaching views over the city and Vale of York. At Bootham Bar, ‘gateway to the west’, you have to descend the walls to cross the river, passing the Museum Gardens on the right, which contains a tower and section of wall from the original Roman fort (left). Once over the river, guarded by Lendal Tower, the walls continue back to Micklegate - concluding a fascinating circuit of one of Europe’s most historic cities. And thence to a hostelry, for a tasty pint of excellent York brewed beer…

Autumn is truly a wonderful time of year to explore a city, when the trees are burning gold and red, the towers of historic buildings soar into a deep blue sky, people stroll quietly beside pretty waterways, and atmospheric bars/pubs and cosy cafĂ©s hidden away down narrow, cobbled streets offer a friendly welcome and a tasty, warming morsel or two.  Where is your favourite city?


Posted: 09/11/2010 10:05:00 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: heritage, photography, UK

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