York – Walking the City Walls

York, where the rivers Ouse and Foss meet.. A place with a grand and large history. Almost two thousand years of history in fact and remnants of this can be seen to this day. Take a look at the name of the City and you can see a passage of time in itself! In 71 AD the Romans founded the place called Eboracum, the Roman capital of what is now North England.

Adding a sense of Roman importance, York was a stay for Roman emperors, including the fact that Constantine The Great (the first Roman Emperor to be converted to christianity) was proclaimed Emperor of the Roman Empire whilst in the City, by his troops.

In the 9th Century the Vikings invaded, took York and called it Jorvik. The Normans shortened that to York and has just about stuck since. Traces of the Roman name remain though, York Racecourse has an Ebor festival for example.

DSC_00021 York – Walking the City Walls

The walls you see today that circle the City are from the 13/14 Century, the most complete medieval example of its kind you will see in England. The Danes had buried the Roman walls under earth and the current walls are on top of that. There was a scare in the 18th century. The City’s administrators wanted to expand and grow with the industrial revolution. Old walls hindered that. Protests prevailed and all is protected as the top historic monument that can be seen today.

DSC_00091 York – Walking the City Walls

If you ever visit York, then a fantastic way to get your first glimpse is to walk the walls themselves. About 2 and a half miles around the modern inner city. I find myself that the tourists are all packed in the narrow streets of the centre and on parts of the wall you can get peace together with great views of the buildings within. And it is completely free.

DSC_0021 York – Walking the City Walls

DSC_0035 York – Walking the City Walls

There are lots of interesting points on the wall trail. Some historic and plenty of quirky. There are four ‘main’ gatehouses or ‘bars’ as they are called. Some have stonework back to the original 11th century. Monk Bar is home to the museum of Richard III, the last King of the House of York and was used as living quarters and small dungeons. The bars in medieval times, together with the walls enabled the extraction of toll payments into the City. Great little hidden cafes now sit inside a couple of towers and gatehouses. Absolutely charming spots to take a break.

DSC_0045 York – Walking the City Walls

DSC_0060 York – Walking the City Walls

DSC_0062 York – Walking the City Walls

Whilst treading the old stonework it can be surreal to look either side. Of course on much of the walls you can see history rising up in the shape of towers and the Minster, plus parts where archeologists have uncovered the Roman remains below. City life has swelled and modernised around too. Supermarkets standing where the moat once ended. Car parks and modern business buildings standing right where arrows once aimed.

DSC_00681 York – Walking the City Walls

DSC_00771 York – Walking the City Walls

At points the walls give way to the crossings of the rivers. The sun seemed to come out at this point today too! Bonus.

DSC_0347 York – Walking the City Walls

DSC_04051 York – Walking the City Walls

DSC_0419 York – Walking the City Walls

DSC_0422 York – Walking the City Walls

Again, I say these 2 or so miles of a walk is a great way to get introduced to the overall history and plan of the ancient city. There is of course plenty to see within the walls, York Minster stands tall from any section, teasing you in for a closer look. That will be where BaldHiker heads in the next post of course.

DSC_0427 York – Walking the City Walls

Written by Paul Steele

Paul is the founder and Editor of the site. An avid hiker and trekker. Travel, adventure and photography are passions that he combines to make his articles here. Likes to see the positive in everything.


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  1. Love York and your post brought back memories. Last time we were there the weather was atrocious so walking the walls was out of the question. However the museum provided shelter and hours of fascinating facts and exhibits.

    • Hi Rosemary, yes indeed there is something for every weather there.. You must get back to do the walls 😀

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful ‘hike’!

    I now have to add another place to wander when I get to this fair country.

    For me, I have to wait a while longer for retirement so I can travel. 😉


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