York City Walls

Date: Monday 1 April 2024

Thank you to one of my readers, Jim – who recommended daffodil lovers take a walk around the walls of the City of York. Jim says, ‘There are daffodils on the outer grassy banks of the walls that bloom in March and sometimes through early April. It is a good walk around the walls too.’ Here’s some text and a link for the Visit York website, where you’ll find lots of information.

York’s city centre is surrounded by historic walls, which are free to access on foot throughout the year. No visit to York would be complete without a walk around the City Walls. At 3.4 kilometres long, the beautifully preserved walls are the longest medieval town walls in England. The Friends of York Walls provide an online guide to York’s City Walls Trail which covers the location of the walls, access points and many maps and pictures.

York’s old City Walls are the most complete in England. They were built mainly in the 13th century on top of older earth banks. There are a few bits of dry moat left around the banks. The slopes are well known for their daffodils in March and April. At other times they are grassy or covered with wild flowers.

A walk all round the walls [going up on the wall-walk, or just using the pavement outside them] takes about 2 hours. It will take longer if you pause much to look at things like the four main ‘bars’ (these are fortified gateways), the 2 lesser ‘bars’, the postern (this is a small gateway defended by a tower), the many other towers and details like arrow slits, musket loops, sculptures and masons’ marks. There are also good views of many interesting buildings from up on the walls.

York’s City Walls are managed and maintained by the City of York Council (CYC). The wall-walk is usually open from 8.00am and closes at dusk, a time which obviously changes through the year. In cold weather the walls are inspected at 7.00am. CYC will open the walls if it’s safe to do so. The walls are closed in icy or slippery conditions and in strong winds. Whilst weather may improve throughout the day, during winter months the sun doesn’t get high enough in the day to melt ice at all locations, meaning that the City Walls walkway will remain unsafe, so will stay closed all day. Take care when walking on the walls, particularly on sections where there are no railings on one side. Young children should be supervised at all times. There’s also more information, here.

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