I love walled towns and cities; ancient walls define a place so well. Inside a walled town, things are generally more historic, well preserved, expensive, touristy, and interesting. York is no exception to this general rule. In the height of summer, York’s main historic streets, especially around the Shambles area, can be jam packed. While this part of York is pedestrianised, making walking a breeze, the crowded narrow streets can be overwhelming, especially on the weekends and any day between 10 am and 5 pm when bus loads of tourists arrive for the day. The best time to see old York is outside these peak hours or in months other than July and August.
Walking the walls is a great way to escape the busy pedestrian traffic, offering an excellent view of the city below. The walls can be divided into three sections, each with a Bar or gate. You can ascend the walls at these Bars and if thirst should intrude upon your exercise, simply descend at the next gate for a refreshing ale. Some walls look down directly into inviting beer gardens or onto old pubs, making this option highly probable. Other wall walks offer views into the backyards of fine homes and hotels, especially around the Minster. A good way to approach this walk is to you choose one section at a time, followed by an on ground exploration. Layerthorp Bridge to Monk Bar and on to Bootham Bar is the best section. The Micklegate bar section looks out onto an interesting industrial view along the railway side, then ends at the delightful York Museum Gardens, a 10 hectare park situated in the grounds of St Mary’s Abbey and the remains of a Roman tower.
Another acquired map, though the distances can be deceptive. Courtesy of Friends of York Walls CIO, an invaluable website to study before the walk.