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.
For more details see the CYC web site page www.york.gov.uk/CityWalls
Dogs are not allowed on the City Walls, except for assistance dogs. Wheelchairs and pushchairs are not practical up on the narrow wall-walk but they are fine in the Museum Gardens where you can see York's best Roman walls. These include the Multangular Tower which is topped with a row of arrow-slits from the time it was made a part of the city walls. Also here are the ruins of St Mary's Abbey; - including England’s best abbey-defending walls.
A detailed guidebook to the Walls is sold at VisitYork - "A Walking Guide to York's City Walls" ISBN 9780992900205 For those who cannot climb up onto the medieval walls [they are not wheelchair accessible] there is a guide map provided free at VisitYork.
For more general information on York's City Walls visit the Friends of York Walls website at - http://www.yorkwalls.org.uk/
A very detailed walking guide to York's City Walls Trail can be found at - Wall Trail – Home Page – FRIENDS OF YORK WALLS CIO
Fishergate Postern Tower, at the end of Piccadilly, is opened by FOYW volunteers on selected dates during the year. See the Friends of York Walls page for more information on opening times, etc..