The Historic York Walls
York city centre is surrounded by walls steeped in history. They are free to access all year round and no visit to York would be complete without a walk around them! They total 3.4 kilometres, and are the longest medieval town walls in England.
They walls 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. In spring, the slopes are adorned with daffodils. At other times they are grassy or covered with wild flowers.
A walk all round the walls takes about 2 hours. It will take longer if you stop to take in the four main ‘bars’ (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.
York’s City Walls are managed and maintained by the City of York Council. The walls are open usually from 8am and close at dusk. In cold weather the walls are inspected at 7.00am; a second inspection may then be carried out at 11.00am and will only open if it is safe. The walls are closed on Christmas Day. Do take care when walking on the walls, particularly on sections where there are no railings on one side. Young children should be supervised whilst on the walls!
Only assistance dogs are allowed on the walls. It’s not practical to take wheelchairs and pushchairs 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.