York is a city in the north of England at the heart of the
Yorkshire counties and is a unitary authority in it's own right.
Most people around the world have heard of New York but fail
to connect with the fact that New York was named after the City of York
in England. The Harper family moved to York in 1959 after
returning from a two year posting to Singapore. I have lived
in the York area since that time except for work interludes that took
me away to Leicester and Switzerland. When you hear tourists
wondering if the locals appreciate their nice city my response is "yes,
York is so nice, that I live here". There is a lot to see and do in
York and something to suit just about all tastes.
Over these pages I will take you on a virtual walking tour of
my city and hopefully take you into some off the beaten track areas.
Car parking in York is a nightmare and very expensive. By far
the best approach is to come either by bus, train, bicycle or if you
must come by car use the Par and Ride car parks that are dotted around
the ring road. The Park and Ride car parks can be found at
Askham Bar, Rawcliffe Bar Grimsto n Bar, Monk's Cross and the
Designer Outlet. For more information visit the
stop you should be able to see The Banana Warehouse facing
Merchantgate. If you like browsing around second
furniture and bric a brac this is a place you could easily spend half
an hour exploring. Opposite the Banana Warehouse is an old
derelict looking building that at one time was Neville Shute's
aeronautical factory. Last used as a laser shoot em up
entertainment venue. Walk in that general direction
but turn left into Merchantgate. On your right will be the Red Lion Inn
a pub full of historic character.
Diagonally opposite the Red Lion is a
building of mixed ages, part old ,
some new that used to be FR Stubbs Ironmongers but is now a Loch Fyne
At this point the majority of tourists
will be clutching their maps and trying to work out where the Minster
is! Remember, we are going off the beaten track here so we will turn
backs on the Minster and turn to our right into Walmgate. For
those of you who can't wait to see the Minster look up Fossgat and you
will see the Minster framed by the buildings of Fossgate.
You might need to go as far as the hump of the bridge over
the River Foss to get a good view.
Those of you that find pubs inviting,
the entrance door of the Red Lion beckons. There will
good pubs along the route. Just a few steps down Walmgate and
the Five Lions pub. Five lions appear on the coat of arms
There are many interesting buildings as
you proceed along Walmgate some old and some not so old.
There are many courtyards some small and some are large. They
are usually entered via a passageway like the one in the photograph to
The Spreadeagle public house is a fine
example of an old building that had fallen into a severe state of
disrepair that has been restored to make it the best real ale pub in
the street. The photograph to the right shows the old shops next to the
Spreadeagle with new infill building. On the opposite side of the road
are new shops and flats.
Here we have another illustration of
the old sitting cheek by jowl with the modern. In the left
hand photo there is an alternation of old and new all the way down to
the Spreadeagle pub. The right hand photograph shows the
Elizabethan Bowes Morrel House standing next to the parade of modern
shops and flats.
the end of Walmgate we come to the mainly 14th century Walmgate bar the
only gate surviving with an intact Barbican. Some parts of
structure date back as far as the 12th century. It has been
damaged and repaired many times over the centuries having suffered
riots against tax increases, bombardment during the civil war and
in more recent times was being damaged by heavy goods
getting lodged and stuck in the gateway you can see under the
Elizabethan house on pillars. Traffic no longer passes
this gateway and two way traffic now passes through the arch to the
left, controlled by traffic lights. Take the steps on the
to the city walls to walk round to the Red Tower and Foss Islands.
Barbicans are fortified outpost gateways usually standing proud of the
walls. The name is derived from the latin barbecana.
As you walk along the walls you will see the back of a Church in
Navigation that is used as the Early Music Centre. From here
it is only a short walk to the Red tower and a break in the walls. At
this point the city defences were provided by the marshy ground as the
River Foss meandered its way to the River Ouse.
From Red Tower make your way to the
footpath that runs alongside Foss Islands Road. On the
opposite side of the road is Kwik Fit. Turn to your left and follow the
footpath and cross Navigation Road taking you past Travis Perkins
builders yard and the Majestic Wine Store.
As you pass the Majestic Wine Store the
path runs alongside the River Foss and you will see a large building to
your left known as Rowntree Wharf. This is a former flour
mill which was bought by Rowntree and used as a warehouse for storing
ingredients like Cocoa Butter and Sugar. It was planned at
one time to make the building into a museum of Chocolate and
Confectionery manufacture but the plans never came to fruition and the
building was converted into apartments. Looking up-river you
can see the old County Hospital on the skyline also converted into
Before the old City Hospital you will
see a blue bridge
crossing the river this provided access from the power generating
station that used to stand where Halfords and Staples now stand to the
cooling tower that stood in the marshy land at the side of the river
Foss. Continue walking beside the River Foss until you come
to the multiple junction and the road bridge over the river.
At the junction known as Foss Islands
Bridge with multiple traffic lights turn left over the bridge with the
DEFRA building on your left and The office block of Solicitors on the
other side of the road and turn into Peasholme Green.
after the Solicitors offices on the right is the church of St
Cuthbert dating from 687 has links with General Wolfe. The
is now the administrative centre for St. Michael le Belfrey church next
to the Minster. A little further along is the Black Swan pub
building dating back to Tudor times which later became an Inn. It is
thought that General Wolfe may have been conceived here as his parents
lived here during that time. .
the ugly 1960s Stonebow building history is impotant to York and before
building takes place within the walls there is usually some archaeology
takes place. The photograph on the left shows the Hungate area which
has been demolished for rebuilding and the white square within the
fences is where a dig is currently being carried out (jun
all buildings in the area have been removed as the owner of the York
Bed Factory has stubbornly held out and the local council are looking
towards a compulsory purchase order.
Most of the city centre is pedestrianised during the day and the
entrance through Stonebow is controlled by a rising bollard.
it was first installed some years ago there were instances it rising
under legitimate vehicles and causing damage to the underbody of the
vehicles. After catching a few buses cars and vans the problems were
sorted out and nothing is heard of it these days except for vehicles
going to the wrong side of the road to get round it.
short walk along Stonebow next to the ugly Stonebow building brings you
to the shortest street in York Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate. There is
plaque on St Crux church explaining the name. There is a little
passageway at the back of the church leading to the shambles. In the
passageway is a Letting Agent with the address one and a half Whip Ma
Whop Gate, eat your heart out Harry Potter!
Pass through this alleyway into the bottom of the Shambles and turn
will now be facing the Golden Fleece pub one of the oldest buildings
reputed to have ghost. It also sells some good beers as well and has a
fascinating history. It is worth raising your eye level to view the
upper stories of the building here as there is much of interest.
Looking to your right you can see All Saints, Pavement church with
ornate lantern tower. Turn your back on the church and head back
towards Stonebow and then take the first left into Fossgate Between the
Army and Navy Store and the YO1 pub (what a strange name for a drinking
is a treasure house of interesting buildings and once again it is worth
raising your eyes to look at the upper parts of the buildings and take
your gaze away from the restaurants, fabric, music and discount shops..
Next door to the Army and Navy store you will find one of
little gems The Blue Bell a fascinatingly small public house well worth
a look inside and if you haven't dropped into any of the pubs you have
passed so far you have probably earned yourself a quick refresher.
Service is from the bar in the front room or from the curtain
hatch if you are in the back room or passageway. You might be
lucky and find a spot to sit otherwise you will be best off standing in
the passageway. This a pub full of character serving a range
real ales. A couple of doors away is Harvill's restaurant who
a nice lunchtime menu for £6.95. As you progress
street keep your eyes upward for wonderful upper floors some dating
back to Tudor times like above Zik Zak and Supersave. At a
down to earth level McDonalds furniture store is a former cinema with
an ornate frontage.
keeping your eyes on the Upper stories make sure you don't miss the
entranceway to the Merchant Adventurers hall. This was the
meeting place for the guild that controlled overseas trade and is well
worth going in for a look round. As you progress further down
street you will come to the river Foss. Just before the
a good restaurant called the Blue Bicycle, see the photograph below.
One of it's trademarks is the blue bicycle outside chained to
post of the roadsign next to the bridge over the river. Asyou
reach the top of bridge look back along Fossgate and you will have a
view of the central Towers of the Minster.
the junction of Merchantgate turn right after the old FR Stubbs now
Loch Fyne Restaurant building into Merchantgate and then right again
and you are back where you started in Piccadily ready to catch the Park
and Ride back to where you left your car or ready to press on and look
at some more parts of York.
Circular Walk 2
Circular Walk 3
Circular Walk 4
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