Maps: OS Landranger 105; Explorer 290
Start: York Station (597517)
Finish: Carrbank Lane, Stockton on the Forest (659563)
Distance: 7.4 miles
Natural England NCA: 28 (Vale of York)
Special interest: York Minster, York Walls
Starting from York Station, walk towards the city centre, cross the River Ouse on Lendal Bridge and carry on to York Minster, one of Northern Europe’s largest Gothic cathedrals.
Go past Constantine’s statue outside the South Door, past the Minster stone yard, into Goodramgate, turn left and then climb the steps on the right of Monkgate Bar up to the City’s medieval walls (A). Walk as far as the next steps at (B) and descend to the five-road junction. Now walk NE up Layerthorpe (Carpet Right is on your right).
Just over the slight rise in the road (C), at the fingerpost indicating ‘Orbital Route’, go down right to Cycle Route 66 which uses the line of an old railway. Follow this to Hallfield Road. Cross the road and keep following signs for the Orbital Route. This swings left alongside Tang Hall Beck (D), under two road bridges and through the newly developing suburb of Derwenthorpe to the track T-junction (E). Here turn right.
Reaching the road bend in Osbaldwick (F), go left and past St Thomas’ Church. Continue on the quiet road for another mile or so, under the A64 and past St James’ Church to the T-junction in the centre of Murton village (G).
Turn left, then sharp right on Moor Lane, to the left bend at the road corner (H). Check navigation carefully over the next mile.
Follow the footpath indicator (and not the bridleway) across the field to a stile. Cross the stile, bear right and continue to the end of the track. Turn sharp left for about 75m to another stile in the hedge. Go right for some 140m to a path junction. Go on ahead for a few metres, beside the ditch, before the wide grassy track swings left. Following the ditch, soon bend sharp right and follow the field edge.
It’s not far before you have to cross from left to right of the ditch, but stay beside it. Then, after a left-right wiggle, the path crosses the last field and reaches Holtby Lane (I). Go right for 160m and turn left down Rudcarr Lane (J).
At the road bend (K), turn off the road on to the bridleway, which is part of the Jorvic Way and is called Carrbank Lane on the OS map. Follow this, with a few twists and turns, for just over a mile into Stockton on the Forest. The bus stops are short distances on both left and right.
York Minster Revealed has been a five-year project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and the first stage was completed in 2016. It has been the largest restoration and conservation project of its kind in the UK and its aim has been to conserve the Minster’s world-class stonework and stained glass for generations to come. The new learning opportunities that have been created by the project are available for everyone to enjoy and improved access to the South Transept, Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt will enable visitors to view York Minster as never before. Entrance tickets are valid for a year so you can make more than one visit. To find out more about the project visit yorkminster.org/york-minster-revealed.html
As part of York Minster Revealed, The Undercroft and Treasury have been transformed into a series of new interactive galleries and exhibitions. The Minster invites visitors to: ‘Experience a rare place where all times co-exist and where history is alive and breathing within the underground chambers of York Minster. Walk in the footsteps of Roman soldiers and discover dramatic events that threatened the very existence of York Minster. Explore the lives and treasures of the people, past and present, who have made this one of the greatest cathedrals in the world.’ Dynamic new audiovisual and interactive galleries reveal the significance behind York Minster’s treasures as never before, in an inspirational, two thousand-year heroic, historic and human journey.
The Undercroft and Treasury act like a Christian museum but during 2016 they took on a rather different role. Severe flooding in York in early 2016 left the Jorvik (Viking) Centre in the city under water and unfit for public use. So for a year the Centre took up temporary residence in the Minster. It has now returned to its own premises in Coppergate and the Minster Treasury is scheduled to reopen in April 2017.
The Conservation and Restoration part of the project is drawing upon international expertise from masons and carvers to glass conservators at the award-winning stone and stained glass studios. In The Stoneyard traditional, medieval skills and ground-breaking technology work hand-in-hand to help renew the Minster’s stonework and keep the structure secure for the future. Almost 3,500 stones have needed conserving or replacing on the East End. One problem that the Minster had faced was that of acid rain. The magnesian limestone weathers naturally in any case but increased traffic flows around the building caused more harmful gases to be released into the atmosphere. This in turn increased the strength of the acid rain. Partly to reduce this effect, most traffic was banned some years ago from the immediate Minster precincts.
At the same time as the stoneworkers have been occupied, York Glaziers’ Trust have been working on a gigantic jig-saw to protect the stained glasswork. By 2016 the first stage of the restoration work had been completed. The main focus has been the work on John Thornton’s Great East Window. Glass panels have been repaired and restored; surrounding stonework has been replaced. Over the decades, piecemeal repairs to the glasswork had been carried out by adding additional lead edgings around the glass panels. All these extra bits of lead have been removed (although the original lead surroundings remain) and have been replaced with epoxy-resin to hold the panes in place. There are still some glass panels to go back in place and the whole project will probably not be finished until 2018. Needless to say, routine maintenance and conservation work will still be continually required after that date.
Finally, if you are a romantic, don’t forget to kiss under the Heart of Yorkshire window at the other end of the Minster. According to the legend, all loved up couples that kiss under the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’ window will stay together forever.
York City Walls
A walk around York City Walls is almost a rite of passage for local residents. There is no cost; the distance is only a couple of miles and as an exercise in History fieldwork it could hardly be bettered. Numerous websites describe the history of the Walls and give details about the walk. The following summary is taken from www.historyofyork.org.uk/themes/the-york-city-walls
York’s city or ‘bar’ walls are the most complete example of medieval city walls still standing in England today. Beneath the medieval stonework lie the remains of earlier walls dating to the Roman period.
The Roman walls survived into the 9th century when York was invaded in AD 866 by the Danish Vikings. The invaders buried the existing Roman wall under an earth bank and topped it with a wooden palisade – a tall fence of pointed stakes.
This palisade was replaced in the 13th and 14th centuries with the stone walls we see today. These medieval walls originally included 4 main gates or ‘bars’ (Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar), together with 6 postern (or secondary) gates and no less than 44 intermediate towers. A defensive ring fortification stretching for over two miles now enclosed and protected the medieval city and castle.
By the late 18th century, however, the walls were no longer required as defences for the city and they had fallen into disrepair. In 1800, the Corporation of York applied for an Act of Parliament to demolish them. In addition to the poor condition of the walls at the time, the narrow gateways of the bars were inconvenient and the walls themselves hindered the city’s expansion. Many other cities, including London, were removing their outdated, medieval city walls at this time. In York, however, the city officials met with fierce and influential opposition and by the mid-nineteenth century the Corporation had been forced to back down.
Unfortunately, the call for preservation came too late for some parts of the walls – the barbicans at all but one of the gateways (Walmgate Bar) had been torn down along with 3 postern gates, 5 towers and 300 yards of the wall itself.
Since the mid-nineteenth century the walls have been restored and maintained for public access, including the planting of spring flowers on the old Viking embankment. Today the walls are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and are Grade 1 listed.