Once a year, Robin, over at “Breezes at Dawn” hosts “Walktober“. What is Walktober I hear you say? Well, within an allotted time during the month of October a group of us bloggers all go for a walk (or run, or jog, or swim – the rules are very loose and open to pretty much however you feel to interpret them). The main thing is that we all do it together, separately, and share the experience. The time frame is pretty loose too, I think there’s easily another week left yet so if you fancy joining in go ahead and drop Robin a line.
It’s just as well the rules are so flexible because I’m not known for remembering them, let alone following them when I do remember. Apart from walking back and for from work, or down town to the shops, I haven’t walked, or am not planning to walk anywhere special so I’ve been wracking my brain as to what to write about this year but hidden away in my files I’ve come across a whole set of pictures which haven’t seen the light of day since I dropped them there.
I’ll take you on a wander through the old grey memory cells and see if with the help of my pictures we can spend a while walking around part of the old city wall in York.
Did you ever play a game as a child where you would jump from one large paving slab to the next but never step on the lines ? A wander through my memories is a little like that. As I land on a picture, I can instantly see the memory of the photograph, and a couple of moments either side of it, but I can’t see past the lines at the edge of the memory, then I jump to the next picture and I can remember that memory too. If I line the pictures up the memories will tell me a story, and if I’m really lucky, one or two of the picture memories will overlap, a bit like wonky slabs where one will overlap the other.
My memories are usually harmless enough so if you’d like to join me, jump in.
There are lots of different places to join the wall, most have a map attached to the wall itself to help you plan where you are, and where you’re going. I believe we join the wall at the highest point on the map, each point has a tower and usually some sort of viewing platform. I know you probably won’t be able to read the map from here, but I’m pretty sure the tower we’re looking from is called Robin Hood Tower… isn’t that a great name. Looking into the city from the tower at this point we can see York Minster. As much as I am really a fine weather walker, we appear to be wandering along the wall after the rain, and it is of course winter, otherwise how else would we have been able to sneak a view of the Minster through the trees.
I’m a thorough believer in stopping to look around when I find a bench, partly because I’m just a firm believer in stopping for a rest, but also because you very often find a pretty view from the bench, I’ve yet to find one placed facing a wall. I also like to peer into and around things, taking in the alternative view. There’s a good chance I’m actually standing behind the bench, if not on top of the bench, to peer out at the other side of the wall as we head off in a Monk Bar direction on our map… It seems we’re following the wall in a clockwise direction.
For once I’m quite grateful to the “Elf Brigade” (health and safety) for the railings on the outside of the wall path, my iron’s a little low again causing a little dizziness now and again so without the railings I would probably be concentrating more on where I was putting my feet and less on what I can see with the camera.
The wall is surprisingly busy, warm coats, hats and scarves mean so long as it’s not actually raining it’s a pleasant walk whatever time of year. I’ve spotted a puddle and I’m a sucker for a well placed puddle so I’ll just hang on here for a while until there’s a gap in the other walkers long enough for the footstep ripples to disappear and see what we can catch in the reflection.
Wait with me if you’d like, or pop up onto the tower to take a peek at what’s on the outside if you don’t mind the height, or you could wander onto the next stop, Monk Bar Gate and into the museum, I’ll catch you up.
I won’t go into the museum this time, but I do have a couple of photos from a previous visit where Hubby posed with the camera in an old rusty helmet standing behind a heavy chainmail vest. The heavy chainmail is hanging from the ceiling so you don’t have to wear it for a photo, just stand behind it. It would also appear that at sometime in the past, villains would have their heads removed and said heads would then be displayed on stakes for all to see and take heed not to meet the same fate. There used to be one of those wooden pictures, more often seen at seasides, where you can put your head through a circle and place yourself in the picture too. Hubby, I gather, didn’t like the picture of me with my head wonky and my tongue hanging out as if I was as grotesque as the other two people who’s heads appear in the picture on stakes either side of me, there is a second photo in the files with a smile pose instead.
We can’t go through the museum to the wall on the other side, once you’ve had a look around come back out of the little door, the doorway looks quite low so mind your head as you go in and out. Next we’re turning away from the wall and down a narrow set of steps to bring us out onto the present day pavement below, watch out for the traffic while we cross the road, and head up the steps on the other side to re-join the wall. Take your time, I’m just going to hold on here for a few minutes to let the traffic pass so that I can take another picture.
Take a look behind you, this is the door on the other side of Monk Bar Gate, the one the defenders of the city would have come through many, many, many moons ago. Those steps are steep aren’t they, do you need to catch your breath or are you ready to wander a little further ?
The grassy bank comes right up close to the wall here, I bet it’s a fun place to be with a sleigh when the snow falls.
We’ll wander along another stretch of wall, no rush, take your time to peer this way and that, it’s amazing what you can see when you’re looking for it.
The memory fails here, so I’ll ask Mr Google for a little help. It would appear our pathway in the sky has come to an end and we have to rejoin the earth-dwellers for a little while. Here, Mr Google says we have to leave the wall, navigate across a road junction and a bridge before finally picking up the scent again. Now the advantage of knowing I have a bad memory is that I’ve learned to compensate. I haven’t shown the picture here, but in the files there is a very handy picture of a road sign fixed to a low wall…
And just below it with a directional arrow is a very re-assuring sign pointing us to the city walls.
Here we go, we’ve found it again, it carries on beyond this red building. The building isn’t very tall for a tower is it, but that’s exactly what it is… the “Red Tower”.
A little history here for those of you inclined…
“This Tower marks the termination of the City Wall, and at one time marked the commencement of an impassable swamp, which extended to Layerthorpe Postern, the position of which was near the existing Layerthorpe Bridge; the Tower suffered severely in the siege of 1644 and has undergone many restorations since that period rendered necessary by the nature of the ground on which the foundations are laid. Formerly the Tower was known as Brimstone House after a manufactory carried on within its walls.”
… Copied from the plaque you can see on show on the wall facing us .
I’m afraid this is where our walk must end today. We’ve reached the point on the wall where we find Walmgate Bar. I have a vague recollection of a phone call from Hubby letting me know that he’d arrived in York to meet me and so I’ve taken a hurried snap for reference so that if we make it back to York again I’ll pick up where we’ve left off. If you know where you are, then you’re more than welcome to carry on without me, or maybe this little piece of wall has enticed you to make your own visit to York, if you do go, I would love to see your pictures or hear of your wander around the wall too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the wander through my memories, we did pretty well not to get lost in them, I’m looking forward to joining a few more of Robin’s Regulars on their walks for October too. Feel free to follow the link and join me.
If you enjoyed Walktober with me this year, why not look back at a few others…
I walked along a canal towpath in “Walktober in Wolverhampton” in October 2015.
“Walktober 2014” had me taking you on a local wander on my way home from a night shift, starting off in the dark and looking for a pretty sunrise before I turned in for some sleep.
I nearly missed Walktober 2013 but remembered just in time and shared some “Secluded Saturday” streets in Oxford as I strolled into almost a time warp with my sister, just a stone’s throw away from the busy shoppers.
And “Walking home” is a pretty self explanatory title for my very first Walktober in 2012.
Thanks Robin, who would have thought back in October 2012 that we’d still be walking together five years on… I’m looking forward to the next five years too.