Five York walks for when lockdown is driving you crazy


Travel Editor Lauren Craig takes a closer look at some of the nicest walks around the city of York

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Image by Tim Green

By Lauren Craig

Taking on the position of Travel Editor this year may have not been the smartest idea, particularly since any sort of recreational travel is now pretty much illegal. However, focusing on the little we can do has led me to walking - something that looks set to be a saviour over these next four weeks. Although I can appreciate how hard it is to get motivated, especially in the colder weather, I really encourage you to try out these walks with housemates. You can even meet a friend (just the one) and get those endorphins flowing. Hopefully it will allow a break from the monotony of the indoors and inspire you to catch up on that Uni work you've ‘forgotten’ about.

1. Rowntree Park
Just down the road from Aldi is one of York’s prettiest parks (pretty not because it’s down the road from Aldi). Like so many things and places relating to York, it is named after Joseph Rowntree who opened it in 1921 in memory of employees that died in WW1.  After exiting the path that takes you through the army barracks, simply carry straight on down Hospital Fields Road. Upon entering the park you’ll almost immediately see the stunning Millennium Bridge. It's a great place to sit, people-watch and enjoy views of the river. Even better, at night the whole bridge lights up, with colours changing every few seconds. The park itself is also lovely to walk through. Admittedly, this time of year many of the flowers aren't at their peak, but the various gardens and pathways still provide a brief escape from the city. For a longer walk, once over the bridge turn left to find the path that follows the river.

2. St Nicks Nature Reserve
For an equally immersive experience that's closer to campus, St Nicks Nature Reserve is a hidden gem. Just down Greendykes Lane and halfway along Melrosegate, the entrance is reasonably hidden in foliage so keep an eye out. Inside is a maze of greenery, with the many paths making it seem much bigger than it actually is. The former landfill site-turned-nature reserve is centered around St Nicks Environment Centre, dedicated to making York more sustainable and definitely worth a visit in post-lockdown times. For keen cyclists, it opens out onto a cycle route that has links across the city.

3. 22 Acres and Fulford Golf Course
Again, closer to campus but somewhere that took me a while to find in my first year is the expanse of green that is 22 acres. While you may often see it overrun with various sporting teams, 22 acres and the adjoining golf course are both open to the public. Particularly during lockdown - with Uni sport cancelled - they make an enjoyable stroll with the path next to the golf course going much further than you might think. There is even the possibility of spotting Halifax College. Don’t get your hopes up, though; you might reach Leeds first.

4. The Walls
A classic for York, if you haven't yet walked the walls of the city, lockdown is the perfect time. As you might expect, being around since Roman times means there's no shortage of historical information along the way. As well as being picturesque, they're a fantastic way to get around the city. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time, but if you are limited it's easy enough to do just one or two sections. Bear in mind though that due to Covid restrictions there is now a one-way system in place as the walls are narrow in some areas. Coming down off the walls, this is also a good opportunity to get to know the centre of York better. Many streets - particularly The Shambles - will likely never be as quiet as they are now.

5. Fields behind Heslington
Just behind Campus West (which is also lovely to walk around) is the quaint Yorkshire village of Heslington. Most will know it for The Charles pub, but walking through the village it's hard to believe you’re not in the countryside. Carry on past the post office and the famous sandwich shop to the end of the village to turn off Main Street, left onto Low Lane. Following this road will shortly lead to a public bridleway that will take you on a circular loop past the A64 heading back to West Campus. There is even a shortcut through a field if you fancy. This is the perfect walk if you’re missing the country, with nothing but farmers’ fields as far as the eye can see.

It's just a shame you can’t finish it off with a pint.