Having bought the book during a family holiday to York in the summer of 2016 I decided to return to the city in order to walk the Snickelways in their entirety as guided by Mr Jones. So it was that I found myself at Bootham Bar, one of the ancient entrances through the city walls and the starting (and ending) place of the walk on the morning of October 6th 2016.
This photo tour is in no way intended to replace the wonderful guide book written by Mr Jones which is a work of art in its own right, comparable to Alfred Wainwright's guides to the fells of the Lake District. The book is excellent value for money and I would recommend it to anybody who is planning a visit to York. It is available from Amazon and I found my copy in the "local interest" section of the branch of Waterstones in York (to be found on Coney Street not far from St. Martin's Church at time of writing). It is well worth every penny of the asking price of £5.99 and then some!
Having walked under the pedestrian arch of Bootham Bar we soon encounter our first Snickelway : Hole-in-the-Wall. This short alleyway cuts through a pub of the same name leading from High Petergate to Precentor's Court.
After admiring the buildings along Chapter House Street there is only one way we can continue at the end, right along the wonderfully named Ogleforth and on towards Goodramgate.
We dive left off the busy Goodramgate down the ancient pathway known as Bedern and are immediately transported back in time to 1349 with the chapel of The College of Vicars to our right. We continue down through a much more modern housing development until we reach an archway leading onto St. Andrewgate.
Entering King's Square we walk ahead and to the left, not yet entering The Shambles but instead walking straight along Newgate to emerge in what is now The Shambles Market before turning right down Patrick Pool, left along Church Street and out into St. Sampson's Square.
Our next Snickelway cuts through another pub, this time The Three Cranes and leads us out onto Swinegate for a little way before we head off into another, the wonderfully named Mad Alice Lane.
Walking the Snickelways one is often struck by the sudden removal of noise, crowds and bustle. One moment you can be on a modern main shopping street the next you are walking through a medieval courtyard and look back to see people rushing to and fro through the "window" back into the normal world which is the end of the alleyway.
Emerging briefly from Mad Alice Lane we now cross Low Petergate and head straight into Hornpot Lane at the end of which can be found 12th Century Holy Trinity Church. Stop in for a look if you so wish before we pass out onto Goodramgate (highly recommended if the church is open, it's a lovely place).
Now we head left along Goodramgate then cross the road to head under the archway that leads onto College Street. The massive east end of the Minster rises before us and at the end of College Street we turn left and head along Queen's Path. Now we pass a Roman column and a statue of Constantine The Great who was proclaimed Emperor near this very spot in 306 AD.
Just after the Roman Column and statue of Constantine there is a left turn we take down Minster Gates and then over the Petergates (meeting place of "High" and "Low") into Stonegate which can be a very busy and bustling place indeed. You will see a sign which stretches overhead from one side of the street to the other which advertises "Ye Olde Starre Inne". We are looking for a small opening on the left just before this which is marked with a small red devil figure high on the wall above the alley. You are about to enter one of my favourite Snickelways : "Coffee Yard"
If you only "do" one Snickelway in York, make it Coffee Yard. It's long (220 feet) and narrow (less than three feet wide in places) with three tunneled sections (as low as 5' 10") and can trace its history back to the medieval period. You will pass right through the middle of Barley Hall along the way which dates back to the 14th century. Enjoy the chance to take a look through the full height windows in to the reconstructed medieval hall as you proceed.
We now walk past the end of Grape Lane and down a stretch of Swinegate before taking a right onto Back Swinegate and immediately left to head down the wonderfully named Finkle Street. Finkle Street leads us back into St. Sampson's Square near The Roman Bath pub. I took a detour for "refreshments" here and a visit to the cellar where you can see for yourself the remains of the Roman bath house (for a charge at time of writing of £3.50 and well worth it).
Now we head across St. Sampson's Square to Silver Street, through the end of Jubbergate and onto Little Shambles. Here we are about to take in no less than 7 Snickelways in the space of a couple of minutes as our path slaloms in and out between The Shambles and The Market until we are finally headed out near the end of The Shambles through a passage next to St. Crux Hall and onto Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate - the shortest street in York and with the longest name!
We now head along St. Saviourgate, past the Central Methodist Church which features four huge columns. Crossing the road we head to the old St. Saviour's Church building which is now used by the York Archaeological Trust as the "Jorvik DIG".
The Snickelways book told me to walk around the rear of the church building, through the gardens and back onto Hungate. Here I encountered the first obstacle to completing the walk as described in the book - the gate back onto Hungate was chained, locked and blocked by wooden pallets. I re-traced my steps and made my way along Hungate which features a remarkably unlovely entrance ramp to a multistory car park. Never mind, Hungate is but short in length and soon we are heading back up The Stonebow and towards Black Horse Passage on the opposite side of the road.
The route now heads up along Parliament Street which is full of modern chain stores and usually bustling with shoppers. We take a left onto Market Street and then left again to head down Peter Lane which is a little more like what we're used to. Directly ahead down Peter Lane are actually two Snickelways. We want to take the left hand fork at this point to walk up Le Kyrk Lane and out onto High Ousegate (the Snickelway to the right here is Pope's Head Alley and we'll be walking back down that way a little later).
Crossing High Ousegate we head through All Saints' Passage (Snickelway 35) and then across Coppergate. Follow the sign for the Jorvik Centre although at time of writing the centre is still closed following the flooding of Winter 2015/2016.
Keeping to the left of the square we are aiming for a passage to the left of the Fenwick's store which leads back out to the River Foss. Turn right and follow the river for a few yards and we're in to the Castle Car Park where we want to loop back around to our right and aim for Castle Walk to the opposite side of Fenwick's to the passage we took earlier. Now we turn left, climbing up a slight incline by the side of St. Mary's Church and towards Castlegate where we turn left once more to head back towards the prominent landmark of Clifford's Tower.
Keeping to the left of Clifford's Tower atop its mound we now walk right around the oval of grass known as "The Eye of York" before heading down the hill towards Tower Street with St. George's Field beyond. To the right of the path just inside St. George's Field is a flood level marker which had not at the time of my visit been updated to show the level reached the previous winter.
We follow the wall on which the flood level record is kept towards the source of quite a lot of that flooding - the River Ouse. Here we turn right and take a pleasant stroll alongside the river until we pass the King's Arms pub and climb some steps to cross Low Ousegate right by Ouse Bridge.
After crossing Low Ousegate the Snickelways guide book tells me to head down some steps right by the side of the river on the opposite side of the road. Here my way was obstructed for the second (and last) time. Right over the entrance to the steps leading down towards "Fish Landing" were two advert signs placed there by the nearby bar.
And that was Snickelway 48, the final Snickelway of the tour!
But we're not quite finished yet. We need to get back to where we started, so having rejoined Coney Street we turn left and head up Lendal emerging onto Museum Street where we turn right and keep our noses pointed at York Minster. Turn the corner to the left onto High Petergate and before us is the ancient gateway of Bootham Bar. Keep to the left, pass through the left hand pedestrian arch of Bootham Bar and now we are finished.