Step back in time in a hidden world of medieval streets

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Keep your eyes open when walking around the city and you will often see narrow gaps between buildings, though they are easy to miss.
These are known locally as snickelways. It’s a Yorkie word from local names for little back streets: snicket + ginnel + alleyway.

These ancient rights of way often originated in medieval times. They’re only for people on foot, useful shortcuts and protected from building. Superimposed on the street map, they disappear in zig-zag fashion off busy streets filled with people, and can lead to surprising places and views in a quiet world lost in time.

Some are the proud bearers of old names, like Lund’s Court (formerly Mad Alice Lane), Grape Lane, Hole-in-the-Wall, Bedern Passage, Nether Hornpot Lane. Others are nameless (like the in-and-out snickelways between Shambles and the market).

Tip Fresh life has been given to this network of secret lanes for new generations by a lovingly-designed, hand-drawn, idiosyncratic guidebook by Mark W. Jones, which suggests informative snickelway walking tours and routes, including the walls.
Get it at the Tourist Information Office or Waterstone’s bookshop in Coney Street (The book makes a great souvenir, too.)

At A Glance

York YO1 7LZ


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