Stately days out in the North East

Climb to the top of Clifford’s Tower, for gorgeous views over Old York and the River Ouse

Clifford's Tower (River Ouse)

Abi Whyte

Posted on 22/05/2019

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It was William the Conqueror who first brought the castle to Britain; a ‘motte and bailey’ construction comprising an earthwork mound with a wooden or stone structure on top. In 1068, William the Conqueror raised a mound in York as a statement of his power over the region, and over the centuries it has witnessed some of the bloodiest events in England’s history.

Today, all that remains of the original Norman castle is the mound, with its 13th-century tower, Clifford’s Tower, built on top. It has a unique four-lobed (quatrefoil) shape, and is believed to be named after Roger de Clifford, who was hanged in the tower for treason against Edward II in 1322. Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman, was also imprisoned here before his execution in 1739.

Visitors can climb to the top of the tower for the open-air walk and gorgeous views over Old York and the River Ouse. In the distance, on a clear day, you can see the North York Moors. There is no café onsite, but picnics are welcome, and a short walk along the river will take you to Rowntree Park, with its lovely fountains and flower-filled borders, and the Reading Café, where you can borrow from its collection of over 1,000 books and sit down with a spot of tea and cake.

If you wish, you can extend your walk in this historic city along the York Walls Walk, an elevated 2-mile route that takes you around the city’s medieval walls, much of them still intact.

Plan your visit to Clifford’s Tower and the River Ouse.

Katharina