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Southampton Old Town Walls

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Southampton Old Town Walls
Author: Penny Hastings, Published: 30 May 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walkstar0 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walkstar0 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walkstar0 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walkstar0 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk
Hampshire, Southampton
Walk Type: Town or city
Southampton Old Town Walls
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk
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This Old Town Walk is a 2.5 mile circular trail and a pleasant way to explore the historical parts of the city of Southampton in Hampshire. The Old Town has over 90 listed buildings and more than 30 ancient monuments, with medieval wine vaults, an array of medieval churches, and fine Georgian houses and hotels. Southampton (home of the Spitfire) was devastated by bomb damage during WW2, when German bombers sought to destroy the factories where Spitfires were made. The extensive rebuilding which has taken place in the city since, is very mixed in style. This has resulted in a landscape where the ultra-modern sometimes sits alongside the ancient and which generates a correspondingly mixed response: some people love it, others loathe it.

The walk around the Old Town is all on pavement. There are some steps and other high points you can climb up to but these are all optional. Allow about 1.5 hours for the walk and maybe give yourself some extra time so you can call in at one of the cafes or restaurants for some refreshment en route.

Southampton is a major city so getting there is straightforward. The out of town approach is from M27 or M3, then take signs to the city centre. The walk begins at the West Quay car park where you can park all day. Approximate post code SO15 1ST. If you are coming by public transport, Southampton Central rail station is just a 10 minute walk away from the start point.

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Walk Sections

Start to Forty Steps
Start to Forty Steps

Start point: 50.9044 lat, -1.4092 long
End point: 50.9021 lat, -1.406 long

From West Quay car park, head south down Harbour Parade towards West Quay. Turn left through the cutway (Hollywood Bowl and the restaurant L'Osteria will be on your right) until you see the old walls ahead of you. Go up the Forty Steps.

Forty Steps to Southampton Castle
Forty Steps to Southampton Castle

Start point: 50.9021 lat, -1.406 long
End point: 50.8998 lat, -1.4067 long

At the top of the steps you will see the Masonic Hall ahead of you. Go down Forest View Road until you reach the site of Southampton Castle.

Built after the Norman conquest of 1066, the King and his court would stay at Southampton Castle on their way to France. After gradually falling into disrepair the castle was rebuilt in 1805, but demolished 10 years later.

Southampton Castle to Tudor House
Southampton Castle to Tudor House

Start point: 50.8998 lat, -1.4067 long
End point: 50.8996 lat, -1.4058 long

Following the path along, pass the site of Southampton Castle and the Gardrobe Tower, then turn left through the arch up Blue Anchor Lane until you reach the Tudor House at the top.

Blue Anchor Lane was the original route from the medieval quayside into the town and the market in St Michael’s Square. The stone arch forms part of the town walls. The portcullis slot is still visible.

The Tudor House is well worth a visit, consisting nowadays of a museum and a cafe. You can also explore the gardens and see St. John's Palace.

Tudor House to Westgate Hall
Tudor House to Westgate Hall

Start point: 50.8996 lat, -1.4058 long
End point: 50.8989 lat, -1.4069 long

From the Tudor House, turn right down Bugle Street. When you reach the historic Duke of Wellington pub turn right into Westgate Street.

The Westgate was built following the French Raid of 1338. In 1415 Henry V and his army departed through here on their way to victory at Agincourt. The sailors and passengers of the Mayflower and the Speedwell passed through Westgate on their way to America in 1620.

Westgate Hall to Cuckoo Lane
Westgate Hall to Cuckoo Lane

Start point: 50.8989 lat, -1.4069 long
End point: 50.8981 lat, -1.4069 long

At Westgate you can mount the walls for a better view. Walk south and then alongside the sea front past the Mayflower Pilgrim Memorial until you come to the white building (pictured) at the end of Cuckoo Lane.

Cuckoo Lane to Town Quay
Cuckoo Lane to Town Quay

Start point: 50.8981 lat, -1.4069 long
End point: 50.8974 lat, -1.4056 long

Go past the end of Cuckoo Lane and cross Bugle Street. You will pass the old Woolhouse on your left, now called the Dancing Man pub and brewery - very attractive inside and out, and well worth a visit!

This building was erected in the 14th century for wool to be stored and then exported to the continent. Southampton's prosperity in the Middle Ages depended on the wool trade. During the Napoleonic wars, The Wool House was used to accommodate French prisoners of war and later became a Maritime Museum. It is a Grade 1 listed building.

Once you are past the Dancing Man, cross French Street and enter Town Quay park ahead of you.

Town Quay to Watergate
Town Quay to Watergate

Start point: 50.8974 lat, -1.4056 long
End point: 50.8969 lat, -1.4043 long

Go through Town Quay park, past Quilter's Vault. This vault is thought to have been built during the late 13th century. Many properties with wine vaults beneath them became pubs, as the vault could be used to store beer.

The vault takes its name from Eliza Quilter, a 19th century landlady who, it is said, kept order in the pub with a big stick she kept behind the bar, and never needed the police to intervene.

Once past Quilter's Vault, turn right along the High Street until you reach the Watergate ruin at the end of the road.

Watergate to God's House Tower
Watergate to God's House Tower

Start point: 50.8969 lat, -1.4043 long
End point: 50.8964 lat, -1.403 long

From the Watergate ruin, cross the High Street and head down Winkle Street.

On the corner of Winkle Street is another historic building, God's House Tower. This provided formidable defence for the medieval town. The town gunner lived here and the town’s armoury of guns, powder and shot was stored at ground level. The guns were hauled up through the tower when needed. Keyhole shaped gun ports are visible around the building.

God's House Tower to Holyrood Church
God's House Tower to Holyrood Church

Start point: 50.8964 lat, -1.403 long
End point: 50.8996 lat, -1.4036 long

Once you leave God's House Tower, head north away from the sea up the path called the Back of the Walls. On your right is the old East Wall and the remains of the thirteenth century Friary which served the poor quarter of the city until the Dissolution in the reign of Henry VIII. On your left are modern buildings and car parks.

When the path reaches Briton Street, turn right. At the end of Briton Street, cross Orchard Place and go through Queen's Park which runs alongside Queen's Terrace. Ahead of you, you will see South Western House, where many of the first class passengers stayed before embarking on the Titanic. The Grand Cafe inside is a good place for some refreshment.

On the northern side of the park, you turn into Latimer Street, then go left again into Oxford Street where you will find many fine restaurants. At the end of Oxford Street take another left into Bernard Street. Walk down Bernard Street until you come to the remains of Holyrood Church, which was destroyed by bombs in 1940.

Holyrood Church to York Buildings
Holyrood Church to York Buildings

Start point: 50.8996 lat, -1.4036 long
End point: 50.9018 lat, -1.4025 long

Turn right past the church onto the High Street. On your right you will pass the Dolphin Hotel, the oldest hotel in Southampton (1454 or earlier). At the end of the High Street, turn right into East Street, then a little way down turn left into York Buildings.

York Buildings to Bargate
York Buildings to Bargate

Start point: 50.9018 lat, -1.4025 long
End point: 50.9028 lat, -1.4041 long

Follow the York Buildings road round until you reach the Strand. On your left you will see an old round tower. This is the Polymond Tower which originally marked the north east end of the city's wall. Go up the steps past the tower to York Walk. The old walls and York Gate will be on your left. At the end of York Walk, go up some more steps and through a cutway between the shops which will take you out to the Bargate.

Bargate to End
Bargate to End

Start point: 50.9028 lat, -1.4041 long
End point: 50.9027 lat, -1.406 long

Keeping the Bargate on your left, walk down Bargate Street. You will see more old walls and the white poles of a bridge on your left. There are steps which take you up across the bridge, which crosses Castle Way. In the middle of the bridge you will see the statue of John le Flemyng, who was a MP and then Mayor around 1300. On the other side of the bridge is Arundel Tower, which originally marked the north west corner of the city walls.

From Arundel Tower, descend the steps and walk along the walls past the Catchcold Tower until you reach the Forty Steps again, from which you can return to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by the author hastypenny and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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7 gallery images for "Southampton Old Town Walls"

10817_0hastypenny1527575435 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk Image by: Penny Hastings
Uploaded: 29 May 2018

10817_0hastypenny1527575927 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk Image by: Penny Hastings
Uploaded: 29 May 2018

10817_0hastypenny1527575964 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk Image by: Penny Hastings
Uploaded: 29 May 2018

10817_0hastypenny1527576030 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk Image by: Penny Hastings
Uploaded: 29 May 2018

10817_0hastypenny1527576066 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk Image by: Penny Hastings
Uploaded: 29 May 2018

10817_0hastypenny1527576112 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk Image by: Penny Hastings
Uploaded: 29 May 2018

10817_0hastypenny1527723642 Southampton Old Town Walls Circular Walk Image by: Penny Hastings
Uploaded: 30 May 2018

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