Beside the City Wall

Yesterday I grabbed a little bit of sunshine and walked the dogs in towards town, with no particular plan. They aren’t very keen on the High Street, so I took a right and headed up Northernhay Street to the park. It was the first time I’ve been there for years and a perfect day for a peaceful stroll. Back in the days when I worked in the Civic Centre, it was a regular lunchtime spot in summer. When I was little and when my own children were, it was a favourite spot, along with the adjoining Rougemont Gardens, for roly-polys, so there I was again.

At the Gate
At the Gate

The first borders on my left were mostly new to me.

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And I don’t remember this Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum)

Acer Griseum
Stunning borders
Stunning borders

Time to walk up the steps

mw10This is part of the old city wall.

mw11But it feels like I’m walking in the woods.

mw12One of the old gates, walking on past there are places to peep through.

mw13Dido and Daisy prefer the shade and would like to run off into the trees, I like the sun on my face.

One of the city’s great and good on a nice curvy path

This wall cries out to stroked.

mw14mw17Ahh more steps!

mw18But the view makes it worth it.

mw19This is the entrance I was looking for. The path through Athelstan’s tower leads to Rougemont garden where you can walk inside the wall.

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I didn’t linger in Rougemont, a sign said no dogs, but I ignored it long enough to spot the teenagers through the trees above.

And to get another angle on the tower.

Okay, time to follow the rules and back through to Northernhay. By the way the ‘hay’ part means field and we have Southernhay as well.

A rather show offy foxglove variety.
A rather show offy foxglove variety.

I walked up past the war memorial, to the little pond at the bottom of the slope.

When I was little there were goldfish that I loved to see, but no-one’s home now.
This is a short circular walk, part of the longer City Walk Trail, perhaps I’ll take one of the Redcoat Guide tours one day. For now I’m nearly back to the beginning, with the wall high above me. Northernhay is actually England’s oldest public space, it was created as a pleasure walk for local people in 1612, 400myears and still giving pleasure. I hope you enjoyed it, are you walking with Jo this Monday?

mw32A last little bit of treasure.


Exeter’s history began nearly 2000 years ago, when the second Augustan Roman legion settled here in 55AD. A fortress was built overlooking the lowest crossing point of the Exe, known as Isca and manned by 6000 soldiers. An earth and timber rampart with a deep ditch in front protected the fortress.
Over the centuries the original grey volcanic rock was repaired using Heavitree Breccia, white Triassic sandstone and a pink Permian sandstone was used in the 17th century.
When the fall of the roman empire the city was pretty much abandoned and the land inside the wall returned to farmland, and little is known until Saxon times and from the 9th century the city grew quickly becoming one of the most prosperous in the country.
King Athelstan is credited with repairing the wall in time to withstand Viking attacks in 1001 AD and William the Conqueror in 1068 AD.
This photo is of a print I have, showing the city in the 17th century with the wall still intact, about seventy percent remains now. You should be able to click for a bigger view.

Exeter, inside the wall 1618
Exeter, inside the wall 1618

20 thoughts on “Beside the City Wall

  1. What a lovely walk, Gilly! I didn’t even know that Exeter had city walls, let alone such a rich history. Funny, this week you’re trading hollyhocks with Tish, and gates in city walls with Meg. 🙂 To think that you’ve been keeping this to yourself all this time! The gardens look great and I love that shot with the kids climbing on the walls. I had to look twice. Thank you so much, sweetheart. I enjoyed it 🙂

    1. Exeter has a long and fascinating history Jo, it can be seen everywhere you turn. I wish i could remember more, but there are masses records luckily. It was a very wealthy city in the past, because of the woollen trade and a busy port 🙂

      1. Did you have a lovely day out yesterday? I can scarcely believe the sun has found its way here again this morning. Our group will be down on the Moors in a while. 🙂

      2. It was really nice. except for the weather. My photos are hopeless, holding a heavy camera and an umbrella was a bit of a challenge!Driving back across Dartmoor the mist settled down and we couldn’t see a thing! Hope your moors are clear and beautiful 🙂

      3. Shame! Still lots more unbirthday treats to come 🙂 I’ve put my walk up early and I’m off to the garden for brekkie. Take care, sweetheart.

  2. Such a lovely long walk, Gilly. Up hill and down dale. It’s been a long time since I did roly-poly. What fun that must have been. What a very historic city you’ve lived in all your life. Thanks so much for the guided tour. I love your bit of treasure too. The poppy head is so artistic. My sister and I used to use them as ink stamps for our play-play post office. 🙂

  3. You are so lucky to have all of this on your doorstep, a wonderful walk. And I am so so glad it is raining outside this morning as instead of a real stroll I’ve been walking all of Jo’s Monday walks, and yours was my final stroll. Perfect to finish with – thank you

  4. That is a fabulous walk .. That foxglove is divine .. They are such wonderful flowers. I would have stroked the wall too, there is something special about being able to do this. The feel of old maybe ..😃 our pooch prefers the shape too

  5. A beautiful place for you to enjoy with Dido and Daisy. Thank you for taling me along.
    I enjoyed so many things. The foxglove flowers have such a sweet color. The Paperback Maple is joikingly called the tourist tree here in Florida. The reason is becuase the tree is peeling the same way the fiar haired tourist peel from city out in the sunn too long. ~~~~ : – )
    Have a GREAT week …. Issy 😎

  6. What a wonderful post Gilly. I love the sense of generations in the same place, which must be quite unusual these days and the continuity of roly poly. And then there are all the visual delights: the stones of the wall, the flowers, the greenery, and of course that peeling bark.

  7. What a great place to take your fur babies for a walk, carrying on family tradition. I loved the foxgloves, I once tried to grow them but like many English beauties they didn’t like the heat

  8. The foxglove is fascinating to look at. I remember my paths to my grade school during my childhood. It was nothing like this. And, it didn’t take long after graduation for most of those paths before they have already demolished and completely changed.

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