1.8 miles long, 40 foot high, and 30 foot wide, the granite and basalt ancient Walls of Derry form a complete circular walk around the inner city and encapsulate the tumult of Ireland’s history. A tour of the walls should be on the bucket list for anyone interested in the goings on on this island since 546AD, when Saint Columba first established a monastery on this oak covered grove.
The Walls of Derry are completely intact, and the walk that you can jog or amble is an atmospheric reliving of events from its religious origins, through its plantation history, right up to the recent past with Bloody Sunday and on to the construction of the Peace Bridge, which you can see from the part of the wall that overlooks the River Foyle.
It is probably for the Great Siege of Derry that the walls tell their most violent history, when the Apprentice Boys closed the gates and, for fifteen weeks the city held out against the Jacobite army of James II, the starving 25,000 population living in the 29 acre site within the walls on a canine and rodent diet, and pledging No Surrender! The fact that the city was never taken earned it its title The Maiden City. You see the sign No Surrender when you look over the Fountain area of the city but, walk a little further, and you are now overlooking the Bog-side, with its tragic and stoic stories to tell also. Overlooking what is known as “agro-corner” this is where Bloody Sunday took place, and where the famous gable end wall declares you are “Now Entering Free Derry”.
If you want to get the best out of the walk, then take a tour with the Martin McCrossan City Walking Tours, who cover about a mile of the walls, and walk the remainder yourself. Tours cost only £4 per person, including a cup of coffee, and the guides bring the history to life, telling all sides of the story of a city that has an astonishing past. The walls are a national treasure, and worth travelling to the North West just to experience. Martin McCrossan Tours.
Eating, Drinking and Staying
Search Derry on this site for more restaurant recommendations, and here are some newly opened places in the city:
Named for one of the city’s many gates, this is a compact, comfortable and beautifully realised boutique hotel. The design is subtle, the rooms are cosy and cossetting, but it is the superlative staff who make a few days here into something special.
With superstar chefs Derek Creagh and Monto Mansour at the stoves, and the creative and dynamic team of Ciaran and Melanie Breslin heading up this super-stylish new venture on Strand Road, the energy is moving back into this old part of town. Café, bakery and restaurant, with everything you need from breakfast to dinner.
Nonna’s Wood Fired Pizzas
Darren Bradley’s wood fired pizza palace, on Spencer Road in the Waterside, is the destination for fine, crisp-base pizza. They serve a Ring of Fire pizza which features the Komodo Dragon chilli, which boasts some 1.4 million Scoville heat units. If you finish it, you win a Ring of Fire t-shirt!
Walled City Brewery
Cross over the Peace Bridge into the Waterside to enjoy the superb brews and excellent cooking in this brilliant fusion of craft brewery, bar and bistro.
Stylish rooms make for a very comfortable spot to enjoy coffee in the centre of town.
In a basement on Shipquay Street, this is a super-friendly little Thai restaurant, with chefs from Thailand. As with many other destinations in Derry, value for money is excellent. BYO, so make sure to get some good Northbound Brewery bottles before you go