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Usually after travelling for 14 hours I am ready for a nap, but not in York because here it seemed a waste of valuable time. Instead, after a trans-Atlantic flight, I checked into my hotel and set off for a walk along the ancient wall girdling this city. It led me for close to three miles, up and down steps, through little stone buildings, past gardens behind the cathedral and row houses with washing billowing on backyard lines. From there I went on to rest over tea and a sticky bun in a timbered cafe across from Britain's largest medieval church, and wander in a warren of crooked, cobbled streets lined with enough specialty shops to keep me here for a week. Only then, as a late afternoon gloom crept over the city, did I return to my hotel impatient for tomorrow.

York's fascination lies in nineteen hundred years of history, much of which is alive and within its walls. "The history of York is the history of England," George V1 said. He was right in that every period of architecture is represented, from the Roman and Saxon wall to elegant Victorian houses, with original Viking and a veritable glut of medieval in between.

When the Romans established a garrison town here in 71 AD, they called it Eboracum. A succession of Roman emperors came for a visit in the next 400 years, including Constantine the Great who, while here, was proclaimed ruler of the known world. Saxons took over in the seventh century. The Vikings who invaded in 867 called their settlement Jorvik.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Visitor and Conference Bureau, 6 Rougier St, York, North Yorkshire YO2 1JA, tel (01904) 620557.