SERIAL seekers of wild floral shows, if you have done the daffs and the bluebells and have a taste for pink then head out now from York, for just one mile, and see the docks in bloom on Fulford Ings. A better bet than the 'retro-hippy' dandelions at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

Our first half mile was urban but for a taste of the Fulford Hall Estate until a snicket led down to the Ings and the bustle of the street was replaced by lush SSSI vegetation and birdsong and the first sight of the docks or, more properly, the bistorts. They have neat flowers, like pale pink cylindrical lollipops on tall stalks; abundant in tight clumps or swathes the size of tennis courts.

We wandered along the Millennium Way, around the edge of the ings, the birds in the gardens of the fine houses competing with the marsh types (sorry to be vague). Nor am I going to identify the York buildings on the north-western horizon except for the racecourse stand. One should, however, briefly skirmish with the history. In 1066 at the great Battle of Fulford the marshes here were soaked in Saxon blood and the Norwegian King Hardrada had York.

So back to the colour scheme, a peaceful and tasteful white yellow and pink. The white from the cow parsley and may bushes, the yellow from the buttercups, and for vertical definition a large clump of tall bulrushes, all very lovely.

We reached the River Ouse and York University's boathouse and saw a cabin cruiser or two and swans. It was mid-day and I thought the stroll would be better in the evening, the softer light heightening the delicate pink of the bistorts and though there might be more people the traffic noise would be less. Noise was not significant in the northern arm of the ings, the prettiest portion, but just after we followed the river past the front of Fulford Hall we followed it under the A64.

The ings south of the road are more exposed and at first I thought the only pink was in the red campions, but it was a trick of the light, the area is rich. Bistort has other names including pudding dock (see 'refreshments'), snake weed and Easterman giants; the scientific Presario bistorta is described by Richard Mabey in his Flora Britannica as an 'awkward piece of anglicised Latin'. We were approaching the Palace of the Archbishop of York across the water in Bishopthorpe, and I found myself calling bistorts bishops. There is a little beach where people peer at the gothicised palace.

Incidentally I read in the paper today that the Bishop of Lancaster is selling his pile and 'going on the road', and the road we did next, but not for long and not until we had crossed a tiny stream that was seething with inch-long fry, which was nice.

Fact file

Distance: Three and a half miles.

Time: Two hours.

General location: York.

Start: Dead-end road off the B1222.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way modified by usage.

Date walked: Friday, May 17, 2002.

Road route: The B1222 is a left turn a quarter of a mile north of the main A64 and A19 junction just south of York.

Car parking: Dead-end road.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Dock Pudding is eaten in Lancashire and the northwest. The ingredients include nettles, blackcurrant leaves, onions, oatmeal, bacon fat and young dock (bistort) leaves, but please not leaves from these highly protected SSSI docks.

Tourist & Public Transport Information: York TIC 01904 621756.

Map: Based on OS Explorer 290 York.

Terrain: Marsh and riverside.

Points of interest: For a sophisticated history of the 50 treacherous years that led up to the three great battles of 1066 (Fulford, Stamford Bridge and Hastings), read 'Bloodfeud' by Richard Fletcher, retired Professor of History at York. Published this year by the Penguin Press at £14.99.

Difficulty: Easy, especially the northern short option.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed. The short-route options are signed.

1. Down dead-end lane, right-hand bend, 50 yards, path on right (signed).

2. Left to road (pavement), pass Pasture Farm Close, 20 yards, left to St Oswald's Close, path at end to ings and right to path along bottom edges of gardens, ignore side turns.

3. Right of way joins track then 50 yards, left, left near river but is overgrown and everyone turning left to track past boathouse. Grass track (usage) near river but to left of hedge, rejoins riverside path after boats.

4. Bridge over stream, 50 yards, fork right, gate into field, and stay on riverside path.

5. Footbridge over ditch, 100 yards, right then left at field corner. Left to road, steps after flyover down to dead-end road.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:07 Saturday, May 25, 2002