York’s Hidden Spaces – Rowntree Park, Micklegate

Join us as we discover hidden green spaces in our blog series

We’ll start with a relatively well known and much loved space just south of the city centre – Rowntree Park

At Move the Masses HQ we’re always marveling at how many green spaces there are to explore in York – many within walking or cycling distance of the city centre. And that’s not to mention the wonderful countryside we have a little further afield with the Dales and Moors on our doorstep.

For now though, we want to keep it local and champion some hidden – and not so hidden – green spaces that you may not know exist in this fabulous city. We’ll be blogging regularly about some of our favourite spots, so please look out for these, and let us know if you visit anywhere new as a result – we always love to hear from you! Likewise, if you have anywhere you think others should know about, please get in touch and we’ll feature it soon: hello@movethemasses.org.uk 


Happy exploring! 


There are plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to explore


Even on a winter’s day, the lake is a stunning focal point

How to access Rowntree Park…

Nestled in between the popular Bishopthorpe ‘Bishy’ Road and the River Ouse a short walk south from the City Centre, Rowntree Park can be accessed via a few different routes on foot, all offering a different perspective.

The park can be accessed from Bishopthorpe Road – via Vine Street, Richardson Street or Butcher Terrace, or it can be accessed via a riverside walk along Terry Avenue (although please note that there is currently no access to Terry Avenue from the city centre, via Skeldergate Bridge, while the Environment Agency carries out work on flood defences. The route is expected to reopen around May 2022 – so for now, you’ll have to go via Bishopthorpe Road). It’s just a short stroll from Millennium Bridge too if you find yourself on the other side of the river, in Fulford. 

What can I do here?

As well as a beautiful lake in the center of the park, and a variety of well manicured gardens and pathways to explore, there are plenty of facilities available – including 6 tennis courts (which are free to use), a basketball court, a skate park, public toilets, a large children’s play area and there are even a couple of table tennis tables. Something even the well-acquainted amongst you may not know is that half of the lake can be used for model boats (the section nearest the children’s play park). The Reading Cafe has to be our highlight though – its vantage point over the park makes for a perfect pitstop all year round.  

Our top tip upon visiting though is to look out for the goose poo – it can make for a very slippy (and messy!) walk. Those who are familiar with Rowntree Park will know what we mean – if you know you know! 


One of the (innocent looking) perpetrators of the slippery walks

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Looking towards the large children’s play area

Did you know…

That Rowntree Park was gifted to the City of York Council in 1921 by Rowntree & Co (of chocolate/ confectionary fame!) as a  memorial to the Cocoa Works staff who fell and suffered during World War 1. A further memorial was added to the park after the second world war, in the form of some beautiful – now listed – gates at the riverside entrance to the park, from Terry Avenue. Next time you’re there, take a moment to visit the gates and also the bronze plaques left as a memorial. 

These beautiful gates at the park entrance on Terry Avenue were added in memory of all those who lost their lives in World War II.

Reading café and pond at Rowntree Park

The Reading Cafe – an ideal spot to while away a few hours, while enjoying a beautiful view over the park

Rowntree Park is cared for by a dedicated team of volunteers – the Friends of Rowntree Park, formed in 1996. There are often community events and lots of different fun activities on offer at the park, all year round – so check these out via the Friends of Rowntree Park website before you visit. 

Find out more about the facilities on offer, including how to book the tennis courts – and don’t forget, if you decide to visit Rowntree Park as a result of this article, please take a snap and let us know!

You can always tag us on @move.map on Instagram, or feel free to drop us an email: hello@movethemasses.org.uk 

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