A short tour of the historic parts of Coventry.
Distance 3 miles (4.8km)
Minimum time 1hr 30min
Ascent/gradient 16ft (5m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Street pavements, no stiles
Landscape Historic Coventry
Suggested map AA Street by Street West Midlands
Start/finish SP 336789
Dog friendliness On lead at all times
Parking Any park-and-ride car park, then travel into city by bus
Public toilets Library Building in Smithford Way
1 From the tourist information office by Coventry University in Priory Street, go left (southwards) to reach Earl Street, then left along Earl Street and into Jordan Well. Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing and head right, down Whitefriars Street. At the bottom of the street, go right along Whitefriars Lane, passing beneath the Whitefriars Gateway (remains of a Carmelite Friary founded in 1342) into Park Street. Go right along Park Street, then left along St John's Street to Little Park Street, with the police station, probation service offices and the magistrates courts on the corner.
2 Go right along Little Park Street and then left over the pedestrian crossing in front of the impressive Council House, built between 1913 and 1917 in Tudor style - note the corner clock and the statues of Godiva, Leofric and Justice. Head left along the High Street, past the Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre to the 1949 Lady Godiva statue, by Sir William Reid Dick.
3 When you have seen the statue, walk back towards the High Street and go right down Greyfriars Lane opposite. Just after you pass by Salt Lane is Ford's Hospital. Continue along Greyfriars Lane and take the pathway to the right of the impressive 230ft (70m) Greyfriars Spire, all that remains of the 14th-century Church of Christ Church, to arrive in New Union Street. Cross the street and go through the archway to see Cheylesmore Manor (the gatehouse is all that remains of the Manor of the Earl of Chester), until you come to Manor House Drive. Go right and when you get near to the road corner, go right again down a 'no entry' road which takes you to Warwick Row and the Quadrant. Cross Warwick Row and head down into Shelton Square. Bear right and continue along Market Way into the centre of the main shopping area.
4 By the central fountain, go left into the Lower Precinct passing by a number of large, high street stores. At the traffic island by St John's Church, cross the road and head down Spon Street, a fascinating street of medieval buildings. At the end do not attempt to go over the Ringway but retrace your steps to the traffic island by St John's Church. Go left just before the church and stroll past the buildings of Old Bablake School, which was founded in 1560 for the education of poor boys of Coventry, and into Hill Street. Bear right along Bond Street and cross over Lamb Street on to a footpath that leads towards the Canal Basin. Cross the footbridge over the Ringway to visit the Basin which has been carefully renovated and displays a Y-shaped terminus, canal warehouses, coal vaults and a fine canal house.
5 Retrace your steps over the footbridge and walk down Bishop Street. Go left along Tower Street then right down Cook Street past the Museum of British Road Transport, with the UK's largest display of British-made vehicles. After going beneath 15th-century Cook Street Gateway turn right and stroll through Lady Herbert's Garden to reach Hales Street by the Swanswell (Priory) Gate. This 15th-century gate was probably a private access into St Mary's Priory. Go right along Hales Street until you reach a road junction, then go left up The Burges. Bear left around Ironmonger Row and cross the road. Go right and then left into Priory Row and proceed down between the New and the Old Cathedrals. After visiting the New Cathedral, cross over into the Old Cathedral which was devastated by bombs in 1940 and walk back through the damaged building up to Cuckoo Lane. Go left along the lane, then left down Bayley Lane. St Mary's Guildhall is on the right. You will find the tourist information office at the bottom corner.
Coventry may not a name that inspires a longing to visit and explore - modern redevelopment and industry are mainly what it is known for today. However, it's historic core is well worth a visit, and this walk guides you around the best parts, including the stunning New Cathedral, sitting alongside the ruins of the Old Cathedral, irrevocably damaged by bombing in 1940. Officially called St Michael's Cathedral, the new building caused quite a stir when it was consecrated in 1962 for its then ultra modern - and still quite revolutionary - design by Sir Basil Spence. The bombing of Coventry' during World War Two also damaged the magnificent Ford's Hospital almshouses, but they were restored in 1953.
Along the walk there are other fine old buildings, including the early 14th-century St Mary's Guildhall, still boasting one of the finest great halls in England. There are also reminders of local heroine, Lady Godiva, who overcame her intense modesty to ride naked through the town as a means of (successfully) persuading her husband to decrease taxation on the poor. The event is commemorated (and re-created) every year.
Coventry is a city undergoing a lot of redevelopment but the old historic parts are being preserved. Obtain a street guide/map from the tourist information office before you begin your walk and this will help you enjoy your visit. There is also a very helpful booklet explaining the detailed history of each building you will pass by or visit.
Visit Coventry's cathedrals. Located close to one another it is interesting to see the Old Cathedral which was so badly damaged during World War Two and to compare it with the New Cathedral. Inside the latter you'll find a simply stunning tapestry, by Graham Sutherland, above the altar.
There are plenty of places to eat in Coventry, offering a very wide variety of food. The route of this city walk takes you past several of the finest pubs in the city. The Old Windmill and the Shakespeare in Spon Street, the Town Wall Tavern in Bond Street, the Tudor Rose in The Burges and the Golden Cross in Hay Lane. Light refreshments are also available in the New Cathedral.