The Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau sponsors Inner City Walking Tours, June to September Monday to Friday. Tours depart the Tourist Information Centre (44 Foyle St.) at 10:30am and 2:30pm; tickets are £4 adults, £3 seniors and children. Alternatively, Martin McCrossan's colorful City Tours (028/7127-1996; www.derrycitytours.com) group offers informative walking tours year-round. Tours set out from 11 Carlisle Rd. daily at 10am, noon, and 2pm, but call ahead to book a place. The cost is £4 adults.
Finally, if you're tired of walking, Martin McGowan will take you by horse-drawn carriage through the old city and unravel its history as you go. Excursions cost around £35 for 90 minutes. Call Charabanc Tours (028/7127-1886) for details and reservations from May to October.
Climbing the Walls That Circle Derry
One of the best ways to explore Derry is via its 17th-century stone walls, about 1 mile (1.6km) in circumference and more than 5m (16 feet) thick. Climb the stairs to the top and you can circle the entire walled city in about 30 minutes. Stairways off of the parapets are frequent, so you’ll never get stuck up there. If you start at the Diamond, as the square in the center of the walled section is called, walk down Butcher Street to climb the steps at Butcher’s Gate, a security checkpoint between the Bogside and the city during the Troubles. Walk to the right across Castle Gate, built in 1865, and on to Magazine Gate, which was once near a powder magazine. Shortly afterward, you’ll pass O’Doherty’s Tower, which houses the worthwhile Tower Museum. From there you can see the brick walls of the Guildhall.
Farther along, you’ll pass Shipquay Gate, once located very near the port, back when the waters passed closer to the town center. The walls turn uphill from there, past the Millennium Forum concert hall, and up to Ferryquay Gate. Here in 1688, local apprentice boys saved the town from attacking Catholic forces by locking the city gates—thus saving the town from attack, but launching the Great Siege of Derry, which lasted for months. (By the time it ended, nearly a quarter of the town’s population had died.)
Next you’ll pass Bishop’s Gate, where a tall brick tower just outside the gate is all that remains of the Old Gaol. The rebel Wolfe Tone was imprisoned here after the unsuccessful uprising in 1798. Farther along, the Double Bastion holds a military tower with elaborate equipment used to keep an eye on the Bogside—it’s usually splashed with paint hurled at it by Republicans. From there you can easily access the serene churchyard of St. Columb’s Cathedral. From the next stretch of wall, you have a good view over the political murals of the Bogside down the hill.
A bit farther along the wall, an empty plinth stands where once there was a statue of Rev. George Walker, a governor of the city during the siege of 1689. It was blown up by the IRA in 1973. The small chapel nearby is the Chapel of St. Augustine (1872), and the building across the street from it with metal grates over the windows is the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall, commemorating the boys from the Great Siege of Derry. Walk but a short way farther, and you’re back to Butcher’s Gate.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.