Cheshire Walk - Chester
PUBLISHED: 19:15 10 February 2016
One walk, two countries..that is the order of the day for this riverside ramble from Chester, writes Howard Bradbury
Perhaps it’s childish of me, but crossing a border into another country always seems like a little event. So one reason this month’s walk appeals to me is that it takes you across the border from England into Wales and back again.
This stroll is also one that is full of variety. It begins on the edge of Chester city centre, in view of the castle and with the shopping streets just a few minutes walk away, but it very soon takes you, via the racecourse, to the suburbs and thence back to the river and over that border, traversing a fairly unprepossessing stretch of industrial hinterland.
The river regained, you enjoy wide open spaces, a bit of nature, probably a gusty wind, some interesting air traffic and then a return to the city.
The other great thing about this walk is that it doesn’t actually need to be a walk. It’s all pretty flat, part of the route is along a cycle path, and much of the rest of it is on good surfaces, so you could easily do this as a cycle ride, but with one proviso: you must be able to manhandle your bike through a staggered opening in a tall metal fence. There are two of them on this walk, and you will need to stand your bike up on its back wheel and wiggle it through.
Another important warning: before you set out, check the Chester race calendar. You will not be able to take this route on race days as the gates across the archway leading from the Little Roodee will be shut.
1. The walk begins at the Little Roodee car park in Grosvenor Rd, Chester CH1 1SL, where you get three hours parking for £4 - enough time for the walk, and more than enough to cycle it. That strange word ‘roodee’, by the way, is derived from Rood Eye or Eg, meaning the island or meadow of the cross, from the days when a medieval cross marked the boundary between parishes.
Walk towards the river and bear right along the tarmac path and through the archway of the impressive sandstone bridge.
2. Follow the raised pathway with the racecourse to your right and the river to your left until you reach the rail bridge, where you turn left up the steps and take the footbridge over the river. You will emerge at a T-junction with a lane. Go left, passing the turning to Curzon Close and, at the T-junction where Curzon Park North and Earlsway meet, bear right along Earlsway. Stay on this road for quite some time until you see a bus stop, after which you turn right into Mount Pleasant, then right again a few yards later down a path beside an electricity sub-station. Pass under the rail bridge and through the gap in the high metal fencing and keep following the shrub-lined path until you emerge at the river.
3. Turn left along the bank on a path which a short time later goes away from the river, along the line of a metal fence. Take the staggered opening in the fence, cross the road, River Lane, and turn right along the pavement. There are two ways to regard the next few minutes of this walk, either as a boring trudge through a bleak semi-industrial environment of electrical wholesalers, garages and the like, or as a stroll through bloke heaven. Personally, I love this kind of busy, industrious district as it reminds me that Britain is still capable of doing that for which it was once famous: making and fixing things.
Eventually, you will reach a huge Go Outdoors store on your left.
4. Straight ahead you will see the tarmac cycle path beside the river. Head along it, with the river on your right. After a few minutes along this arrow-straight path, you come to a footbridge over the Dee. Cross here and at the end of the bridge, turn right, almost back on yourself, following signs for Cycle Path 568 towards Chester.
From here, it’s very difficult to go wrong, as we follow the line of the Dee pretty much all the way back to the Little Roodee. The first stretch is a long, straight path, during which you can keep your mind occupied looking out for birdlife, or perhaps the comings and goings from nearby Hawarden Airport. On my walk, I saw an Airbus Beluga come in to land - a plane so bulbous that it can swallow the fuselages of other planes whole in its cavernous cargo hold.
5. The river kinks to the left twice, and at the second turn - heralded by two engraved granite posts - we arrive back in England. After another long straight stretch, you see Sealand Road ahead. Bear right, following the path beside the river, but this will bring you just a few yards later to Sealand Road. Go right, following the signs for Cycle Route 568, and just a few yards later, turn right through a black and white metal archway to reach a riverside path. Bear left and follow this path and boardwalk which, a sign soon informs you, is the Riverside Promenade Trail. Pass beneath the rail bridge, turn right and you are on the path beside the race course leading back to the Little Roodee.
Area of Walk: Chester
Distance: 5½ miles
Time to allow: 2½ hours
Map: OS Explorer 266.
Refreshments: Abode, Grosvenor Road, Chester CH1 2DJ; The Architect, 54 Nicholas Street, Chester CH1 2NX; Kim’s Kabin Cafe, River Lane, Saltney, Chester CH4 8RH.