Cheshire walk - Chester sightseeing circular route
PUBLISHED: 12:01 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 22 October 2019
A city walk that's best done at a gentle stroll, giving yourself time to appreciate the sights you may have been taking for granted.
What a photogenic city Chester is! The only problem is that every scene I frame in my viewfinder looks so familiar. No wonder, they have all been snapped a thousand times before and by better eyes than mine.
Yes, this three-mile walk is packed with Chester's best views: the racecourse and the Dee as seen from the Grosvenor Bridge, the ruddy Old Dee Bridge in all its 600-year-old glory, the weir on the Dee (a grade 1 listed building, no less), the elegant lines of the Queen's Park Bridge, the lately-refurbished Grosvenor Park and, of course, those city walls.
There are so many points of interest on this walk that you will stop over and over again. My particular favourite is the Water Tower on the city walls. It's a reminder that for 1,500 years, Chester was the region's most important seaport. Lucian the Monk of Chester wrote, around 1200: 'Our Chester has also, by the favour of God, a rich and graceful river beneath its walls, beautiful and abounding in fish, with a harbour on its south side for ships from Aquitaine, Spain, Ireland and Germany (to) come and unload at the city bay with many goods, so that, comforted in all ways by the grace of our God, we may drink wine more often and more plentifully.'
Lucian also wrote of a 'marvellous sea shore', covered and uncovered by the tides - a reference to the Roodee, which was then totally submerged at high tide.
Nature had other ideas, however, and the Dee gradually silted up. When the Water Tower was built in the 1320s, it stood in the river, and ships could tie up and unload their cargo here. A couple of centuries later, the Dee had retreated, and the tower stood, uselessly, on dry land.
1. This is a walk where I'm afraid there is little option but to pay for car parking. The Chester East Station car park is perhaps most convenient (Queen's Road CH1 3BQ). Exiting the car park, turn right, and, reaching City Road, turn left. At the end of the bridge over the canal, take the steps down to the towpath and, as you face The Old Harkers Arms, head right along the towpath. Keep to the towpath under bridges 123c, 123d and 123e, and the city walls come into view to the left. The handsome Phoenix Tower on your left is reputed to be the vantage point from which Charles I saw his army defeated by the Parliamentarians at the battle of Rowton Moor in 1645. Continue under bridge 123g, where the canal has sheer sandstone sides to it. But before reaching the next bridge, take steps on the left. Bear right up the next set of steps, heading for an arch in the wall ahead.
2. Through the arch, bear right and climb the steps up onto the city walls, then bear left along the wall. The walkway crosses the road, goes past the alcove called Pemberton's Parlour, crosses the railway and then reaches the Water Tower. Continue as the wall descends and you are walking on the pavement past The Queen's School. Soon after, fork right, back onto the wall over Watergate Street and back down to the pavement, passing Chester Racecourse on the right and The Architect pub on the left.
3. Reaching Grosvenor Road, cross over and turn right up the pavement. You soon find yourself on the Grosvenor Bridge over the River Dee. Just beyond the end of the bridge, turn left through the gates to Overleigh Cemetery, following the path downhill, then bearing left at the big tree towards an exit gate. The gate brings you to River Lane. Go left, and at the bottom of the lane, bear right along a smooth tarmac path. When you reach cobbles, cross over to enter Edgar's Field Park, taking the path on the left. You soon see the Old Dee Bridge. The path emerges at Handbridge. Cross over the road and continue along the path on the same side of the river.
4. After passing the weir, you reach the Queen's Park Bridge. Head right up the steps to reach the bridge and cross over the Dee. At the other side, head sharp left then right along the road parallel with the river until you reach a mini-roundabout. Go right here, up Souter's Lane. At the top, bear right, taking the walkway above the Roman Amphitheatre and on past the Parish Church. After passing the ruins of the original St John's Church, follow the path to the right, then go left through the gates into Grosvenor Park.
5. Follow signs through the park to the Lodge Cafe - a large black and white building - and take the exit beside it. Keep ahead on the right hand pavement of Union Street, past the Wood, Chester restaurant, and follow the road round to the right. At the next pedestrian crossing, cross over and just a few yards to your right is Russell Street. Go up here to reach the canal, and The Old Harkers Arms, again. Go up the steps to City Road and turn right to retrace your steps to the car park.
Area of Walk: Chester City Centre
Distance: 3 miles
Time to allow: 2 hours (with time to stop at points of interest)
Map: OS Explorer 266
Refreshments: The Old Harkers Arms, 1 Russell Street, Chester CH3 5AL; Wood, Chester, Hotel Indigo, Grosvenor Park Road, CH1 1QQ