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Chester - A travel report by Terry
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Chester,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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terje's travel reports

Walking on the roman wall

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When I told my britisk colleague I was planning to visit Chester, she told me that there are not many places like this in Britain, and compared Chester with cities like York and Bath. This encouraged me to continue planning, and now I am happy I did!

Chester Town Hall
Chester Town Hall
There are several reason why I wanted to see Chester in the first place. One of them is my former visit to the oldest pub in London, Yee Old Cheshire Cheese, which is found close to Fleet Street in a back alley. I have always wanted to see Cheshire after this, and when I discovered that this was within reach, I went for it.

Chester is the county town of Cheshire county in North West England, close to the border of Wales. In 79AD, the town was founded by the romans and given the name Deva Vitrix, sometimes translated to The Legion on river Dee. The old city center, with the most complete city walls in England, is surrounded by either the Dee river or the Shropshire Navigation Canal.

The roman walls was another reason for me wanting to see the city, and I discovered the possibility to walk all the way around the city, on top of the walls. This is a walk of about 3 kilometer, and you see everything that is worth seeing on your way. A very detailed and good guide to the walk of the wall is found on this page:

The third reason for me to visit Chester, is that it is one one the places I could follow in HV Mortons footsteps. He describes his visit to Chester in his book The search of England, a book that I proudly have in my bookshelf!

Well now, how did I get there? I were on a business trip to Bolton, and on my way down to the Glouchester area, I decided to drive along the welsh border, starting in Chester and include Shrewsbury and Worchester on the way. I came with a rental car, and found free spaces on the public carpark only a stonethrow away from the cathedral. (I actually spotted my car from my walk on the walls...)

Favourite spots:
Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral
I entered through the city walls in the quiet backyard of the cathedral. There has been people worshipping here for thousands of years, starting with an ancient druid temple, then a tempel for the roman god Apollo. The building we see today dates back to 1093, when a benedictian monastery was established. In 1541 St. Werburgh Abbey was named Cathedral of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cathedral is built in New Red Limestone, which is easy carved, but in vulnerable to wind, rain and pollution.

After photographing the cathedral from all sides, I went up Northgate street and climbed on top of the Northgate itself, before I started walking clockwise around the city walls. This first stretch is where the canal flows below you. I considered jumping in the water, but the height and the brown color effectively stopped me.

The first sight on this walk is King Charles Tower (also known as Phoenix tower) where the king watched his own army's defeat on Rowton Moor, 24. Sept. 1645.

What's really great:
Eastgate with the clock
Eastgate with the clock
I then passed over the gate where I entered the city, Kaleyard gate, before I got a magnificent view of the cathedral and the park with blooming trees and roses.

Eastgate is probably the most photographed gate of Chester, much of this because of the clock that stands on top of it. The Eastgate clock is said to be the most photographed clock in Britain after Big Ben. The clock is the result of the city of Chester's fund to celebrate Queen Victoria's 60 years on the throne in 1897.

The present Eastgate was completed in 1769, replacing a massive medeival construction with a tower and many rooms on top.

I discovered that Eastgate street also had a roman name, Via Principalis, as this is excactly where the main road of the roman fortress once was found. I read later that Chester is the only british city where all streets have a british AND a roman name.

From Eastgate I strolled around in The Rows, a typical gallery type of shops dating back to the medeival times.

Chester Roman Amphitheatre
Chester Roman Amphitheatre
Other sights I visited in Chester includes the roman amphitheatre, the largest in Britain, which presently is under excavation. When I walked by, a class of young students stood there with their roman armour on listening to a enthisiastic teacher dressed as a legionaire.

From the amphitheatre and Newgate, a small road leads down to the river Dee, where I found several opportunities to go boating, eiher with a sightseeing and restaurant boat, or rent a plastic boat with pedals (where I most certainly would have been completely soaked).

The promenade along the river is called The Grove, a really beautiful place. A little bit early in the tourist season, but the ice-cream kiosks were up running perfectly.

Eastgate street with Grosvenor Hotel and Spa on the left
Eastgate street with Grosvenor Hotel and Spa on the left
At an early stage on my trip planning, I considered a hotel in Chester. But as this would have been to much driving in the morning, I didnt not sleep over.

The family owned Grosvenor Hotel and Spa was my first choice. The hotel is situated directly inside Eastgate, and is named after the Duke of Westminster who owns a lot of land around Chester, among them Eaton Hall, where a copy of the Big Ben clocktower is raised... (remember the parliament is located in Westminster Palace).

The homepage of this hotel is found at:

Besides this, several of the well known chaines are established in Chester.

Other recommendations:
River Dee
River Dee
After my visit to a new favourite town of mine, I went back to the car and started my welsh border trip down to Shrewsbury.

Published on Wednesday June 11th, 2008

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