A tramp round historic Chester
Chester to Christleton: 2.5 miles, 8 locks
A guided walk – with a tour guide? It seemed like a good idea and indeed it was. At 1030 the little group of UK nationals (and one visitor from Minnesota) congregated outside Chester’s Town Hall for a 90 minute stroll plus commentary around the city.
In a place like Chester it helps to have some idea of historical era: the city has developed via contributions made by the Romans, Saxons, various medieval kings; there were references to Edward 1 and his castle-building, jibes about the Welsh, stories of Charles 1 and his escape from the Parliamentarians, the Victorian enthusiasm for adding Tudor-look facades… and Chester even had a brief Viking presence too…
Just round the corner from the Town Hall are the excavated remains of the Roman strong room. Later there was the Roman Garden (not authentically sited but a pleasant arrangement of Chester’s Roman stonework).
Also glimpsed during the tour was the Roman Amphitheatre, discovered in the 1970s during a road-building scheme. Today (photographed from the city walls) a Roman gladiator was coaching children in Roman ways.
Chester’s street plan still follows the original Roman layout. Over the centuries the street level has risen by about six feet, but some shops still are sited on the earlier level (hence the clamber down steps into Cath Kidston’s yesterday! )
Chester is famed for its Rows,
the upper galleries along the shopping streets, which allow undercover walking and which still have shops on them.
A street name provides evidence of Viking visits:
You can stand and gaze at the impressive weir on the River Dee.
Not long after viewing it a Beluga aircraft flew over, transporting wings of the Airbus made near Wrexham which are then transferred to Toulouse for final assembly. The largest aircraft wings (for the A380), too large to go by air, are floated downstream on the Dee by barge and then delivered by sea to a Mediterranean port – so the River Dee’s long history as an important transport route lives on.
The tour of course pulled in the Eastgate Clock (the second most photographed clock after Big Ben)
and Chester Cathedral, before finishing in front of – Janya,
today’s model elephant, a reference to Chester’s famous zoo and its Asian elephants. `
Beat the weather became the next mission; after fresh food shopping in the covered market there was a hasty retreat to the boat to start the 8 lock retreat from Chester. The Northgate three lock staircase drew a small crowd; by the time Cleddau reached the top lock a new theatre studies graduate had taken over paddle-winding, her family and another dealt with the gates
while Boatwif fielded questions and delivered an impromptu history of the canals lecture…
Three down, five to go: on round past the ancient city walls and under the Bridge of Sighs…
Another boat shared locks 5 to 8, the rain arrived at 4 o’clock, an open umbrella was spotted at 4.15 and later the Cleddaucrew queued to eat at a Harvester pub where, post bank holiday, 16 items on the menu were “off”, replenishments expected tomorrow…
On balance though, it was a good sort of day!
Tomorrow, on towards Barbridge Junction.