Chester – A Winter Break
Each December I return to U.K for Christmas. This year I visited Chester. I do love Winter Breaks in the UK. After visiting family and friends I spend a few days getting to know other places in the U.K.
Cambridge & Brighton are two destinations I still want to visit. Recently London, Bath, Bristol, Leeds and York have been included in my travels. All easily accessed via International airports making an easy trip back to Andalusia. I can choose from plenty of flights into Malaga.
Here are some tips I gleaned for this visit if you get chance to go:
The City Walls
Walk the circuit along on the Roman walls. These walls and towers were built by the Romans between 70 and 80 AD. This route is 3.2km or 2 miles. You get an elevated view of the city and the surrounding countryside. The walls mark the boundary of Medieval Chester and are the most complete Roman wall structure in Britain. You will find many other Roman Ruins to visit in Britain, but to see something so intact that´s so old is impressive.
Access the route from different points along the city wall. We started our walk round the walls from the Eastgate clock tower. Get up onto the wall by climbing the steps on one side of the clock tower gate. Some parts of the circuit are at ground level (near to Chester University + castle) but the route is clearly signposted. Keep the old wall in sight if you don´t see the signposts, that way you will not get lost. It is a great vantage point to take photos and you can even see the hills of Wales along some points of the walk.
Boutique Shops in Chester
Along the wall I stopped off at a gift shop. Pemberleys of Chester. This cosy little shop had lots of gift items, locally made products such as jewellery and fudge. I bought a few Christmas presents and a furry warm hat. It was pretty cold on that December morning up on the walls.
Please be careful along the walls as they are uneven. With ice and rain they can be very slippery. The walls are quite low too, sometimes you need to grab the hand rail to avoid falling. The city of Chester try to maintain the walls as well as they can.
Afternoon Tea in Chester
Something I didn’t get chance to do but had planned was Afternoon Tea. This is something of a tradition when I visit England. This year the delayed train up to Chester (snow and a tree on the line!) scuppered my plans slightly.
I would have taken tea at The Grovesnor Hotel or possibly in Katie´s Tea Rooms in The Rows. Scones, macaroons, finger sandwiches. Glorious. Both are firmly on the list for another time.
Another reason I love returning to U.K is for the shopping.
In Chester city centre you will come across The Rows. This charming area of town is a two tiered medieval shopping area with shops on the ground floor and on the upper floor. You will also come across the Grosvenor Shopping Centre nearby which has many high street stores inside.
The main market is Chester Market which is right next to the town hall on Princess Street. Chester also has the largest shopping outlet in the UK, Cheshire Oaks. This is a short drive away and connected by public transport.
Chester Zoo was another attraction high on my list but couldn’t make it. With only 48 hours in Chester my planning didn’t allow time for a visit. They have more than 11,000 animals and 400 different species and has been running since 1931. It is one of the best Zoos in Europe.
On the site of Chester Cathedral there has been a church for the last 1000 years. This Cathedral was built from local sandstone. The cloisters date from the 12th and 13th centuries and are some of the best preserved in the Britain. The Cathedral has lots of beautiful stained glass windows throughout the building. The wooden carvings in the choir stalls are also worthy of a mention.
The Refectory Café inside the Cathedral is a great place to stop off for coffee. This is set in the Refectory when the building was a Benedictine abbey. So the setting of the Monks lunch is now a present day café. Entry is free but a donation of 3 pounds is suggested to keep up the conservation of the Cathedral.
Chester Boat Cruise
Boat outings run along the River Dee from June to September. River cruises in Summertime. The cruise runs upstream to the Iron Bridge at the Duke of Westminster’s estate. When we visited in December we did see a few brave people on canoes while we enjoyed a fresh riverside walk.
Chester is the oldest racecourse in Britain. The first horse that rode along this stretch of land was in 1539. Races were traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday here until 1609 when the date was changed to April 23rd St Georges. The scale of the track impressed me as it came into view while I walked the City Walls.
Chester Roman Amphitheatre was built in the first century. At that time Chester was known as Deva. The amphitheatre was in use up until the year 350. Here´s a video with more details about the monument:
My hotel was located in front of the Amphitheatre. I stayed at the Travelodge Chester Central. I chose the hotel for its location, right in the historic centre. There are lots of bars and restaurants nearby. The hotel is simple but comfortable. Staff were very helpful over my 2 night stay (Dec 2014)
St Johns Ruins
St Johns Ruins are the remains of a Norman and Medieval Church. They are next to the current church of St John the Baptist. This ruined building was the first Cathedral in the city, in use from 1075 until 1541.
Believed to be a Celtic Church was already on this site in 689 AD (or even before then)
Apart from the impressive age of the St John´s Ruin the 14th century coffin set high up in the wall caught my imagination. The genuine solid oak coffin inscribed ´Dust to Dust´ was put there in 1813. The coffin came from the disused graveyard. It was put up there to fill a gap in the unstable structure. Putting it there also keeps it out of the way of people walking through the graveyard.
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