Chester is a place I like to dip in and out of. It’s not too far away making it an easy journey by rail from one of my local stations.
It’s a city steeped in history, from Roman times onwards to the present day. Each time I go I find another corner, another architectural detail that somehow I had missed before.
To keep things a little bit fresh I took a different route into the city from the railway station. Up Brook Street as usual but then down onto the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal. The canal wraps itself around this part of Chester as it makes it’s way out to meet the River Dee by the Water Tower which once guarded the medieval harbour. Thanks to the river’s habit of silting up and/or changing it’s course, the tower now stands some distance form the river it once protected.
On this trip it was a Bank Holiday weekend, once these would be occasions when towns and cities fell quiet but with the increase in tourism and leisure time, the last few years have seen more and more events, both large and small taking place. A floating market was in progress for the weekend. Narrow boats lined the towpath along Canal Side by the Lock Keeper pub and at the entrance to the deep sandstone cutting through which the canal flows on the last leg of it’s journey to connect with the Dee.
The racing was on in Chester on this weekend as well, so that added an extra layer of jollity and fun to the day, with streams of people passing through the railway station with their party dials turned up to eleven. The racecourse, known as the Roodee is just off the city centre, under the shadow of the city’s famous walls. Once the site was the harbour on the River Dee for the Roman settlement but over time it too silted up as the river’s channel moved. It was this continual process of silting that finally lead to Liverpool gaining it’s supremacy as the area’s trading port. From the City walls along Nuns Road a good view is to be had of the racecourse, with a soundtrack of excited ‘oohs’ and pained ‘ahhs’ as winners and losers celebrate or commiserate down by the winning post.
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