On we went to Chester, Ian’s hometown – an important Roman fort, a Cathedral city in medieval days, and a bustling, modern shopping and tourism centre today. There’s a LOT to see, of course, from various eras, but the two main features are the Roman city walls (the only ones in Britain that are still complete) and the beautiful Medieval streets of the centre.
We stayed at the charmingly old-fashioned Belgrave Hotel right opposite the station; a nice, big, comfortable room, and a very impressive staircase!
The first sight, and one of the most magical ones, that my sweetheart showed me from the town where he’d grown up was the Canal. Part of the old Shropshire Union Canal that had originally been built for transport in the early days of the Industrial Revolution (but it soon became obsolete when the railway was built), it’s used nowadays for recreational boat trips – and what a beautiful sight! Like a bit of countryside right in the middle of the city…
There are four gates in the ancient walls: Northgate, Eastgate, Watergate (West) and Bridgegate (South). We started out at Northgate, and then had a walk around ON the walls! Not only can you walk all around the city on them, but you can also find little shops and tea houses up there. And King Charles Tower, on the northeastern corner of the walls, is from where Charles I supposedly watched the Battle of Rowton Moor in 1645 during the English Civil War – he lost, and shortly after he fled to Wales, and the city which had been on the king’s side was left to the mercy of the Parliamentarians.
Eastgate is the most famous gate – because of the elaborate clock on top of it which was put there in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. You also get a great view from there over Chester’s shopping mile, which is now a pedestrian area!
Another very distinctive and beautiful feature of the city centre are the Rows: two-storey shopping arcades accessible by steps and decorated with flower arrangements and old shop signs. It’s fun shopping there, and it’s even more fun sitting in a café or a pub among the Cestrians!
After our long walk, we had a lovely dinner in a little Chinese restaurant – and an early night before the next part of our Chester sightseeing tour…