You know the feeling. It’s 7.30am, the street outside is covered in thick snow and your phone bleeps announce the office or school is closed. Instead of bunkering down with the duvet and kettle, why not take the chance to enjoy a snow day outdoors? On days like these, we heartily recommend bundling you and yours up in warm layers and taking everyone down for a walk along your local waterway, with the promise of hot chocolate at the end of the day*. In the North West, Chester makes an excellent destination – it’s easy to reach, there are memorable sights, the countryside isn’t far away and there are plenty of places to warm up when toes start to go numb.
Chester’s waterways are centred on Chester basin, where the River Dee meets the Shropshire Union Canal. Chester’s canal history is somewhat complex, but it all began with the Chester Canal, which connected the Dee to Nantwich in 1770s but proved to be a rare failure. This was later revived when the Ellesmore Canal was built and the canal was then absorbed into the Shropshire Union Canal in 1846. After a slow start, and sticky 20th century, the Chester canal system is now thriving.
To get a flavour of it all, we recommend a four-mile circular walk round Chester. Start at the City Road Bridge and head west into the town centre where you can see the first part of Chester’s famous city walls in the form of the Phoenix Tower. Continue past the Bridge of Sighs, a narrow crossing where prisoners once received their last rites before execution at Northgate Gaol, and the Northgate locks. Head north towards Taylor’s Boatyard and then head left at the dry dock to follow the Dee Branch down to the river lock. Head left again at New Crane Street towards the River Dee, where you’ll pass a couple more fine bridges and a weir on your back to the centre via the city walls. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants throughout the walk, so you’ll get your chance to fulfil that promise of a hot chocolate.
If you have children in tow, download your guide to Chester from our website.
*If however it’s looking too treacherous outside, don’t risk it, save this walk for another day – you won’t be disappointed!