Following on from my article about may stay at the iconic Queen Hotel, what of the Roman city of Chester itself?
I visited on an overcast day, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the my few hours there at all. So much so that I am arranging to take Mrs Wilbur there between Christmas & New Year.
By virtue of its Roman origins, Chester is proudly flanked by its city walls and entry gates built in 70-80 AD. I took a stroll along part of the walls, past the motte & bailey castle and down to Bridgegate. There was a palpable sense of following in historic footsteps, oft since trodden by legions of tourists of course. I will do more of the wall when I return.
The wall path brought me down to the scenic River Dee & Bridgegate, now passed through by motor horse power rather than by horse power alone.
I skipped the Roman Amphitheatre to save for next time (couldn’t find it and as I am a bloke I refused to ask for directions!) and headed instead to the cathedral, which was indeed a splendid affair, founded as a Benedictine abbey in 1092 and later rebuilt as a gothic cathedral from 1250.
I had arrived on a special day by chance, Chester University was holding its graduation ceremony that day and as well as presenting the bright young things with their certificates, they were also bestowing an honorary degree to Olympic & Tour de France medal winning cyclist Mark Cavendish.
This made part of the cathedral out of bounds during my visit – I will rectify this next time.
The best part of Chester is just strolling about the historic centre. The higgledy piggledy tudor buildings, the interesting shops, the independent restaurants & cafes, the canal linking Chester with Nantwich, the atmospheric pubs, in a similar way to Winchester, York & Stratford-upon-Avon, this is the main pleasure of the city, even more so than the variety of museums, exhibitions and cultural events on offer.
All in all I would give Chester a huge thumbs up as a city break destination.