Chester: River Dee - Earl's Eye - Walls - Racecourse - Canal

5656 G-map route  Picasa 

Distance 11Km
Walk type Moderate
Region Northwest England
Time 210mins
Height 100m
Maps Explorer 266: Wirral & Chester
Landranger 117: Chester & Wrexham, Ellesmere Port
Contributor Andy Hibbert
Additional photos 

general photo
Short Description:
A circular walk from Chester railway station taking in the River Dee, Earl's Eye meadows, the Roodee (Chester racecourse) & the old port area, using newly landscaped river pathways and parts of the old Roman walls.

Long Description:
This is a walk round Chester with a difference. Like my other urban walks (around Liverpool) it seeks to show architecture, views, that are not part of the normal overcrowded tourist offerings. You will have fine views of the city skyline, the Welsh hills and many splendid buildings along the River Dee as it loops around the city. The internet is full to bursting with variations on the same 'essential' sites to visit and this walk assumes you have either seen them or plan to another day… This is a walk to enjoy on a sunny day, stretching your legs - it's slightly over 7 miles - and treating your eyes to some lesser-known treasures.

Walk Access:
The full walk starts at Chester railway station. There is a complimentary free bus service to & from the city centre - a less than 10-minute walk anyway - and Chester is served by mainline services as well as local trains from Liverpool.

Additional Info:
A newly landscaped path around the racecourse is closed during race meetings. The alternate route passes the city side of the course whilst still avoiding the perennially overcrowded centre. This route is about 0.8mile shorter.

Cafe - Castle - Church - Good for Kids - Good for Wheelchairs - Great Views - Industrial Archaeology - Mostly Flat - Museum - Pub - Public Transport - Restaurant - River - Tea Shop - Toilets

Chester Races:
Old Chester information:


Latitude: 53.19647292738506
Longitude: -2.8802311420440674
With Chester station behind you, cross the small square & continue straight along City Road, between the Town Crier and the Queen Hotel.

Latitude: 53.19567592797858
Longitude: -2.8807514905929565
At the end of the Queen Hotel is an ornately figured iron gate, behind which sit some 'antiquities' in a pretty little garden.
On your right, passed the Westminster Hotel is the intricately painted façade of Kinnaird House, dated 1899.

Latitude: 53.19394047478685
Longitude: -2.8813308477401733
City Road rises imperceptibly, approaching the canal. As the buildings end you are treated to a fine view of the Steam Mill, now home to several businesses, including Chester Film Club.

Latitude: 53.19352588390621
Longitude: -2.881464958190918
On the far side of the canal, a set of steps leads down, left, to the towpath.

Latitude: 53.193577306248734
Longitude: -2.8788846731185913
Continue along the canal, and shortly you will see the shot tower of Chester Leadworks, now (2010) being converted into luxury (is there any other kind?) apartments. Built in 1799, it is certainly the oldest surviving such structure in England, and as a grade II listed building, will not be demolished.

Latitude: 53.19368015074875
Longitude: -2.8748559951782226
Closing your view of the canal is the imposing 19th c. Boughton Water Tower, beyond a pair of lock gates just beyond the low Westminster Road bridge. Although it looks like a dead-end, continue on the towpath, under the road where…

Latitude: 53.193699434065046
Longitude: -2.8741425275802612
… a small path reveals itself leading up the new level at Chemistry Lock

Latitude: 53.19408831242574
Longitude: -2.86842942237854
We are going to be returning along the canal, back to City Road, after a short excursion past the next lock. The canal here is higher than surrounding land so, after passing the water tower the view north is clear over the roofs of suburban estates. A short distance further, just as the A51 rushes across the canal, is the Bridge Inn - CAMRA's 2009 'Pub of the Season'.

Latitude: 53.193577306248734
Longitude: -2.8783750534057617
Retrace back towards Chester, noting the fine warehouses on the left of the canal contrasting favourably (in these eyes) with the modern developments on the right. The last building before City Road is a pub/restaurant beneath offices. Climb the steps back up to City Road & turn left.

Latitude: 53.19264365973624
Longitude: -2.881934344768524
As you approach a ring road, stay on the left pavement & go down the pedestrian underpass. Keep straight, veering slightly left at the end, signed for Grosvenor Gardens & the river

Latitude: 53.19173570515977
Longitude: -2.8821462392807007
As you regain the street keep in the same direction, with St Werburgh's (architect Edward Kirby, built in the 1870s) on your right and, as the ring road sweeps right…

Latitude: 53.191073609346155
Longitude: -2.881738543510437
…the gates of Grosvenor Park straight ahead

Latitude: 53.18996795082641
Longitude: -2.8809821605682373
Either go straight ahead towards a statue of the Marquis of Westminster, or loop left around the miniature railway, arriving at the Lookout, with unobstructed views left over Earl's Eye meadows. Flanking most of the paths are large domes of neatly cut holly trees. Take the straight path left (with your back to the river) from the statue and exit the park.

Latitude: 53.18908726056002
Longitude: -2.8848659992218017
Cross the lane half right & enter the grounds of the 'Church on the Cliff', the grade-I listed John the Baptist's Church. It is considered by some to be the best example of 11th-12th century church architecture in Cheshire. The ruins you first see recall the Dissolution, but the body of the church to the west is still used.

Latitude: 53.18865976569799
Longitude: -2.885380983352661
The grounds of the church present a fine view of the footbridge you will shortly be crossing. Should you venture round the front of the church, you will be exposed to the full force of Chester's 'Heritage Industry', as Chester Amphitheatre is just across the road. Few of the hordes visible here bother to walk around to the river side, since they are not instructed to do so by their guides. Their loss is your gain: stay on the quiet side!

Latitude: 53.18868869405619
Longitude: -2.884785532951355
Leave the grounds as you came in, turning right downhill towards the river and Queens Park suspension bridge.

Latitude: 53.188113337488545
Longitude: -2.884340286254883
Enjoy the views both up- and downstream from the centre of the bridge…

Latitude: 53.187435113967474
Longitude: -2.883964776992798
… turning left down to the river's edge on the far side, and then right along the bank. You are walking beneath some large properties and one of the last has a small garden beneath a sandstone cliff.

Latitude: 53.18860833745748
Longitude: -2.88041353225708
You arrive at a kissing gate, beyond which that part of Queen's Park known as 'Earls Eye', the Meadows, opens up before you.

Latitude: 53.19032793580025 Longitude: -2.8773611783981323
At the end of a Georgian terrace, down at the water's edge, is a circular tower with glazed openings. I have no idea what it was originally for…

Latitude: 53.191147533172185 Longitude: -2.8741800785064697
The River Dee curves right and, as you pass (on the opposite bank) the grade II* listed St Paul's Church, Boughton, just before a row of severely pollarded trees…

Latitude: 53.19077148455834 Longitude: -2.8730589151382446
…path branches right. Take this to another kissing gate leaving the park into…

Latitude: 53.18840583816084 Longitude: -2.878793478012085
…Lower Park Road. Continue along here past a row of pollarded Limes. Amusingly, the last house on the left styles itself 'Polards'. "Two syllables… sounds like?"

Latitude: 53.18729689648391 Longitude: -2.8837984800338745
Continue ahead until you reach, once again, the footbridge over the Dee. This time approach the river down the left-hand side, turning left along the Dee...

Latitude: 53.18669902037713 Longitude: -2.886303663253784
...until you meet the weir, salmon leap and mill race with its restored water wheel, upstream of the Handbridge.

Latitude: 53.186152567182184 Longitude: -2.8869259357452393
It is entirely possible here to see a heron - quite unafraid of humans nearby - hunting for, and catching, eels. All you need is a little patience (with patience comes good luck…).

Latitude: 53.185120715985185 Longitude: -2.8881865739822388
Continue past the small houses on Mill Street, and turn right at Handbridge to cross the river.

Latitude: 53.18591148267664 Longitude: -2.8889644145965576
Traffic lights control one-way flow to & from Lower Bridge Street so it is possible to enjoy, albeit briefly, car-free moments on the bridge.

Latitude: 53.18580219058766 Longitude: -2.8897690773010254
Turn immediately left, before the walls, along Castle Drive.

Latitude: 53.185262155000764 Longitude: -2.891056537628174
Pass the unimpressive County Hall and look out, at the end, for a footpath on the right, leading up to the Roman wall again. Take this.

Latitude: 53.18485069475107 Longitude: -2.8931432962417603

You are now walking around the outside of the castle and, with the height gained, can see the Welsh hills.

Latitude: 53.185445382122836 Longitude: -2.8945595026016235
At the end of the this section of the walls you are met with the incredibly busy Grosvenor Road - the A483 to Wrexham. The walk continues to your left, unless the racecourse path is closed for a meeting, in which case you cross straight ahead toWP55

Latitude: 53.185445382122836 Longitude: -2.8945595026016235
At the end of the wall cross to your left and descend the steps to a large carpark. Pass in front of the Roodee Café and make for the river.

Latitude: 53.18402133318752 Longitude: -2.895492911338806
Turn right, passing under the Grosvenor Bridge to join the Riverside Promenade Trail, passing a…

Latitude: 53.183992401680705 Longitude: -2.896195650100708
…sign board showing details of the route.

Latitude: 53.18433636388751 Longitude: -2.9023271799087524
Continue around the outside of the race course with the Dee on your left and fine views of the city across the track on your right.

Latitude: 53.18650615533875 Longitude: -2.903984785079956
You approach a railway viaduct and, ignoring the cycle network path up the wooden steps...

Latitude: 53.18701403140782 Longitude: -2.9040759801864624
...carry on under the railway arch and turn right on the banks of the River Dee.

Latitude: 53.18898119080383 Longitude: -2.90289044380188
Continue along (what will be) a quiet stretch of the Dee once the current development has been finished.

Latitude: 53.19112503462995 Longitude: -2.9025524854660034
As you approach Chester Old Port the path skirts outside some older buildings on pilings.

Latitude: 53.19225958926187 Longitude: -2.9022574424743652
It returns to land in front of another new development and you turn right, just before the last building.

Latitude: 53.192568131504665 Longitude: -2.9016727209091187
Cross New Crane Street diagonally left to join the towpath.

Latitude: 53.19309843329675 Longitude: -2.899838089942932
Cross left and follow the canal around 'Old Port Square' to the next lock.

Latitude: 53.193151463115186 Longitude: -2.8997737169265747
Cross the canal here (careful! No hand rail…) & turn left under the bridge.

Latitude: 53.193345905221655 Longitude: -2.899636924266815
Immediately on your right is a set of stone steps leading up to the main canal basin. Take these.

Latitude: 53.19396457878449 Longitude: -2.8996476531028747
Eventually the walk will continue north from here along the canal, returning to Chester along a section of old railway line. Currently (Summer 2010) there is major restoration work on a section of the path and you are forced to detour along busy roads. So we will turn right here along the canal, but not before a short extension north to cross an unusual bridge, visible to the right of the roofed picnic area ahead on your left.

Latitude: 53.1945414637513 Longitude: -2.899690568447113
Walk up the ramped approach to the small bridge and cross the canal.

Latitude: 53.194737506457486 Longitude: -2.8996288776397705
The far side is a spiral, allowing the towing horses to cross easily. There is a plaque on the wall to Tom Rolt, the saviour - many would say - of the canal system as we know it today.

Latitude: 53.19302772677011 Longitude: -2.8987759351730346
Return now towards the point where you came up the steps, but this time keeping on the canal towpath and passing under the road bridge as the canal sweeps in a broad curve left towards the final flight of locks taking it up to Chester level.

Latitude: 53.19340375559551 Longitude: -2.896217107772827
Walk under the low railway bridge and up past the locks as the Roman Walls curves in high on your right. You can join the wall or regain the city close to Northgate here, either via steps or a graded path, both to the right. You rejoin the walk here if a race meeting forced the alternate route. You may return to the railway station using the canal as far as City Road, or head up onto the walls or into Chester at Northgate.

Latitude: 53.19339732778005 Longitude: -2.8892219066619873
The canal route passes under a couple of forgettable bridges…

Latitude: 53.193471247599675 Longitude: -2.884013056755066
…one memorable one, before…

Latitude: 53.19347446150199 Longitude: -2.8827041387557983
…you reach the City Road bridge with the steps on the far side, bringing you back to…

Latitude: 53.196292961072324 Longitude: -2.8804779052734375

Chester station.

Latitude: 53.18546788364525 Longitude: -2.894521951675415
RACEDAYS - Alternate route... FromWP32
This time cross straight ahead into Nuns Road with the race course spread below to your left.

Latitude: 53.1868115245823 Longitude: -2.8957074880599975
As you pass the tented entrance to the Dee Enclosure you will see, on your right, after Black Friars...

Latitude: 53.188100480270364 Longitude: -2.8966355323791504
Grey Friars. Turn right here past some fine Georgian houses.

Latitude: 53.18836405247268 Longitude: -2.8954607248306274
Turn left in front of some converted stables into Nicholas Street Mews.

Latitude: 53.189585463480185 Longitude: -2.8959596157073974
At the end turn left around Watergate House,

Latitude: 53.18955974992274 Longitude: -2.8963887691497802
and then immediately right into Stanley Street.

Latitude: 53.19027972370225 Longitude: -2.8966891765594482
Pass a small mews and turn left into Stanley Place.

Latitude: 53.19035043476077 Longitude: -2.897767424583435
At the bottom turn right once more onto City Walls Road.

Latitude: 53.19087433578893 Longitude: -2.897863984107971
The tennis courts and sports field below on the left belong to the independent Queen's School, which is on your right.

Latitude: 53.19249099615214 Longitude: -2.8987491130828857
As the road bends away right, continue straight, ascending onto the wall proper. At the end, over some railway tracks, the wall turns right where the spur to the 'new' water tower can be seen.

Latitude: 53.19263241085912 Longitude: -2.898867130279541
'New' in this context means it was built for Edward II in around 1322. Follow the path to the right.

Latitude: 53.19274811345425 Longitude: -2.8985506296157837
A short distance on the left, take the steps down off the wall.

Latitude: 53.19272561575188 Longitude: -2.8992104530334472
Walk towards the water tower, passing a low arch in the wall giving access to some formal public gardens.

Latitude: 53.19269347615658 Longitude: -2.899516224861145
Having seen the tower, retrace your steps towards the wall and pick up the canal on your left just past WP49 to return to the station or head into the centre of Chester.