The Medieval City of Chester

Chester Cheshire

All too soon our road trip through North Wales and the glorious Snowdonia was coming to an end and as we woke on our last morning in Harlech we prepared to head back. Our plan had always been to spend a couple of nights in the historic city of Chester at the end of the trip but we had to get there first didn’t we?

Leaving Harlech

Harlech had been a wonderful stay, right on the coast with incredible views down across Cardigan Bay. Great little bed’n breakfast and amazing beaches (Portmeirion via the Llyn Peninsula).

Harlech

After another fabulous breakfast at our bnb we headed north west towards Blaenau Ffestiniog on our way to that well known Welsh spelling mistake, Betws-y-coed. We weren’t taken with Blaenau Ffestiog at all as it’s a real old-fashioned industrial town so pushed on into the National Park up to Betws. It may seem a little sad to some of you but having a car for a week or so is like luxury to us. Just being able to throw coats, bags, and food in the back without constantly repacking our backpacks is just so easy. Leaving when we want and going exactly where we want is a real delight too so we’ve absolutely loved having the car for a few days.

North Wales road trip
“Having our own car for a few days was just SO exciting!”

Just before we left Jo got a little distracted in Harlechs main street by a business up-for-sale. A coffee shop and sweet shop right on the corner seemed to be calling her name. The Harlech Emporium and Caffi Bwtri Bach Cafe? Not sure if it was a great opportunity or one of those sugar-coated dream ideas but it looked great.

harlech
“The future of JWalking perhaps?”

Betws-y-coed

Everyone that visits Snowdonia comes to Betws-y-coed and as we parked up and wandered down the main street we could see that it was a real tourist hot-spot. So many coaches rumbling into town along the narrow stone-walled lanes and hoards of holiday makers perusing the many tourist shops buying anything and everything with a Welsh flag or dragon on it. We were doing the same so couldn’t really complain but it was the mirror-image of Beddgelert with it’s original old-world charm.

Betws-y-coed

Cool coffee shops and cafes at every turn and outdoor pursuits clothing establishments completed the look which must generate different attitudes from locals and visitors alike. The town must bring so much business and create so many jobs and tourists obviously love coming, but there is a sense that it may have lost it’s soul a little. We enjoyed a walk back and forth but were almost relieved to be back on the quiet lanes leading up the Conwy Valley away from the hub-bub.

Betws-y-coed

Llandudno West Shore

Making good time we headed straight for Llandudno West Shore for a spot of lunch before returning the car. Quiet and a little wild, just the way we like it. Hopefully our return train trip into England would be much easier than the one from Liverpool and so it proved. Only 45 minutes and we were in the centre of one of the most historic cities in the whole of Great Britain.

Chester

Deva Victrix

The two thousand year old walled medieval city of Chester is often ranked as one of the best places to live in England and was originally named Deva Victrix by the occupying Romans when established in AD 79. Everywhere you turn is evidence of the Roman occupation and the history is literally dripping in history. It’s reputed that it was supposed to be the capital city of Britannia instead of London and you can see why.

Chester

Our Travelodge was situated opposite the impressive Roman amphitheatre just outside the city walls, perfect for exploring and discovering what the town had to offer. So our first expedition just had to be JWalking those medieval walls didn’t it? Chester is one of the best preserved walled-cities in Europe and you can still walk around virtually the whole place.

Chester Walled City
“Walking the walls ….”
Chester Amphitheatre
“The Roman amphitheatre opposite our lodging”

Passing the museum, the famous racecourse, and the historic city gates we ended up in the imposing cathedral. Although the city streets were busy with tourists it didn’t seem too commercial and the place had a really friendly vibe. It felt like somewhere that you could just ‘hang out’ in so that’s what we did. We sat out for a coffee, watched the town crier entertaining the crowds, sat in Grosvenor Park, watched the boats on the River Dee, lunched in the cathedral gardens, and enjoyed the sunshine. Beautiful.

Chester Cathedral
“The incredibly imposing Chester Cathedral”
Chester River Dee
“The River Dee running right through the city”

We even had time for a little bit of retail therapy as Chester is famous for ‘The Rows‘. Lines of tudor buildings that have double-decker shops running through them. Not sure if I’ve explained that very well but they have the normal shops on the street like any town but then another line of shops running above them with covered tudor walkways connecting everything. Very picturesque. We even pushed the boat out and went out for dinner to Firejacks just around the corner. A very cool american diner that hit the spot on our last night away.

Chester Rows
“The famous Rows of Chester. Rows of double-decker tudor shops”

Next stop – Return to an Old Helpx

Feeling refreshed and relaxed we boarded the Capital City Express to London (not it’s real name obviously, just throwing it out there) on our way to the tiny hamlet of Thelnetham in Norfolk where we would be returning to the scene of a previous Helpx stay. With the drama of a couple of cancelled trains at Liverpool Street station causing severe commuter-stress the journey wasn’t easy but we made it in the end.

Our road trip of the North West of England, North Wales, Anglesey and Snowdonia was finally over and had been an absolute revelation giving us exactly what we had hoped for. So many places we’d never seen and wanted to experience from National Parks to cities to beautiful beaches. An unbelievably successful and amazing trip that has actually caused us more problems than it solved as we are now desperate to return and explore even more. It never ends does it?

North Wales

02/07 – 04/07/2019

Pinterest - Medieval City of Chester

49 comments

  1. Every photo looks like it could be a postcard. Chester seems like a wonderful place to explore. Were you tempted to put an offer in on the coffee shop? Looks so quaint but I can only imagine the work and cost of upkeep of such ancient buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chester looks just fabulous. It’s a shame so many of these smaller places get spoilt by commercialism but I guess that’s what brings the money in. Your way of life certainly makes you appreciate the ‘little’ things like a car!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a nice dilemma to have deciding where to go next and where to return to but I can get how difficult it is to plan it all in. Luckily you don’t have work to get in the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Again, another city I haven’t been to but would now like to go after reading this. Go on open that coffee shop!! You two would make lovely hosts ☕️ ☕️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha Jo would love to run a coffee shop but we’ve still got these itchy feet so reluctant to settle down. You never know though. Need an investor, interested?

      Like

  5. I know exactly what you mean about having a car for a few days – it does feel like pure luxury when you’re not used to it! We’ve had the use of my partner’s brother’s car whilst he’s on holiday, and we just drove to the big supermarket a few miles away instead of having to walk to the small local one in the rain like normal. A car definitely isn’t a necessity in London, but it is a treat to have one once in a while!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t been to Chester for a few years now and definitely need to get back. I had not thought of stopping there after a trip to Wales, this is a brilliant way of seeing two amazing places in one trip. Looks like you had a great time

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Chester, but it certainly looks like an interesting place. We’re thinking of doing a UK road trip for a few weeks next year so maybe this is somewhere we should add to our list of places to visit…

    Liked by 1 person

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