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The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail

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The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail
Author: pubwalker, Published: 25 Sep 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trailstar1 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trailstar1 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trailstar1 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trailstar0 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail
Cheshire, Chester
Walk Type: Town or city
The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail
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A 3 mile circular pub walk from the Old Harkers Arms in Chester, Cheshire. The Old Harkers Arms is a proper old city of London boozer, only in Chester, that is set close to the commercial and professional heart of the city. The walking route follows a trail exploring some of the highlights that the city offers – the canal towpath, the old city walls, the famous racecourse, the River Dee and several of Chester’s beautiful parks.

The walk follows solid well-made paths and there are just a couple of inclines on route. There are no gates or stiles to negotiate, just a few flights of steps. Approximate time 2 hours.

The walk starts and finishes from the Old Harkers Arms, on Russell Street (directly alongside the canal) in Chester. Approximate post code CH3 5AL. The pub does not have a car park, so if you are coming by car you’ll need to park in one of the paid car parks in Chester. The nearest ones are the rail station car park (CH1 3NS) and Browns Yard car park on Bold Place, off York Street (CH1 3LZ).

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Walk Sections

Start to Water Tower
Start to Water Tower

Start point: 53.1935 lat, -2.881 long
End point: 53.1927 lat, -2.8989 long

To begin the walk, stand with your back to the pub (which at one time was a canal-boat chandlers run by a Mr Harker) facing the Shropshire Union Canal and turn left along the towpath, with the canal on your right. You will pass under the City Road bridge after just a few paces and, as you approach the next bridge, keep to the right on the path alongside the canal which passes under it.

Pass under the wide road bridge which carries the dual-carriageway (Saint Oswald’s Way) overhead. Alongside the canal you’ll see many old red-brick buildings which, at one time, were timber yards, salt stores, corn mills and warehouses. Originally this was known as the Chester Canal, and was built in 1772 to connect Chester and Nantwich. It was amalgamated with the Ellesmere Canal in 1795 providing a link out to the Mersey.

The next bridge along (123E – carrying Frodsham Road overhead) is known as Cow Lane bridge – a term from when cattle were grazed outside the city walls in the day and then brought back inside the city at night for safety. After this bridge, the towpath continues with an area of woodland on the left.

(Note: Some of the retaining walls along this section are crumbling over time and the towpath can be closed from time to time due to landslips. If you come across a closure, make your way back to Frodsham Street. Head south along Frodsham Street and then turn right towards the cathedral where you can climb the steps to turn right and follow the top of the city walls. Follow the walls round to the Water Tower where you can pick up the instructions from the next section.)

Continue ahead alongside the canal and soon the path runs between the sheer rock faces of red sandstone, with the city walls running above this on the left. This section gives a real insight into the work that was needed to create this sandstone cutting for the canal to be constructed.

You will pass under the high arch bridge of Northgate overhead. Before you reach the next road bridge (with lock underneath), turn left up some steps and fork right continuing up the steps. Pass through the arch in the walls and swing right to climb the steps to reach the top of the walls. Turn left along the walls, pass by the alcove known as Pemberton’s Parlour, go over the railway and at the corner you’ll come to the Water Tower.

Water Tower to Grosvenor Road
Water Tower to Grosvenor Road

Start point: 53.1927 lat, -2.8989 long
End point: 53.1856 lat, -2.8947 long

The construction of Chester’s city walls was started by the Romans when they established the fortress of Deva Victrix here between 70 and 80AD. They began with a rampart of earth and turf surmounted by a wooden palisade. From about 100AD the walls were reconstructed using sandstone, but were not completed until about 100 years later. The Water Tower was built between 1322 and 1325, at which time it stood in the River Dee. Its prime purpose was to defend the port of Chester, and it was also used to monitor the movements of shipping and to ensure that the custom dues were paid.

Bear left, still following the top of the walls, back across the railway. The paved path soon descends to become the pavement alongside Nun’s Road. At the next fork keep right, following the walls over Watergate Street. Beyond this, the path continues at road level. On the left you will pass The Architect pub (a good place for a quick pit stop) and on the right you will pass Chester Racecourse.

Horse racing in Chester dates back to the 16th century and Chester Racecourse is the oldest racecourse still in use in England. The racecourse site was once home to the famous and bloody Goteddsday football match. The game was very violent and, in 1533, banned by the city, to be replaced in 1539 by horse racing.

At the end of the road, you’ll come to a junction with Grosvenor Road.

Grosvenor Road to Suspension Bridge
Grosvenor Road to Suspension Bridge

Start point: 53.1856 lat, -2.8947 long
End point: 53.1877 lat, -2.8842 long

Cross over with care and then turn right across Grosvenor Bridge which leads over the River Dee. Grosvenor Bridge was opened in 1832, and at that time was the longest stone arch span in the world. Soon after the bridge, turn left through the metal gates to enter the cemetery.

Follow the path downhill as it swings right and then left. At the next fork, keep left to follow the path out through a gate onto River Lane. Turn left along the lane and at the end, keep right signed as the cycleway Gold Route to the city centre. Follow this tarmac path with the River Dee running to the left.

You will come to the bottom of a cobbled street. Cross over this and keep straight ahead into Edgar’s Field Park. Keep to the left-hand of the two paths, closest to the river. Ahead you’ll see the beautiful red-sandstone arched Old Dee Bridge. Follow the path as it swings right and then left out onto the road, Handbridge. Cross over and turn left towards the bridge but, immediately before it, turn right down some steps to continue on the riverside path.

Follow this paved section of path where you’ll see the river’s weir to your left, and then an old waterwheel alongside the path. Keep ahead through the next area of parkland and, immediately after it, you will see the Queen’s Park Suspension Bridge overhead.

Suspension Bridge to End
Suspension Bridge to End

Start point: 53.1877 lat, -2.8842 long
End point: 53.1935 lat, -2.881 long

Go right up the steps to join the bridge, which was opened in 1923, and cross it. At the far side, swing hard left and then keep right following the road back along the river. Continue until you reach the small roundabout and turn right into Souter’s Lane. Follow the pavement uphill, crossing over to stay on the pavement halfway up. At the top of the hill, turn right and right again to join the arched walkway which leads you over the old Roman Amphitheatre.

Keep ahead past the parish church on your right, and follow the path as it swings right. Here you will pass the old East Ruins of the original medieval St John’s Church, reputedly founded by King Aethelred in 689AD. Turn left into Grosvenor Park.

(Note: the park is undergoing restoration from Jan 2013 to Summer 2014, so some paths may be closed. If this is the case, just use the available paths to make own your way to the gate at the far left corner, alongside the Lodge).

Within the park, keep left at the first circular junction and then right at the next two forks. At the major crossroads of paths keep left and left again and follow this path all the way to the gate out of the park alongside the old timber-framed Lodge. Ahead you’ll see Union Street.

Keep ahead to join the right-hand pavement along the main road, and follow this as it bends right. Cross over a side road and then cross the main road using the pedestrian crossing. Take the next side road on the left, Russell Street, and follow this to the end where you’ll find the Old Harkers Arms for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author pubwalker and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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4 images to "The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail"

2582_0Richard1380643650 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Some pretty heavy pieces of timber...
2582_1Richard1380643651 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Love our industrial heritage.
2582_0Richard1380645437 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Here's a picture of the water tower that I snapped from the information board. This was obviously in a time when the Dee was navigable by large ships. Shame it's not now
2582_0Richard1380652386 The Old Harkers Arms and Chester City Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
This is the view as you cross the bridge near the beginning of the walk.

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