Tag: Cheshire

Dark Chester: a walk through the shadows of our dark-tourism history

We took a walk on the dark side a few days ago.

It was the inaugural outing for my new Dark Chester tour [pictured above], a walking tour through the shadows of Chester’s 2000-year-old history.

Think Horrible Histories meets Inside Number Nine with a dash of the Uncanny podcast.

In other words, an evening storytelling stroll with tales of plague, persecution and poltergeists.

For some more background, read this blog I penned for the British Guild of Tourist Guides:

Chester: take a walk on the dark side.

This first tour was an exclusive event for the Chester Heritage Festival, which runs until July 27 with lots of free activities, as well as paid-for tours.

As well as leading the tour, I also worked with the Heritage Festival team to livestream stories from two of the tour stops.

You can watch the livestream from Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre here.

The livestream from The Bear & Billet is here.

Plus I had some great initial feedback, including this comment:

 

The plan now is to take Dark Chester weekly.

So join me. Let’s take a walk on the dark side.

How to step behind the scenes at Jodrell Bank science centre, Cheshire

Sir Bernard Lovell became the father of modern cosmology long before Professor Brian Cox started pondering the wonders of the universe.

I went to walk in Lovell’s footsteps recently at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre [pictured above], the observatory and science park in rural Cheshire.

Last weekend saw the opening of the new site’s new First Light Pavilion, the dome-shaped building mirroring the shape and scale of the all-seeing-eye telescope.

It hosts the permanent exhibition, The Story of Jodrell Bank, a social-history journey in six chapters from the lo-fi origins of the site to the present day.

Featuring archive material and personal memorabilia from the Lovell family, it celebrates the way Jodrell Bank crosses over from science to heritage.

The new exhibition complements the activities in the other pavilions, which focus more on the science behind stars, explaining concepts such as pulsars, quasars, and the Big Bang amongst others.

“We have a perception that science is only found in laboratories and often highly regulated, but Sir Bernard Lovell always celebrated the beauty of science.”

“He understood that science is an integral part of our heritage and culture,” says Professor Teresa Anderson, Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement at The University of Manchester.

More www.jodrellbank.net

Read the full story in i Travel, How to step into outer space in rural Cheshire

Why the hidden-treasure town of Nantwich should be your next staycation

Spring finds me driving the rural backroads of south Cheshire.

I’m here on assignment for Telegraph Travel, writing a postcard from Cheshire as part of a series of articles by writers around the UK.

Each one is about an under-the-radar destinations for UK staycations with a sprinkle of celebratory stardust.

My journey took me to Nantwich, the historic market town, and the Combermere Estate on the Cheshire-Shropshire border.

I also visited the new Three Wrens gin distillery, where I met distillery dog, Rocky [pictured above].

Here’s a taster of my article:

The historic market town of Nantwich has all the history of county-hub Chester, albeit on a smaller scale.

The jumble of cobbled streets and half-timbered houses have hosted Norman lords, survived medieval fires, and been occupied by the Parliamentarian forces during the mid 1600s when Nantwich defied Chester, coming out against Charles I during the Civil War.

The Market Hall has been singing the praises of Cheshire Cheese since the town’s genteel Victorian era.

“I think visitors appreciate the slow-travel tranquillity of South Cheshire while being surprised by the quality of its local produce,” says Sarah Callander-Beckett, the owner and current lady of the manor at Combermere Abbey.

“This region is steeped in rural heritage but has moved with the times to offer high quality and an individual experience.”

Read the full story, The charming Cheshire town that hasn’t yet been ruined by WAGs.

How to drink to English Wine Week at the Carden Park Hotel in Cheshire

Cheers! It’s English Wine Week.

I went to raise a glass at my nearest vineyard, nestled in the Cheshire countryside at the Carden Park Hotel and Spa estate [pictured above], for a national newspaper feature.

* The edited article was published yesterday in the Sun on Sunday. This is my original version.

The vines stretch out across the estate, the grapes ripening in the sunshine. By late October, they should plump and ripe to pick for the wine-making harvest.

But we’re not in Bordeaux or the Barossa Valley. With English Wine Week starting today, we have given up on the amber-list lottery in favour of a grape British staycation in rural Cheshire.

Wandering through the three-acre vineyard at Carden Park, the Cheshire country-estate hotel around 30 minutes from the city of Chester, feels like a walk in the Napa Valley wine country — without the airport scramble.

Carden Park is home to one of the more northerly of the 770-odd vineyards in England. The majority are found in the Southeast but there are also over 30 vineyards in Wales and nearly 90 across the Midlands and the North.

The vineyard produces on average 7,000 bottles of sparkling Carden Park Estate Reserve wine each year from its two grape varieties, Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir.

“The sandy soil and microclimate in this part of Cheshire suit those grape varieties to produce the best yield,” says Estates Manager Peter Pattenden.

WINE TRAIL

English wine travel is also booming with an average of 4,449 monthly visits to vineyards according to Wine GB, the national association for the English and Welsh wine industry.

Some larger wineries, such as Chapel Down in Kent and Llanerch in South Wales, have championed wine weekends away, combining meals and accommodation with winery tours.

Carden Park currently offers a more informal, self-guided stroll through the vineyard. There are plenty of options, however, for a wine-pairing weekend of Great British food and drink with wide-screen Cheshire countryside views.

After we had explored the estate, we headed into nearby Chester to meet local wine expert Richard J. Smith. He founded the Wine School of Cheshire and recently opened The Tasting Room in Chester, offering tasting events and wine-appreciation classes.

English wines are, he says, finally give the French and new-world winemakers a run for their money at international tastings.

Traditionally, English wines were sparkling but Richard champions still wines, favouring new grape varieties, such as white-wine Bacchus, that grow well in cooler UK climates.

“The Romans brought vineyards to England but, when I tried my first English wine around 1990, I simply poured it down the sink,” says Richard.

“English wine has transformed in recent years with new winemakers, technology and, of course, the effects of climate change,” he adds, opening a bottle of Pinot Noir with hints of burnt raspberry from the Gusbourne Estate winery in Kent.

We also taste a glass of Atlantic Dry from the Camel Valley winery in Cornwall. It’s fruity and fragrant — perfect with white fish or goat’s cheese.

“Our wineries are often family owned and the grapes are hand-picked,” adds Richard, who has four tastings planned for English Wine Week, and runs regular summer-evening wine cruises on Chester’s River Dee with the local boat company, Chester Boat.

“I love the sense of personality this brings to the new generation of English and Welsh wines.”

FINE DINING

Back at Carden Park, it’s time for dinner at The Vines, Carden Park’s new fine-dining restaurant inspired by the estate’s vineyard. The plush-green decor and starched tablecloths create a genteel atmosphere, complemented by a fine collection of wines from around the world.

The hotel also recently opened Vertigo at Carden, new aerial adventure course, while the Spa at Carden is ideal for some next-day recovery after a glass of vino too many.

But, for now, we tuck into lemon sole with local asparagus and roast beef, all washed down with a bottle of Carden Park Estate Reserve Rosé, priced at £47 in the restaurant.

The speciality coffee-bean ice-cream, served with amoretti biscuit, is our new favourite desert.

As the sun sets over the vineyard, we finish our stay by raising a glass to the new breed of English winemakers taking home-grown wines to the world.

Read the story at Sun Travel.