Tag: walking

Lockdown loafing: a racy glimpse of the love lives of Georgian Chester

Walking the walls is one of Chester’s favourite strolls.

The 2m circuit is also one of my preferred lockdown walks, although there are currently two places with diversions — one by Morgan’s Mount and the other by Newgate Bridge.

But in the Georgian era, a promenade around the walls was considered the height of fashion with Chester offering one of the first genteel walking circuits in the country.

Indeed, a Georgian suitor would have felt quite a frisson of excitement if they took their sweetheart for an evening stroll without a chaperone.

Even more so, if she should dare to reveal a hint of ankle.

Pemberton’s Parlour [pictured above] became a centrepoint for these romantic ramblings.

The seated alcove, built in the early 18th century on the ruins of the medieval Goblin Tower, is named after the former Mayor, John Pemberton.

Pemberton was the ‘murenger’ who the collected the ‘murage’, taxes to fund the upkeep of the walls.

He even added a stone plaque [pictured below] on top of the alcove to record his importance as the man who collected the monies.

Today the walls remain a major selling point for the city with Chester rated along side Unesco-listed Conwy and Carcassone as some of the best surviving medieval city walls.

You can walk a complete circuit of the walls via this handy video from CheshireLive.

But I’m with the Georgians.

I love the way a simple stroll became an elaborate metaphor for our need to be close to the ones we love.

It’s a sentiment with strong parallels to the situation we find ourselves in today.

Lockdown loafing: how I discovered my new favourite signpost

“Our townsfolk were like everybody else; wrapped up in themselves …” — Camus, La Peste.

My daily walk has become sacrosanct.

Under lockdown, it has become the highlight of the day: a time to think, breathe fresh air and enjoy the simple pleasure of putting one foot in front of the other.

But it is also forcing me to reassess the world close to my front door.

After all, limited to one hour of exercise per day, I can only venture so far from the area of Chester where I live.

This means I’m starting to notice things that I was previously blind too, too busy rushing to be somewhere, rather than enjoy the act of getting there.

One of my new favourite walks leads through Handbridge and along Dukes Drive towards Eccleston.

It passes the Chester Cross signpost [pictured above], currently with a beautiful symmetrical display of daffodils that Wordsworth himself would envy.

There are several of these signs around the area but I’ve never really studied them before, nor do I know how long they have been there.

But I like them. At a time when everything feels very uncertain, the Handbridge signpost has become a cornerstone of my day.

It’s keeping me grounded.

Does anyone know more about the history of these signs? Please share.

 

Visit Wales content via Telegraph Travel

Wales is lovely in autumn.

While everyone is back into work mode, I love escaping to Snowdonia [atop Y Eifel pictured above] and marvelling at the changing colours of the landscape.

This was the idea behind a series of editorial posts I worked on recently. It was sponsored content for Telegraph Travel and commissioned by Visit Wales.

The themes were adventure, days out and hidden gems. I also wrote a couple of more narrative-based posts about the heritage of Conwy Castle and walking trails.

You can read the full set of articles at Find Your Epic in Wales.

Or catch the individual posts as follows:

Alternative activities in Wales for the whole family

Ten of the best walks with rewards in Wales

 

Wild Wales: walking in the footsteps of George Borrow in Llangollen

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The writer George Borrow arrived in Chester in July 1854.

He walked the 20-odd miles to Llangollen and made his base there, starting the mammoth quest into the culture and language of Wales that would inspire his book Wild Wales (first published 1862).

According to a January 1936 edition of Cheshire Life magazine, available from the Cheshire Record Office in Chester:

“From there [Llangollen] he made those remarkably inquisitive excursions into unknown territory which enabled him to produce on work which will immortalise him — Wild Wales.”

I was in Llangollen last week, armed with an old copy of Wild Wales and a new Wild Wales iPad app, to retrace some of Borrow’s walks for a forthcoming article on Greentraveller.

I was staying at Geufron Hall [pictured above] and spent the first blue-skies evening hiking up to the summit of Castell Dinas Bran, a short yomp across country from the hillside B&B.

Borrow is not, in many ways, easy to like. His world view was very much of the times and his writing style is, at best, rather dense.

But, as the local walking guide Andrew Parish observed when he joined for one of the walks, “Wales was a tough old place at that time so we have to admire his gung-ho spirit.”

You can read my full story shortly but, meanwhile, here’s a sneak preview:

The most evocative walk for me was the energetic yomp up to Castell Dinas Bran, the ancient ruined castle set high above the town.

The view from the summit was spectacular: Llangollen below, Offa’s Dyke National Trail to the north, the Berwyn and Clwydian ranges meeting on the horizon.

We could almost touch the pristine-blue sky, dipping our fingertips into candyfloss clouds as the ancient spirits circled around us.

Have you read Wild Wales, or do you have walking tips around to Llangollen to share? Post below.

Liked this? Try also A Walk in the Shadow of Wild Wales.