Chester to Chester

Chester- Flintshire-Chester

Distance: 27 miles
Category: Intermediate/Expert

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This ride starts off relatively flat, leaving Chester using the traffic free riverside cycle path and then hitting a few rolling hills across the Welsh/English border. Mostly relatively quiet country lanes but a couple of short sections of A road and a stretch of the B5125 which can be busy as it approaches Chester. Some decent climbs involved – especially out of Shotton and the approach to Eccleston. But views are worth it!

The Ride:
Starts off at the Roo Dee car park (map ref. SJ403656) There is a café with some loos at the top end of the car park (normal opening times etc.).

Roo Dee Car Park at Chester

Ride down to the river at the bottom of the car park and get onto the cycle path next to the river. Go Right towards the imposing road bridge towering over you. Go through the gates under the bridge (Warning! – access is restricted during Chester Races as this takes you around the far side of the course – so check the race calendar) and take the obvious path clockwise around the edge of the racecourse. For those of you who are interested – Chester is the oldest racecourse in Britain, and pretty sure it is the only one which can be seen around it’s complete circuit as it nestles in a natural bowl). As you reach the far end of the course you turn sharp left through a high metal gate under the railway arch (by some steps leading up to a railway bridge) and onto the river board walk. This bears right (otherwise you get wet!) and follows the course of the river. Although tarmac at first, it changes into a board walk/cycleway. Watch your step in winter on the board walk – it can get slippery.

You come out by a block of newish flats onto the A548 – Caution – it’s a main road into Chester so it’s bit busy here. Turn Left and follow road for about 100yds, then turn Left (through a hedge line) into a small park called “The Cop” and follow the cycle track as it meets the edge of the river once more. Exit the park (it’s only about 100m long) and turn Left, following the cycle path and the river. You are now on the River Dee cyclepath and it’s a simple matter of following this alongside the river all the way out of Chester until you come to a pedestrian bridge over the river at Saltney Ferry.

Cycle path along the River Dee

Follow the cycle path as it snakes around end of the bridge (don’t cross over!) and continue (with river still on your left) – and after a few hundred yards you pass a landing stage on the far bank . This is where they load the wings of the world’s largest airliner, the Airbus A380, onto a ferry to take it to Mostyn docks for onward transport by sea to the continent. As you make your way up the river you can see the Airbus factory building based around Hawarden airport quite plainly on your left. If you are very lucky you may get to see the giant Beluga air transporter as it passes spookily quietly into land – quite a sight especially if you are cycling underneath it at the time.

Follow the cycle path all the way passing under the modern road bridge which carries the
A550 into North Wales and after another 400 yards you come to another, more elegant, bridge (locally known as the Blue Bridge for reasons which will become obvious). You need to cross the road at this point using the pedestrian crossing and then rejoin the cycle path back along the river. As you rejoin the path notice the stonework on the far side of the river where an even older original bridge spanned the river.

After another 600 yards or so you see an imposing brick faced building on your right. This now sadly neglected building is the old headquarters of the John Summers & Sons Steel Works – a major employer within the local community for decades before its demise in the seventies.

Immediately past the building is a railway bridge spanning the river. Note the massive machinery under the bridge especially the size of the chain which was used to open the bridge to allow deep draught vessels to load up with steel alongside the rotting jetties which line the river bank along this stretch.

Bear right on the cycle path as it approaches the bridge and get up onto the bridge and cross the river using the wide cycle path alongside the railway line. Drop down the ramp on the far side of the river and after passing through the weird shoulder squeezing barrier turn immediately Right (away from the river) and cycle straight through another squeeze barrier and carry onward down a narrow lane until after 400 yards you come out into Shotton Station.

Cross over footbridge onto the far platform and leave station through the obvious gate at the bottom of the footbridge steps. Drop onto road (Alexander Street) and cycle up to where it joins the busy A548 as it passes through Shotton. Turn Right onto the A548 (caution!) and after about 200 yards take first Left into King George Street.

Take 3rd Right turn into Queensway Road and cycle to the end until it comes to an apparent cul-de-sac. There is a short narrow path at the end of the cul-de-sac which leads to a ramp dropping down to a narrow sunken lane called Killins Lane.

Turn Left onto Killins Lane and cycle uphill, following the lane and just after it passes under a railway bridge bear Right at the T junction into Shotton Lane. Pass under another narrow railway bridge and continue steeply uphill for about 1 mile until you drop down to a T junction where it joins the B5125 by Ewloe. Turn Left along the B5125 and after 400 yards go Left at the T junction which leads onto the large roundabout (caution!). Go straight across the roundabout following the B5125 (signposted Hawarden). Then bear left at the smaller roundabout almost immediately afterwards (signposted Hawarden) following the B5125.

Plenty of pubs and the odd convenience store along this short stretch of road as it heads towards the centre of Hawarden village.

As you reach the village centre (on your left is an imposing house which was the residence of Gladstone in Victorian times), turn Right at the massive memorial/water fountain onto the A550 as this drops down steeply through a wooded section. After about 0.5 miles take a small, unsigned narrow road on Left – caution, this is just past a sharpish bend, and rises steeply as soon as you turn into it. The road is tarmaced, but is susceptible to pot holing.

Follow this lane uphill as it skirts Bilberry Wood on your left until it comes to an apparent dead end where the A55 has cut across. Take the kissing gate on the left (some minor acrobatics need to get the bike through) and follow the path for about 500 yards until you reach a bridge spanning the A55 on your Right. Cross the bridge and turn Left when you hit the road on the other side. Follow this lane downhill to a T junction where it hits the A5104 and turn Right, then almost immediately turn Left into Kinnerton Lane (signposted Kinnerton).

Follow Kinnerton Lane for about 1.5 miles down to a T junction (pub on the corner). Turn Left and follow road, passing through Lower Kinnerton, for about 2 miles until you reach a junction signed Gorstella, where you take a Right – signposted Dodleston.

As you enter Dodleston you come to a T junction. Turn Right onto Church Road and pass through village (pub almost immediately on the right). Follow this road out of the village and over the bridge spanning the busy A483. At the end of the road on the outskirts of Pulford you hit a T junction where the lane meets the B5445. Turn Left and follow the B5445 signposted Chester and after about 3 miles (just before a roundabout) turn Right down Rake Lane. Follow the lane as it climbs up and under a narrow tunnel at the top of the hill and as it drops down into the quaint village of Eccleston, take the Left turn (signposted Chester) into Eaton Road.

Follow this road as it passes over the A55 and into Handbridge. At T junction in the village centre, turn Right into Overleigh Road and drop down through the village as the road curves to the left to the river Dee.

As you cross the bridge over the Dee, turn immediately Left onto the cyclepath (before you go under the arch in the old city walls) – this is part of the dedicated safe cycle routes in Chester – and with the river on your left follow this cycle path back to the car park and your start point.

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