Chester to Chester

Overview:
This 12 mile cycle ride is a relatively flat circuit, taking in the traffic free riverside cycle path and then diving across the Welsh/English border via generally quiet lanes. A few watering holes are on the circuit – but don’t depend on them – suggest you have a bottle of water and a Mars bar to hand!

Click to enlarge

The Ride:
Starts off at the Roo Dee car park (map ref. SJ403656) – currently £3 for 3 hours so bring some change! 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 go through another gate (by some steps leading up to a railway bridge) and bear right – at this point turn immediately Left, through the bridge arch 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 morphs into a board walk/cycleway.

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 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. Get onto this bridge and go over the bridge onto the far riverbank. You have to navigate some obstacles the council have decided to install to keep motorbikes off the cycle path – but unless you are sylph like (and I’m not) – then you may need to hop off the bike. Pity they don’t do a better job of making people pick up there dog poo as well – be warned you may find evidence in this area…..

Saltney Ferry Bridge

If you look on your right hand side up the river towards the estuary, you may be able to spot the loading jetty for the world’s largest commercial aircraft – the Airbus A380 – the wings of which are built locally in Broughton (you can see the aircraft factory) and are ferried to Europe. The river here is arrow straight as it was cut to support trade into Chester and the steel works in Shotton.

OK lets get back to the plot – when you reach the far bank turn Left (effectively straight on – you’ll understand when you get there) onto the B5129, (up over the railway bridge) and after another couple of hundred metres you come to a road junction, turn Left onto the A5104 (signposted Chester). After a hundred metres turn Right (there is a school on the opposite corner) into Sandy Lane, a wide straight road with fields to your right. Follow this for about half a mile until it curves to the Left, then take the next Right. Follow this road, over a railway crossing and through an area called the Lache until you hit another “T” junction.

Turn Right here and follow the road as it heads out into open country again until you come to a Roundabout. Take the first Left up “Rough Hill” (not as bad as it sounds!) and follow road until you come to another “T” junction with the busy A483 (dual carriageway). Now the dodgy bit – don’t try to cross here – go right along the footpath for about 50 metres and it brings you to a crossing point. Watch yourself at this point as they don’t take prisoners so get yourself safely over to the centre and then across to the other side. Alternative is to turn left and go to the roundabout (it’s obvious) and then back down the other side – but you’re braver than me if you do this.

Follow the A483 down to the next roundabout (it’s only a few metres) and take the first Left onto the B5445 (signposted Rosset and Pulford) – almost immediately turn Left into a lane. Follow this up (bit of a gradient I’m afraid) for about a mile or so and go through a tunnel (this is one of the many private roads built for the Duke of Westminister’s forebears so they could get back and to from the estate you are skirting without meeting the serfs) and eventually you enter the village of Eccleston.

Again, evidence of the Duke can be found – if you notice all of the buildings in Eccleston have name plates with a dog effigy on – that’s the estates mark.

Road now drops down through Eccleston – take next Left (about 200 metres after the
tunnel) signposted Chester and Handbridge. Follow this old Roman Road all the way back into Chester (you cross over the busy A55) until you enter Handbridge.

You then reach a “T” junction – turn Right down the hill and as the road bears to the left you drop down to the river, crossing over the old Dee bridge (this was built by Mark Brunell who was Isambard Kingdom’s dad). As soon as you get over the bridge, turn immediately Left, onto the path – don’t worry, this is part of Chester’s cycleway – and follow the obvious path for about 200 metres back to the Roo Dee car park.

If you want a bit of a diversion, when you get across the old Dee bridge, turn Right instead of Left – this takes you along the river Dee frontage – plenty of café’s and a pub to finish the ride off. Just backtrack to the Roo Dee carpark.

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