Chester

The Eastgate Clock, designed by John Douglas - the architect of Cotton FarmChester is a lovely city on an approachable scale. The Roman legacy is very much in evidence, and the city walls encircling the original Roman settlement are intact. They make an excellent walk, giving views of the city, the River Dee and the Clwydian Hills of Wales.

The Roman amphitheatre is undergoing a long excavation and (hopefully) renovation. It was one of the largest outside Rome, signifying the importance of Chester, or Deva, to the Romans. The Grosvenor Museum and the Dewa Roman Experience do an excellent job of illuminating Chester's past.

The River Dee was what made Chester great, when it was the largest harbour on the west coast. As the Dee estuary gradually silted up, the sea port moved away from Chester, first to Shotwick then on to Park Gate on the Wirral. (Dickens writes of sailing to Ireland from Park Gate, and you can still see the rope marks in the quay, despite the sea being mostly a distant shimmer.) Today, the riverside walks in Chester make for a very pleasant stroll.

The famous Chester Rows have to be seen - elevated galleries of shops, with characteristic black-and-white frontages, they were essentially a Middle Ages shopping mall. If you prefer the modern equivalent, the Forum Shopping Centre is in the city centre, while Cheshire Oaks is a large out-of-town shopping mall and entertainment complex.

Chester Races are a magnificent social and equine event. The Roodee racecourse is right in the city, located on the old Roman harbour - so as you place your bet on the next race, you can imagine the seagoing galleys jostling at anchor right where you are standing.

Chester Zoo is a world leader in conservation and education, as well as exhibiting animals. The 'zoo without bars' goes from strength to strength, and is well worth a visit. It is on the east side of the city, just a few miles from Cotton Farm.

Chester has many excellent restaurants, cafes and bars - see Places to Eat and Drink.