Monday, 18 July 2011

The staircase at the edge of the universe

No, not the title of a previously unknown Richard Adams book but rather the thought that comes to mind when you take in the vertiginous view from the top of the Northgate Staircase. You gaze out right across to the hills beyond the far side of the Dee estuary and it's rather like being on top of a watery ski slope waiting to plunge 34 feet down through the three locks into the arms of the Shroppie below.
The locks are massive and massively impressive too; carved out of the solid rock just like the canal channel before them which runs through a high gorge flanked on one side by Chester city wall and bridged by handsome stone arches.Above the deep canal gorge is Chester's own Bridge of Sighs, foreground, which now goes nowhere sadly
It's a dramatic way to take one's leave of a fascinating city which is rightly thronged by tourists from all over the world - including three Australian ladies who were so admiring of my lock-wheeling techniques they snapped away with their digital cameras as I wrestled with the huge, heavy locks. Don't worry kids; Vicky was keeping a chaperone's eye on me!
We did the full Chester experience when the rain finally decided to stop at lunchtime today: the Roman experience; the city wall experience; the cathedral experience and even - unusually for us - the shopping experience among the unique and beautiful two level black and white fronted shops.
I wanted a new pair of outdoor shoes and having searched around, the best choice and by far the most helpful and knowledgeable assistance came at Cotswold Outdoor so we ended up buying not one but three pairs between us!

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