This was a walk that I had had on my list to do for a number of years. Comprising of a riverside walk between the border village of Holt and Chester I wanted to follow paths beside the River Dee and hence I needed a dryer spell when the river wasn’t high just in case the adjacent low lying fields were flooded. I drive to Chester early on a fine October morning and park south of the river and walk through to the city centre. The bus to Holt is running a few minutes late and was fairly full.
At Holt I alight and go for a wander around this interesting village before starting the walk proper. I want to see what was left of the castle and so I head off there first. For once the weather is on my side as the sun has now made an appearance to enable me to get some fine autumn photographs. The remains Holt Castle have recently been restored. It is unusual that it stands on a sandstone plinth in water meadows and I would have imagined the land around had been quarried away. The castle was built by Edward I between 1277 and 1311 and is shaped like a pentagon and once had a water filled moat fed by the River Dee. Being on the border between England and Wales it saw much action and was burned down in 1400 in the uprising by Owain Glyndwr. Again during the English Civil War there was further action and by the late 1600’s the castle had been dismantled and the stone removed for building work elsewhere. Before leaving Holt I want to visit the parish church of St Chad and here some damage was caused in the conflict during the English Civil War. Inside the church there is evidence of musket blasts on one of the walls and an ancient wooden door on the north side has blocked up holes which were cut out to fire through from within the church during the English Civil War by Royalists who were trapped inside.
It’s time to start my walk and I cross the River Dee into England via the ancient 14th century sandstone bridge. I make a short detour to Farndon Church but an event is taking place so I don’t venture inside.
Setting out beside the River Dee I follow the eastern bank to Iron Bridge, a distance of some five miles. Summer houses line the bank of the river but many look very dilapidated. My route continues mostly alongside field boundaries with the river nearly always immediately on my left. Just over a mile out of Farndon I come across three large Mongolian Yurts at Willows Fish Farm which are worth photographing but by now I have lost the sunshine for the day. For the next few miles I stay by the eastern bank of the River Dee following field boundaries through a succession of pastures and some short sections of very overgrown fields. In one or two spots the path runs dangerously close to the river due to ongoing erosion but worse is to come. Close to Jones Wood the path has been washed away and a wooden footbridge lies tilted at an angle of forty five degrees but I manage to get to it and cross it. (A obstruction report will be sent to West Cheshire CC when I get back). As I near Aldford I start to look for somewhere for lunch but I don’t find anywhere suitable until I have crossed the ornate Iron Bridge. This fine bridge was designed by Thomas Telford and built by William Hazledine for the 1st Marquis of Westminster in 1824 and has a single graceful cast iron arch of 50 metres. It was difficult to get a photograph of this fine structure without a trespass upstream on the western bank by the river side lodge but as the lodge seems empty I take the risk. I return to the western side of the bridge where I stop for lunch.
I now follow the western bank of the River Dee into Chester and in contrast with the morning part of the walk I was now walking through woodland and part of the large Eaton Estate. This section of the walk is proving more popular with walkers. At Eccleston I continued through river side meadows on a good path and later pass beneath the A55 on the approach into Chester. Rounding an area called Earl’s Eye I soon entered Chester where it was just a short walk back to the car.