Dee-light­ful route on river­side paths

Macclesfield Express - - EAST CHESHIRE HOSPICE - COLIN PARK

THE East Cheshire Ram­blers re­cently un­der­took a lin­ear walk with much his­tor­i­cal in­ter­est be­tween Ch­ester and Holt on the Welsh bor­der, fol­low­ing for part of the way paths along­side the River Dee.

Meet­ing in Holt, the group started off the day with a cof­fee stop in a lo­cal cafe be­fore vis­it­ing the re­mains of Holt Cas­tle which stands on a plinth of sand­stone rock close to the river.

The cas­tle was one of sev­eral built by Ed­ward I on the Welsh bor­der and is un­usual as it was built in the shape of a pen­tagon with a tower at each cor­ner.

Rock was cut out sur­round­ing the cas­tle to form a moat with wa­ter be­ing sup­plied by the ad­ja­cent River Dee. Later in his­tory the cas­tle formed part of a Roy­al­ist strong­hold dur­ing the first English Civil War but was then taken by the Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. The cas­tle was later dis­man­tled with some of the stone used in the build­ing of Ea­ton Hall.

Nearby, St Chad’s Church was vis­ited to view the dam­age caused dur­ing the First English Civil War, in­clud­ing the mus­ket dam­age in­side the build­ing and the loop­holes cut into the wooden door on the north­ern side which were used by Roy­al­ists from within the church to fire at the ad­vanc­ing Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans.

Cross­ing the me­dieval bridge over the River Dee, the party caught the bus into Ch­ester for the walk back along­side the river­side path with a di­ver­sion to visit the grand church at Ec­cle­ston and here a suit­able lunch stop was found.

The River Dee was crossed at the or­nate Ald­ford Iron Bridge. Dat­ing from 1824 the bridge, span­ning 50 me­tres in a sin­gle cast iron arch, was de­signed by Thomas Telford and built by Wil­liam Ha­zle­dine on the in­struc­tions of the First Mar­quis of West­min­ster.

Leav­ing the river­side the walk now ran via the at­trac­tive and ‘de­signed’ vil­lage of Ald­ford, dom­i­nated by the fine vil­lage church of St John, to reach the vil­lage of Chur­ton where a path was fol­lowed down to the River Dee which led back to Farn­don and Holt.

For more de­tails of East Cheshire Ram­blers’ pro­gramme of week­end and mid­week walks rang­ing from four to 15 miles in length, go to ram­blerseastcheshire. org.uk.

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