The “open-air city”

By | Category: Travel destinations

Chester has decided to style itself as an “open-air city” now that people can move around a little more freely.

The Anderton Boat Lift one of many outdoor activities to see

Obviously this is a plan to attract more tourists to the place but wouldn’t most people look on it as a heritage site to walk-around anyway? 

Apart from the fact that it has Britain’s most complete Roman and medieval walls, Tudor open-air galleries and Chester Zoo – one of the most visited attractions in  the country – it also has the recently revamped canal towpath.

If ever a city could claim to be for visitors to view without necessarily spending a lot of time in buildings, Chester is it.

If you haven’t seen the Anderton Boat Lift, a solution to moving boats fifty feet up and down from the trent & Mersey Canal to the River Weaver and vice-versa, then watch it in action, walk along it or even take a boat through.

Even if you dismiss the heritage for a moment (a hard thing to do since Roman and mediaeval sites are almost everywhere) you can go white-water kayaking on the Chester Weir in the middle of the city and paddle boarding with a view of the Chester Meadows.

As you might expect, cafes and restaurants, pubs and take-aways have altered their “normal” business to provide more outdoor facilities.

Concerned that this might not be enough to attract visitors in what looks like another boom for staycations, Chester is asking its 100,000 residents to become “travel agents” for their home town by encouraging friends and family to visit once the restrictions end.

Theatres, and gigs have been non-existent during the pandemic but Chester does have Grosvenor Park, a very large open area where events will be held during the summer and where social distancing is easy yet still allowing a largish number of people to view what is on offer. That includes Jungle Book (but not in conjunction with the zoo!) and Pride & Prejudice. Promised is more than 200 outdoor events this year..

There are even plans to screen films against the backdrop of Chester Cathedral and the city walls.

The zoo is 90 this year and covers about 130 acres so, again, there should be no social distancing problems unless everyone wants to be at a location at the same time. new this year is a Latin American wetland aviary.

With good train and road links, being easily accessible from so mant parts of England and Wales, a short-break or day-visit to Chester must be on the cards for many people starved of outdoor attractions.

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