The Sandstone Trail

The ancient roman city of Chester is right on the borderlands between England and Wales, as such it has a rich multinational history which is still prevalent in the scenery and architectural landmarks, all this with the landscape results in a lot of awesome land to trek around.

Wales doesn’t hog all the great hiking trails, you have the killer opportunity to see the best of Chester’s surroundings in one fell swoop with the sandstone trail.

This trek will take you on a route from which you will see castles, rocky cliffs, rolling hills and fields of green. The route follows Sandstone Ridges running from north to south. Leading from Frodsham in Central Cheshire all the way over to Whitchurch over the Shropshire border. The Path is around 40 years old, also having been extended in 1990.

The trail is named for the gorgeous sandstone rock formations and cliffs which snake throughout the area. These hulking orange walls looks straight out of the Taklamakan Desert, and are quite an extraordinary sight to be hiking beside in the county of Cheshire.

When you reach the higher ground you’ll be treated to sweeping views across the Mersey. Either end of the trail you’ll find a stone obelisk outside Bears paw Public House and a 2m Sandstone archway at the entrance of the Jubilee Park carpark.

This is a fantastic trek to see many sites of the borderlands. This is a good trek to catch these sites.

Along with way you will see points of interests including the Woodhouses hill fort – an iron age fort. There are areas to enjoy like Alvanley cliffs, Delemere forest, Beestone Castle, Burwardsley Villiage, Bickerton Hills and Maiden Castle. Other nice sites include Wharton & Willeymoor locks on the Shropshire Union Canal, Grindley Brook. Towards the end of your journey you may (on a clear day) catch a glimpse of the liver building and the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool.

In Early October they hold the ‘Sandstone Trail Races’. The current record for the whole traverse is held by Duncan Harris of Chester Tri, in 4 hours, 10 minutes. The women’s best time is held by Caroline Hall of Wirral AC in 5 hours, 04 minutes.

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MBNA Chester Music Festival

MBNA Chester Music Festival features Ensemble Deva 3rd -13th of June. 11 days of the highest class of chamber music in chester, the venues include Chester Town Hall, Chester Cathedrtal and St. John’s Church.

Performances to inspire any lover of music and culture are set to take place such as the opening recital of ‘La Creation du Monde’ with Gwilyn Simcock, Rob Buckland, Benedict Holland performing Darius Milhaud’s famous work.

But that’s just one event of many. With recitals and orchestral specticals including the cast of the ensamble Steve Reich, Rob, Sophie Rosa, Martin Roscoe, and a grand finale which promises to be the highlight of the festival.

This finale is a chance for musicians and audience alike to let of steam with an assortment of cafe-inspired gems and a programme of music devised and rehearsed for your eyes. Do not miss this!

Are You Ready for the Winter Wonderland?

Xmas Lights 2We can’t believe we’re already saying this but Christmas has quickly rolled back round again! It seems as if the Brussell sprouts from last year haven’t even digested yet but here we are again, looking forward to another season of Yuletide in Chester.

If you have self-proclaimed adoration of all things Christmas, there’s only one place you need to be in Chester over the coming month and that’s at the Winter Wonderland.

Combining family-friendly entertainment with a heady dose of mulled wine, it’s one of those truly great days out during Christmas time that don’t seem to be around as much as they used to these days. As long as the Winter Wonderland continues to push out fantastic entertainment like it did in 2013, we should be able to look forward to this great event for many years to come!

If you’ve got the balance of a newborn lamb, you might want to sit out taking a skate on the MBNA Ice Rink at Watergate Square. For the rest of us, we can enjoy one of the best ice skating rinks around and afford ourselves a couple of bumps and bruises whilst doing so. What better way to bond with family than watching each other fall over constantly?

Elsewhere during the occasion, you and the kids can enjoy a sit down meal with a bear. Not quite literally.

You can dine with Blu and his friends in the Enchanting Land of Sweets with plenty of options for even the pickiest of youngsters. The elf chefs are on hand to make your meals unforgettable and besides, where else would you be able to eat cookies for lunch?

The adults haven’t been forgotten about this year. No doubt after you’ve contended with the kids’ rampant excitement all day, you might justifiably need a tall drink of something. Well you are in luck as there are plenty of places to pick up a cold one and unwind. If you aren’t excited by the prospect of checking out the vodka ice bar, you clearly just aren’t in the Christmas spirit.

For this and much, much more, be sure to visit the Winter Wonderland from the 14th of November until the 24th of December. Call on 01244 304 610 or email info@winterwonderlandchester.co.uk for more information.

“Xmas Lights 2″ by www.flickr.com/photos/32688155@N05/, license: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0 – 05/11/2014

Chester Pride Returns This Weekend

Chester PrideThe beautiful city of Chester will be filled with beautiful characters and celebration this weekend as Chester Pride makes a welcome return.

Last year was the incumbent edition of the event and it was well-received within the LGBT community. For the unfamiliar, LGBT means lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – all will be present at this amazing festival and making themselves heard.

Voluntary groups, charities and public sector organisations will all be taking part in the grand parade through the city centre, headed by the group’s new mascot: a Roman God who will be introduced for the first time in 2014. Sporting a rainbow plume helmet and a throne inscribed with some important moments in LGBT history, the organisers hope he will become synonymous with Chester Pride over the next few years.

The Lord Mayor of Chester will be among the numbers over the weekend but unfortunately might not be taking part in the samba and belly dancing going on through the streets with the Public and Commercial Services Union Samba Band.

The route will start at the recently redeveloped Grosvenor Park before heading to St Johns Street, Eastgate Street, Northgate Street, St Werbugh Street and then back to the park where the fun will begin with some fantastic live music. Sonia, Rozalla, Livin Joy, Kelly Llorena, Tokyo Taboo, Sharon Wallace, dance duo Shelter, Chester Rock Choir, Bears Aloud and Wolf are among the acts with a couple of tribute performances also taking place. There will also be activities for youngsters amongst many other fascinating events on during the day.

Jenna Pickin-Jones, Chester Pride Director and Social Media coordinator, said: “Following last year’s Pride, we had a lot of people asking us to consider having a parade at future events. Upon announcing that we would be having a parade, the response has been fantastic and we are pleased to have the Lord Mayor taking part along with all the groups, businesses and organisations.

“The mascot is inspirational and after Pride will be going on tour. We would also encourage any schools, businesses, or other venues that would like to house it for a few weeks to get in touch. We hope that people who aren’t taking part in the parade support it on the day by standing along the parade route cheering us on.”

You can follow Chester Pride UK on Facebook, or Twitter at @chesterpride.

“P1010197″ by www.flickr.com/photos/hippie, license: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0 – 03/10/2014

Second Poundworld to Open in Chester

Chesterfield - Packers RowAnyone looking for a bargain in Chester city centre will be in luck as it’s announced that a second Poundworld will open in the historic town.

The Forum Shopping Centre is currently the location for the first Poundworld store which opened in April, creating 30 jobs and low-end prices at the same time. After the USC shop closed down just one week ago, Poundworld has moved in quickly to expand.

The company has come a long way since being a market stall in Wakefield in the 70’s and with 240 stores across the UK, is one of the many competitors for other pound emporiums such as Poundland and Poundstretcher. The recession-busting shops have become almost synonymous with the British high street over the past 5 years or so.

Spokeswoman Louise Greenwell said: “I can confirm that Poundworld will be opening a new store in Chester at Foregate Street next to Marks and Spencer in October. The store will be run as an additional site and our existing store in the Forum Shopping Centre will remain open.

“Unlike our main rivals, Poundland, which is American private equity owned, we remain 100% family owned to this day, headed up by managing director Chris Edwards and his son and trading director, Chris Edwards Junior.”

Cestrians will be hoping that they will see a bargain or two when the new store does open and with 5000 products available from the likes of Coca-Cola and Cadburys, it’s better than your average pennysaver.

USC was abruptly closed down amid concerns that the landlord’s rent was “too high” and that it wasn’t viable to stay there long term. Its parent company, Sports Direct, has stated that they are still looking for another space in the city.

Chesterfield – Packers Row” by www.flickr.com/photos/pauliospictures, license: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Could We Be About to See a Chester Dungeon?

Spooky dungeonAn inventor is hoping to bring his idea of a tourist dungeon to life in Chester town centre, it has been revealed.

Ed Walley will be looking to create the innovatively named Chester Dungeon: a maze-like building underneath a former ladies’ boutique on Watergate Street. There will be pop up figures, ghoulish music and a sense of dread for all visitors. You can simply walk down five steps to access the dungeon and Walley has stated that there will be no queues as you wind your way around six passages of terror.

It’s not too dissimilar to the popular attractions in London and Blackpool with those two being the main inspiration for the prospective new attraction. Though it will be on a much smaller scale and won’t need performers, a few jobs will likely be created from the project for administration and customer service if it was successful.

Chester may be a place of beauty but there admittedly aren’t all that many tourist attractions to keep you entertained during your visit. According to a document released by Walley, who also created The Crocky Trail in Waverton, it could be just what the city needs:

“Chester is a beautiful city attracting millions of visitors to see its Rows and walls and Roman heritage. It is, however, short of popular entertainment and tends to die in the early evening. The dungeon will provide an extra attraction that is needed by such a popular destination.”

The tourist trade would benefit from the dungeon as it will open in line with regular bar and restaurant opening times. Although it’s unlikely to become as much of a regional treasure of Chester Zoo, what could be a better advertisement for the beautiful city than having your socks scared off?

350 New Homes Will be Built in Ellesmere Port

Ellesmere PortIn fantastic news for the surrounding area, it has been announced that multi million pound housing development on the edge of Ellesmere Port’s town centre have been approved.

The venture will see 300 new houses built in the quaint Cheshire region after planning permissions were granted. Situated on 29 acres of the former HH Robertson site on Cromwell Road, the emphasis will be on open space for the finished project.

Footpaths and cycle links will be created as well as more accessibility to the train station and the town centre. Trees will be planted, there will be a new avenue on Cromwell Road and the canal footpath will additionally be worked on to allow easier access to the local network of footpaths. Playing fields will also be improved thanks to a £262,000 cash injection from the developer.

St Modwen is the regeneration developer behind this ambitious new project in a move which could not only see housing rise sharply but could also bring in 700 construction jobs for the local area.
“We are delighted to have secured planning consent for the delivery of up to 350 much needed family homes.

“This will provide a significant contribution to the council’s supply of housing land and will regenerate a former brownfield site, delivering a sustainable, high-quality development. The scheme will be complemented by extensive areas of new open space, local transport and town centre access links. We hope that the development will act as a catalyst for the transformation of the wider area.”

As for the marketability of these new homes, it’s estimated that 25% of them will come under the ‘affordable’ bracket. The houses themselves will be a mix of 2 bedroom flats and 2 to 4 bedroom houses.

Councillor Brian Jones: “This is excellent news. That land has been empty for the last 17 years so I’m made up that something is being done with it. We need housing, and especially affordable housing, in the town.”

Preliminary work is expected to commence as early as next year.

Chester Zoo Voted Best Zoo in the UK

Chester ZooIn an announcement that will surprise no-one who’s had the pleasure of spending a day out there, Chester Zoo has been voted the best zoo throughout the whole country, beating out the likes of London Zoo!

11000 animals from all over the world call Chester Zoo home and a very good home at that, according to the report from TripAdvisor. After it was announced as the most popular zoo throughout Britain, this Cheshire zoo continues to go from strength to strength.

The 2014 Travellers’ Choice Awards have been a massive success for the zoo and was voted 2nd throughout Europe and 6th worldwide.

Jamie Christon, managing director of Chester Zoo said: “We’re absolutely delighted.

“Our sincere thanks go to every single person who has come here because, as a registered charity, their visits help us to carry out all of our vital conservation work – saving species from extinction both here in the UK and overseas.”

Marketing officer Julie Griffin also added:“This is the first time we’ve won this award and we’re very, very pleased indeed – particularly as it’s voted for by those working in the travel industry who have been to the zoo, experienced what we have to offer and cast their vote on the back of their visit.

“The zoo is constantly evolving and offering visitors something different to see and experience.”

The passionate zoologists have also been doing their bit overseas to help animals who may find themselves at risk of extinction in the sadly not too distant future. The Ecuador Amazon parrot was in jeopardy of disappearing altogether but now that the 10 representatives from the zoo personally identified the bird in South America, its status as endangered means it can now be properly monitored.

Also in 2014, the zoo have started the islands project; set to give visitors the chance to sample the ecosystems of the Philippines and Indonesia. The £30m venture will bring in a reported £.3m for the local economy, meaning that it will start turning a profit in just under 10 years.

With more announcements and advancements seemingly being made by the day at Chester Zoo, let’s hope that they keep the excellent momentum going.

Grosvenor Park to Be Opened Again by Duke of Westminster

Grosvenor ParkAfter restorations were finally completed, Grosvenor Park is all ready to be opened to the public once again and with the help of a very special guest.

The Duke of Westminster is set to unveil the restorations made to the historic site, a full 147 years after his great ancestor played a huge part in its initial opening way back in 1867. Richard, 2nd Marquess of Westminster, decided to donate 20 acres of his estate to Chester’s citizens so that they could use it as a public park.

Thanks to a big revamp, the park is now likely to be just as amazing as it was for visitors over a decade ago. The Duke will be there on Monday the 28th of July to do the honours after a £2.3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), more than £1m from council coffers and £30,000 from WREN has helped to reinvigorate the flagging landmark.

“I am delighted to be given this opportunity to open a revitalised Grosvenor Park,” he said.

“It is a vital and much-loved part of Chester city centre, and I am grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, WREN and, of course, the council for providing the finds for such an important project.”

A café, public meeting rooms, a training and events pavilion, public toilets and a new natural play area are among some of the changes and additions made.

Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and economy, said: “The Marquess was many years ahead of his time in realising the value that parks would have for urban communities. Over the years his vision has given pleasure to millions of people.

“This programme of restoration will ensure that Grosvenor Park continues to occupy a special place in the life of Chester residents and a wonderful attraction for its visitors.”

No doubt the people of Chester will welcome the re-opening of one of their most iconic places and that it acts as a conduit for everything great in their city for the next 147 years!

“Grosvenor Park” by “www.flickr.com/photos/cezzie901″, license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

300 Jobs Created in Cheshire Car Plant

Vauxhall AstraGreat news for employment prospects in Cheshire as it’s been announced that a car production factory will be looking to take on hundreds of new employees in the near future.

The Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port is aiming to employ 300 new people and the company owned by the US’ General Motors are looking to expand for the first time in over a decade. Considering it was close to closing in 2012, this comes as great news for the area.

The increase is due to increased demand in volume for the Astra: the Vauxhall model that is exclusively produced at the Ellesmere Port location. Along with the Luton van manufacturing arm, 550 new staff will be hired in total and the those currently employed are essentially safeguarded due to recent success.

The all new Astra will begin production towards the end of 2015 and the plant will eventually be able to produce almost 200,000 vehicles per year in a project which has been subject to £125 million in investment.

After the announcement which will see new employees hired at the start of 2015, the chairman of Vauxhall, Tim Tozer, said: “This is great news for Vauxhall and for British manufacturing.

“Both of our UK manufacturing plants have won long contracts with all-new product and as the business strengthens, we now need to take on more people to build these exciting new Vauxhalls.”

Speaking in 2012 when the factory was posed with real jeopardy of closing down, Vince Cable said: “I personally have been to General Motors in the USA twice to plead the case with the top men in the company, to persuade them this was a very good place to be. Here they have a flexible plant and a co-operative Labour force.”

It’s an effort that looks like it’s definitely paid off as the future has never looked clearer for the plant and if it continues to experience success, don’t be surprised to see more jobs created locally too.

“Vauxhall Astra” by www.flickr.com/photos/adspackman, license: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0