256 Shotton to Chester

Shotton isn’t really a town in its own right, more a continuation of Connah’s Quay to the west and Queensferry to the east. So it’s a little hard to tell when you’ve arrived, but I recognise the bus stop from yesterday and manage to get off in the right place.

Next comes a brisk walk through the two stations, down the cycle route, and I’m back at Hawarden Bridge. From under one of the arches I take a photograph looking down the River Dee to the road bridge, Flint Power Station, and the forest of pylons.

01 view under Hawarden Bridge, Ruth walking The Wales Coast Path

I’m back on the Wales Coast Path, although this doesn’t really feel like Wales, and neither does it feel like the coast. But I’ve nearly reached the end… only 6 more miles to go. I can’t believe I’m nearly there.

Forwards, then. I don’t cross the river at this point, but carry on along the bank heading east, along a raised ridge on the edge of the marshy area bordering the river.

02 looking towards Queensferry, Ruth hiking to Chester

I take another photograph of this wonderful building on the opposite side, noticing the windows are shuttered up and the place looks abandoned. Shame.

03 building near Hawarden Bridge, Ruth's coastal walk, River Dee

[Eunice has Googled and discovered the building used to be the offices of the old Hawarden Bridge steelworks. A listed building. Now owned by Tatar steel.]

I turn back to take another photo of Hawarden bridge, which looks much better from this side. It was, originally, a swing bridge. But since there is no longer any shipping along the River Dee, the swing mechanism no longer works.

04 Hawarden Bridge, River Dee, Ruth Livingstone

I feel the banks of the River Dee are littered with the memories of this area’s industrial past. Although I’m pleased the pollution has been cleared and the area is a thriving habitat again, I’m also sorry for all the industry we have lost.

Onwards. My grassy path becomes a muddy track. Old Hall Farm, my map says, which sounds familiar until I realise it’s a very common name for farms all over the UK.

05 Old Hall Farm, Queensferry, Ruth's coastal walk

By the side of the track is a tiny, but interesting building. I like the elegance of the structure, but what was it for? Far too small for a house. A pumping station?

06 Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path to Queensferry

The muddy track becomes a grassy track. And there’s a road ahead.

07 Ruth hiking along the Wales Coast Path, River Dee

I turn left along a quiet road and reach Queensferry Bridge, where I notice Green Samaritan signs are stuck on poles nearby. (Why are bridges such a magnet for suicides? I would hate to drown.) Anyway, although not a particularly elegant looking thing, the metal work of the bridge is painted a rather gorgeous blue colour.

08 Queensferry Bridge, Ruth's coastal walk, River Dee

[Later I learn the Queensferry Bridge is actually called the Jubilee Bridge, although locals call it the Blue Bridge – for obvious reasons. It’s a ‘double leaf rolling bascule bridge‘ according to Wikipedia, which means it could open up like Tower Bridge to let shipping through. Sadly the mechanism is no longer needed and no longer works.]

The Wales Coast Path crossed over the Dee at this point, via the bridge. I stop to take photographs looking the back the way I’ve come: Hawarden Bridge and the road bridge beyond, with the towers of the power station and the pylons.

09 view down the River Dee, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path

Ahead of me is another bridge (such a day of bridges, today!). That one carries the A494, a major road. It’s a functional, no-nonsense structure, which makes no pretence at opening for shipping.

10 A494 road bridge, Ruth walking along the River Dee

As I walk nearer to the bridge, I notice the signs on a gantry above. Chester is where I’m heading, but Manchester? I feel a little thrill. Two of my daughters live in Manchester and I suddenly feel very close to them.

11 Manchester road sign, Ruth hiking the River Dee

One last photo behind me – of the Blue Bridge, which looks much more attractive from this viewpoint.

12 Queensferry Bridge, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path, River Dee

Onwards. I face 6 miles of straight-line walking. Everybody who’s done this before me has warned me how boring this section of the walk is. And the river bank does look incredibly featureless. More like a canal than a river. I could be back in the Fens.

13 Wales Coast Path, Ruth hiking along the River Dee to Chester

I sit on the bench (above) and have a quick snack. And then I do something I never normally do: I pull out my phone. I’m going to need some help to survive the tedium of this walk and I plan to listen to a series of podcasts I’ve downloaded.

14 Podcasts saved my life, Ruth Livingstone

With no headphones, I tuck the phone under my rucksack strap, close to my ear.

Onwards. I listen to a TED talk on the financial tragedy in Greece and the meaning of democracy, delivered by the Greek financial minister. Ex-minister. It’s timely because the EU referendum vote is next week. Cyclists pass me.

15 cyclists on the Wales Coast Path, River Dee, Ruth's coastal walk

Next I’m entertained by an amusing sci-fi story, narrated in the second person. Apparently I’ve got a weird rash on my foot and the computer is giving me instructions on how to access the medical services in a space station. It’s an interactive story with various options, all of which are explored, and all end in… (Oh there’s a little boat. Should I wave? No, perhaps not.)

16 a boat, River Dee, Ruth Livingstone

… all options arrive, in one way or another at the same endpoint. Death. It is funnier than it sounds.

Another story. A recently bereaved woman takes a trip on a cruise on some incredibly cold sea on a different planet. Another sci-fi one. It doesn’t end in death. (And I’m overtaken again by a couple towing a child in a trailer.)

17 baby buggy, Wales Coast Path, Ruth walking the River Dee

I come across some more of the little diddly coast path markers embedded in the tarmac.

18 Wales Coast Path signs, Ruth Livingstone19 lone cyclist, Ruth Livingstone walking up the River Dee

It seems rather weird. I’ve come across plaques in the pavement before, but they were much bigger.

Why so small? And why with little arrows that tell me to go either forwards or backwards – when there is nowhere else to go!

Another cyclist overtakes me. In fact, I meet quite a few cyclists. But no walkers. No walker in their right mind would choose to do this particular walk, not unless it was part of a much bigger trek.

I listen to a man explaining how we could survive on Mars. He makes it sound simple. In fact he predicts we’ll have a Mars colony up and running by 2025. Really?

There are cows on the opposite bank. I give them a wave, but they ignore me. Onwards.

20 cows on the River Dee, Ruth Livingstone

And now for something really interesting – a pumping device. The water only appears intermittently, so I have to wait around to catch it in action.

21 pumping something, Ruth on the River Dee

Onwards again. I listen to a man explain how they discovered a black hole that was actually giving out light, only for a fraction of a second, but it was pretty intense. A black hole giving out light?! Now they’re looking for more. How little we really understand about the universe.

A bevy of cyclists come towards me. Serious boys in Lycra. They shout ‘hello’ as they go by.

22 serious cyclists, River Dee, Ruth Livingstone

They remind me of my hubby, who is a keen cyclist. In fact, this walking trips was delayed, and I had to abandon my plan to climb up Snowdon, because he fell off his bike and knocked himself out the evening I was supposed to leave. (Some people will do anything to get attention! Luckily my husband was such a nuisance in A&E – concussion does odd things to your brain – they were glad to throw him out as soon as they could.)

Onwards. Ah, another bridge. Wonderful. I’ve only got just over a mile to go. Nearly there.

23 Higher Ferry bridge, Ruth hiking up the River Dee to Chester

A sign asks me to be more of a tortoise and less of a hare. No problem. Although I’m already the slowest walker I know.

24 tortoise and hare sign, Ruth walking up the River Dee to Chester

And, to prove it, a couple overtake me. (I hate being overtaken.)

25 overtaken, Ruth Livingstone, hiking

During the next stretch I was planning to listen to an explanation of quantum mechanics (I’ve listened to several and am still not much wiser), but I feel my brain has had enough.

Two tall stones are the most interesting thing I’ve come across for a mile or so. Hang on! There’s a line across the path. Is this it? Yes. I’ve reached the end of the Wales Coast Path. Luckily a couple of walkers are coming towards me.
‘Can you take my photo, please?’
‘It’s the end of the Wales Coast Path.’ I can’t help but boast.

26 Ruth Livingstone at the end of the Wales Coast Path

They tell me they’re just setting out to walk the path. And they ask me how I know it’s the end (or beginning). Hmm. Well the line across the path says ‘Welcome to Wales’. But they’re right. It’s not very obvious. Where is the lovely blue and yellow logo?

It’s a little bit of an anti-climax, to be honest. And I had brought a miniature bottle of whisky and a chocolate bar with me to celebrate the occasion. But there isn’t anywhere to sit – no benches, just the rough grass.

I still have a mile to go before I reach Chester. Hey ho. Onwards.

27 final stretch to Chester, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path

And the entrance to Chester isn’t very impressive either. The path ends beside a rather depressing children’s playground, where a group of teenagers are sniffing aerosol out of plastic bags.

When I finally reach the town centre, I climb up onto the city walls. These are almost fully complete and make a truly lovely walk. Chester really is beautiful.

28 Chester, Ruth finished the Wales Coast Path

The end. I’m going home tomorrow.

Miles walked today = 7 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 1,075 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,582 miles

How did I manage to walk 1,075 miles around the Welsh coastline? It’s only supposed to be 870 miles officially, although the website explains the real distance is currently 882 miles. Well, I get lost a lot, take diversions, do a few circular walks when the transport logistics defeat me, and I also count distances to and from bus stops, train stations and car parks.

1,075 miles. Wow!



About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 16 Anglesey and North Wales and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to 256 Shotton to Chester

  1. I love the main photo at the top of the page; that looks to be a decent path to walk/cycle along too. The blue bridge does look very attractive, definitely worth a second shot. You would have been very surprised if those cows had waved back at you! lol
    I assume the tortoise and hare signs are aimed at cyclists rather than walkers? There’s nothing worse than walking along a canal/river towpath and having to move quickly out of the way of an inconsiderate cyclist barging past without slowing down.
    A shame there was no bench at the end of the path, it would have been good to be able to sit down properly for your own little celebration 🙂

    • Yes, I’m sure the signs were aimed at cyclists, who would probably have been travelling too fast to see them! It was a great cycling route, just a bit boring for walking. And the end of the path was a disappointment. Should have a signpost with ‘870 miles to Chpstow’ or something. A missed opportunity to promote the path.

  2. I can’t understand why you go to Chester. I thought you would have gone up the new cycle track from Hawarden Bridge to go round the Wirral, or am I missing something?

    • Hi Conrad, and yes I could have crossed the Hawarden Bridge, in fact, that’s where I’m going to resume my walk on Tuesday. But I did want to complete the whole of the Wales Coast Path, so that meant walking on to Chester. Sometimes I make life difficult for myself 😝

  3. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, at last… congratulations, 1 country down 2 to go!
    I like the idea of listening to podcasts when you had the tedium of that straight line walking. I looked back after 40 mins of walking and could still see the dead straight line.
    At least now you can re-start at Shotton and get the train back. Remember the route I advised and try and aim for Kirby, Hoylake or Manor Road. Remember to change at Bidston.

    • Thanks Alan. Can we call it 1.5 countries down and 1.5 to go?! It makes the task seem smaller 😄 Yes, I’m taking your advice and starting again from Shotton. Not sure how far I’ll make it on the first day. I’m just recovering from shingles (yuck) and feel very, very unfit.

  4. Margaret Wyatt says:

    Well done Ruth, a real achievement completing the Welsh coast path. Looking forward to the next section back on the English coast.
    I have found your blog so helpful. Two years ago I completed the SWCP with my husband. It was a 5 year project to celebrate our 25 wedding anniversary.
    On completion I decided to head back to Poole the following week and carry on walking.
    I haven’t done the sections consecutively as often it’s just a day trip on the train from London. Initially I used David Bathursts book Walking the South Coast then I discovered your blog. I learned to avoid most of your ‘mistakes’ but made some of my own.
    Husband now walks some stretches with me and we are just back from 4 days on the Norfolk / Suffolf coast. Your name is constantly on our lips ‘ what did Ruth do here ? What did Ruth say about this stretch etc. ?
    So many thanks Ruth. Keep walking and keep blogging x

    • Hi Margaret. Congrats on completing the SWCP. It’s a long trail and a tough one. Norfolk and Suffolk must seem easy-peasy in comparison. I was really worried by the thought that you keep asking yourselves ‘what did Ruth do here?’ – in case I led you astray – until my husband pointed out it was probably so you could do the opposite! Anyway, thank you very much for taking the time to comment and say nice things. I’ve learnt such a lot from people who’ve gone before me, I’m glad to contribute something to those who come after.

  5. jcombe says:

    Congratulations on reaching the end of the Wales coast path and walking the coast of an entire country! I have not done all of west Wales yet, but on walking the north coast I’m afraid I missed out Chester on my walk (but I did take the train there). Instead I crossed the Dee at Hawarden Bridge, followed the path up along the old railway line (now a cycle path) to the A494 and then north on the access road beside the A494 to the A548 junction then took the bridlepath from there to Shotwick. Then I followed footpaths to Puddington and Burton then back along the shoreline to Neston.

    As it happned to get home I had to take the train from Neston to Shotton and change between the two stations at Shotton to take the train onwards to Chester. So I have used both the stations you passed through (called Shotton Low Level and Shotton High Level). I did not enjoy this section but things improve when you get to the Wirral. Even made it out over the sands to Hilbre Island, which was an interesting walk.

    I remember liking that building beside the river too and thought it a shame it was boarded up. I see it still is, but at least it still looks in good condition.

    • I’m looking forward to walking around the Wirral. Was worried about the first section to Neston, but I’m going to follow the new bike lane (which isn’t on my OS map) and now feeling positive about it.

  6. JohnBoy says:

    Ruth, I think that the Red Brick building is the old head office of the John Summers steel works, which was established in Shotton at the turn of the last century. John Summers was, at the time, the largest steel works on the UK, and was eventually absorbed into British Steel (now TATA).
    The line of the River Dee you followed, straight and pretty dull, is not in fact the original line of the Dee. Until the 18th century it followed the line of the border between England and Wales to the north. But at the turn of the last century a new channel (canal) was dug to the south and all the land between the new channel and the old course of the river was reclaimed from the marshes. From what I gather they employed Dutch engineers to reclaim the land, and a great number of old ships were scuttled into the estuary to form a new barrier for the land.
    John summers was a clog maker from Bolton who bought an iron nail making machine to cut out the middle man (nails used to finish the clogs), and as the business expanded he moved into iron and steel making. He purchased 40 acres of the newly reclaimed land for £5 and set up the steel works that still exists there.
    There’s a community north of the new course of the Dee called Sealand…..you can probably guess now how that village got it’s name since it was originally at the bottom of the sea. In fact I used to live in a village called Saughall very close by, and there was still evidence of boat hooks at the bottom of the village. The sea however hadn’t come within a few miles in the last hundred years.

    • Ah. That explains a lot of things: the very boring stretch of river, when riverbanks are usually delightful places to walk, and the funny ‘new’ feeling about the countryside on the north side of the Dee, with limited footpaths, etc. I used to live in the Fens, and the Dutch designed the drainage of the land there too, in order to reclaim it from sea and marsh, so this landscape seems spookily familiar.

  7. Anabel Marsh says:

    Congratulations on completing Wales!

  8. Di Iles says:

    Well done Ruth!!! Another great mission accomplished. Hope you enjoy the Wirral, it’s a real mixed bag so hope you like the contrasts. I’ll be looking out for you if I’m out and about. I live near Thurstaston and work in Hoylake and always walking locally. Hope you manage a few days well earned rest before you continue.

    • Tomorrow I’m walking from Shotton to Neston. Maybe further if I feel up to it, but actually just recovering from shingles, which knocked me out. Sometime in the week I’m doing a photoshoot (!) for Countryfile Magazine, but the day isn’t fixed. I guess it depends on the weather, so my itinerary is very fluid.

      • Di iles says:

        Sorry to hear you’ve been suffering with shingles Ruth, that’s horrible!
        Wonderful to hear about your photo shoot for country file mag. I’ll look forward to seeing that, great magazine! Hope rain holds off tomorrow for you. Look forward to reading how you view my neck of the woods. The estuary is abundant with bird life too which adds to the interest.

  9. Jacquie Butler says:

    Congratulations on completing the Wales Coast Path! Sorry you are having to cope with shingles.
    Inspired by your blog we started on the Pembrokeshire coast path last weekend – only to be slightly defeated by the total lack of buses on a Sunday round Tenby (Silcox coaches having gone bust but still appearing on travel line which we use to plan).However, that meant we used Sunday to walk the Castlemartin ranges using the little Coastal Cruiser bus. Hopefully we’ll complete somewhat quicker than the 11 years we spent on the SWCP!
    It’s interesting to compare photos – not just photographically but the subjects chosen. Usually has me thinking now why didn’t I photograph that.
    Love your blog – thank you.

    • Hi Jacquie, and thank you. Shingles is better now. I know you’ll love the Pembrokeshire coast. Yes, trying to catch buses on a Sunday can be nightmare and sorry to hear Silcox went bust 😦 Hope you enjoyed the coastal bus and the Castlemartin ranges – I remember the bus driver was a real character, who kept hopping off the bus for a fag! Happy walking 😄 Best wishes, Ruth

  10. El D says:

    Well done, Ruth. I’ve enjoyed your Welsh Walks though I’ve never actually walked any! (Have lazed on the beach at Barmouth and Criccieth, though!). We couldn’t understand those “Drop your pace” notices, either, and assumed they must be for cyclists – though clearly they’d not see them as they whizz past us walkers at 40mph! Good luck with your magazine photoshoot.

    • Hi El. Thank you. Nothing wrong with lazing on the beach! Magazine shoot was today and went well, I think, apart from the howling gale. I’m sure I’ll look like a mad woman – wild hair and sand all over my glasses – but probably an accurate portrait… 😏

  11. Llongyfarchiadau cynes!! Warmest of congratulations and farewell … absolutely amazing and will carry on following you on your way so our thoughts will always be with you …

  12. Rita Bower says:

    Congratulations Ruth – an amazing achievement! I’m glad I’m not the only one that does many more miles than the ‘official route’. Detours because of bullocks account for a few extra miles!! (Had to wait for ages cowering behind a barbed wire fence the other weekend!!) How long did it take you to walk Wales altogether? I’m wondering whether I can do ‘Wales in One’ – trying to do it in one year, in the year I reach the big 60! (2018) Thought I’d do Anglesey next year to reduce the mileage a bit. Do you think it’s possible? (Full time working does get in the way!!) Like so many other folk, always find your blog great to read & useful ‘research’ before I do a coastal stretch. Heading to Norfolk in September & looking forward to some relatively easy walking!

    Hope you feel much better soon. Congratulations again – you’re making fantastic progress.

    • Hi Rita, I started from Chepstow in Oct 2014 and finished beg of July 2016 – so about 21 months. This past year I’ve not been working, so put in some long walking stints 🙂
      Excluding Anglesey, but bearing in mind you always walk further than the set route, let’s say it’s 800 miles. If you manage 15 miles a day, it would take you 60 days, or 30 weekends. So, yes it’s doable, just! Hope you enjoy Norfolk in September 😀

  13. Bravo for completing the Wales Coast Path! I also took the riverside route into Chester, although in my case that had less to do with coast path completism and more to do with the fact that Chester is lovely.

  14. Alexis1 says:

    Congratulations on completing the Wales Coast Path. I am really enjoying reading your blog postings and seeing your photos. Well done!

  15. Congratulations on finishing the WCP, I have just ‘binged’ on your last few blogs, as I have just come back from walking Hartlepool to Sandsend – blimey some of it was grim, but as you know you take the rough with the smooth, and the Cleveland Way is fabulous.
    Off again soon, down to Somerset and I have used your blogs for research on how to deal with the dreaded Weston – Clevedon section and onto Shirehampton.

    Keep those blogs coming!

    Best wishes, Gemma.

    • Thank you Gema. Grim? Yes, you certainly have to take the rough with the smooth. Have you finished the Cleveland Way then? Well done. I hear it’s lovely.

      • Hi Ruth,
        If only! No I walked four days in a row, which is about my limit, so only done Cleveland Way from Saltburn to Sandsend (Almost Whitby) – the idea is next spring to get at least to Filey Brigg, which will complete the sea part of Cleveland Way. I took a day off to visit York and the Wensleydale Railway, then had to head home again…but, before schools go back,I will be hitting the coast in Somerset, Ayrshire and Lincs!

        Best wishes

  16. Oh, I also meant to ask, do you have any details on those sci-fi podcasts? The stories sound fascinating. I have occasionally had to numb the dullness of a particularly dull section with music but would prefer something a bit more cerebral occasionally!

  17. Chris Elliott says:

    Well done Ruth on completing the Wales coastal path. You’ll soon be in Scotland! I’m currently approaching Oban and will give you a more detailed update when I finish for the year at the end of September. All the best. Chris Elliott

  18. babsandnancy says:

    Congratulations for finishing Wales, keeping us all entertained and managing to fit so many extra miles in. Do you reckon you’ll get to Scotland this year?

    • Here’s hoping I’ll reach the border soon, but it depends on the weather 😀
      And I’m in no hurry really.
      But I do feel Scotland is weighing on my mind, and I know I’ll feel better once I’ve tackled a section.

  19. theresagreen says:

    Huge congratulations on completing the Wales Coast Path and thank you for all the information and insights into places and features therof, both familiar and otherwise. An inspiration to women that walk alone or that aspire to do so. Looking forward to your next stretch that I’m barely acquainted with at all. Looking forward to reading the book too!

  20. Marie Keates says:

    Well done! What a shame there was no bench or sign though. I think the problem is the people who make these paths and trails are not actually walkers so they don’t realise how welcome a bench is and how useful a sign is. Despite the tedium at the end it looked like a good walk and I loved all the bridges, especially the blue one.

  21. Margaret Wyatt says:

    Hi Ruth, still reading your blog to ‘see what Ruth did’ before we head out along the coast. This time we have 5 days of walking along the Wirral and across to Liverpool and beyond starting at the Welsh border so your blog has been so useful. I’ve been reading it out whilst husband follows if on the map spread out across the bed in the Premier Inn in Birkenhead, an ideal location for bus, train and ferry.

    • I hope you both like The Wirral, Margaret. I really enjoyed it, and it was an area I’d never been to before. If you can, I would advise talking the time to walk out to Hilbre Island, because that was one of my more memorable moments in Wirral. Just make sure you check the tide times before you set out, and you WILL get your feet wet, so choose footwear accordingly. I’m a big fan of Premier Inns too!

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