Mothers’ Union members from Whitegate and Little Budworth chose St Swithun’s Day for an outing to Chester and a cruise on the River Dee – and no, it didn’t rain, so we can safely assume that the weather is set fair for the next 40 days!
The boat, the Jackie, is operated by Chester Boats and leaves The Groves each day at midday for a two-hour trip up river, to the Iron Bridge on the Duke of Westminster’s estate. The clear commentary gives interesting bits and pieces about local history, the River Dee itself and the prominent buildings along the route. Did you know, for example that the circular red-brick tower that stands near the canal at Boughton is the Chester Shot Tower, a remnant of the lead industry in the city, the oldest of only three remaining in the country? It was used to make lead shot for muskets in the Napoleonic Wars and was last used as recently as 2001.
As you leave the city, the views are of the beautiful houses with gardens sweeping down to the river bank and opposite them, the flat landscape of the Chester Meadows. From there, it’s out to open country and views of ducks, geese, swans, herons and fishermen. The boat turns back for home at the Iron Bridge, an elegant blue and white arch which crosses the Dee between Aldford and Eaton in a single 50 metre span. Designed by Thomas Telford for the 1st Marquis of Westminster, it’s a copy of Telford’s famous structure at Ironbridge itself.
As we travelled and admired the countryside, we tucked into our picnic lunches and chatted, laughed and shared an idyllic couple of hours, entertained from time to time by Lily’s singing.
Perhaps I should say that Lily wasn’t the cabaret artist, she was the youngest member of our group, Diana’s grand-daughter, who at just three, shows real musical promise!