by Rachel Quayle
Dappled with green spaces, and more canine friendly establishments than you can shake a stick at, Chester is the ideal location for a dog day out
Walk this way
Well-trodden dog walking spots in Chester include The Roman Gardens, the amphitheater, Grosvenor Park, and The Groves also known as the city’s riverside promenade. Just over the Old Dee Bridge lies neighboring Handbridge. Home to The Meadows, this lush beauty spot is a vast space to explore on four legs or two, and feels a world away from the bustling city that’s visible beyond the water. Handbridge is also where you’ll find Edgar’s Field, which plays host to Minerva’s Shrine. This stone carving has guarded Chester for over 1800 years, and is the only monument of its kind in Western Europe that remains in its original location. So best not to let your dog relive themselves in its presence, or you might unleash the wrath of the Roman Goddess of war.
For a more spacious adventure, Chester Racecourse or RooDee to use its Saxon name, is open to the public and their four-legged friends, for a stomp around the 1.1-mile track, or to take advantage of the 56 acres of open grass within. Although dogs aren’t permitted at race meets, they are more than welcome at The White Horse, the pub on the course, and also at the regular Polo matches over the summer months, because dogs deserve their Pretty Woman moment too.
To take advantage of Chester’s café society culture, the best stroll for stopping places would have to be the grade 1 listed City Walls. This 1.8-mile loop encircles the site of the Mediaeval City. They are considered to be the best-preserved city walls in Great Britain, with unparalleled views of Chester’s attractions such as the Cathedral, the Eastgate Clock and the Amphitheater. Many locals and visitors alike take a walk-through time with their canine companion in tow, on this historical lap of Chester. There are a plethora of pit stops en route. If you follow the steps down the City Walls Bridge, you will find yourself on Northgate Street, a road currently staking it’s claim as the epicenter of Chester’s independent food scene.
Not one, but three restaurants in the vicinity have been awarded coveted spots in the Michelin Guide. Authentic Iberian Tapas bar Porta accept dogs on the covered terrace outside. For seasonal small plates and excellent wine, Covino invite you to bring your well-behaved dogs indoors. Around the corner on The Walls themselves lies Hypha who are dog friendly throughout. This trailblazing restaurant was one of the first in the world to be awarded a Michelin Green Star. Should you fancy something less fine dining and more stomach lining, award winning café Marmalade serve the best in homemade fayre, from scones and cakes to butchers' best sausage butties. All can be enjoyed with your pooch in the homely seating area, but in warmer times their take away picnic boxes crammed full of in house baked goodies are portable perfection.
In fact, there are over sixty restaurants and cafés in the city center who allow dogs to join the dining action. With Chester’s al fresco renaissance, the tally is increased by a further twenty establishments who now have the outdoor terrace space to cater for canine customers. An itemised list of participating eateries can be found over on the Experience Chester website, where you will also find the dog friendly shopping guide. Over one hundred shops in the city center allow you to browse with your hound. Chester’s independent emporiums are well represented, with the likes of Chester Boutique, City Gate menswear, and new lifestyle boutique, Epicurean who sell independent fashion and homeware brands. Whilst you might never have thought it, national stores such as Jigsaw, Loake Shoemakers, Boodles, Space NK, Hobbs, Reiss, Flannels and The White Company are all animal friendly, too. The high street is more accommodating than ever to our puppy pals.
Putting the tail in retail therapy
Having spent a day or so exploring the city, it is only right to treat the good boy or girl in your life. Inside Chester Market is a relatively new stall called The Pet Patch. Speak to owner Chris and its clear within seconds that his passion and knowledge of animals and their nutrition is astounding. He started his business having been disgruntled by the main stream dog food offering and has worked with veterinary nurses, dog nutritionists, and even a canine masseuse, to source and provide only the best food and treats around. Lots of items in the shop are locally sourced, and only natural produce will ever make it to the shelves. As well as stocking handmade leather collars and leads which can be made to order, and fun dog toys which were all road tested by his own pet for durability beforehand, you will find everything from doggy tapas and sushi training treats to peanut butter filled antlers or a buffalo horn. The perfect distraction whilst you explore the rest of the award-winning indoor market. Why not sample the Menai oysters at The Sandbar Seafood Shack, the French patisseries from Pastry Pedaleur or pop a bottle of Perrier-Jouët at Paysan. Just be sure to raise a glass to your furry companion and toast to Chester, the city that loves them.