Now that we are a family of five, our days of bank holidays being spent in our local pub with friends are long gone. These days, I use this extra day off school to plan a day trip somewhere. Harry is currently studying Roman's at school so we decided to use the first May bank holiday to visit Chesters Roman Fort. We have visited here in the past and with news that they had just opened up a brand new tearoom it was an obvious choice.
A Tearoom on Hadrian's Wall
We started out day with lunch at the new tearoom which is located next to the entrance. There are a handful of tables indoors and lots of seating outside with glorious countryside views. It wasn't too cold so we decided to brave sitting outside.
We arrived at 12noon and discovered that the menu is fairly limited - I asked about children's sandwiches but were told they just had what was on the board. My children are fairly picky and wouldn't really eat ham and pease pudding with salad or the other options on there. You are missing a trick Chester's - I'm sure children's packed lunch boxes with a plain ham/cheese/jam sandwich, a piece of fruit, a small piece of cake and a juice would sell well. Anyway, the children decided on homemade soup that was advertised but we were told it wasn't ready so they ended up with their third choice of a scone, cake and juice which they still enjoyed. It does say on the Chester's Tearoom website that a children's menu is available so hopefully this is in the pipeline.
I ordered a bacon sandwich made with local bacon which was fantastic and Steve ordered a sandwich which was freshly prepared and equally as delicious. They also serve our lemonade of choice, fentiman's. The highlight of our lunch was most definitely the homemade cake - huge slices of rich, crumbly yet moist cake was like some sort of heaven. When we re-visit later in the year I will take our own sandwiches for the children but we will definitely be sampling some more cake. I would highly recommend the Victoria Sponge! Our lunch for 5 was less than £20 so a real bargain too.
Hadrian's Wall Museum
Chesters Roman Fort is home to a collection of almost 11,000 finds from forts and milecastles along Hadrian's Wall. The museum is small but they pack a lot in and there are interesting books and information sheets to read if you'd like to further your knowledge. Entry to the museum is included in admission (or free if you are an English Heritage member).
Roman Cavalry Fort
The Roman forts are full of places to explore and pretend you are a Roman yourself. There are lots of well-placed information signs too which really help you visualise how the forts once may have looked.
Bathhouse and River Views
The Bathhouse is probably our favourite part of Chesters - our children find it highly amusing looking at Roman toilets and learning about communal saunas and changing rooms. This area is right next to the river and you really have to spend a few minutes taking in the glorious view.
Special events at Chester's (or any English Heritage properties for that matter) are always absolutely superb (read about Roman Soldier week last year here). We visited during a Roman falconry day and watched some magnificent flying displays as well as learning how the Roman's used these fantastic birds to their advantage.
Check out these future events which are usually included in admission or charged at an extra £1 per activity:-
Saturday 23rd - 31st May, 11am-5pm - How to be a Roman Soldier
Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st June, 11am-5pm - Dad's Roman Army
Saturday 25th July - 7th August, 11am-5pm - Archaeology Detectives
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August, 11am-5pm - Romans & Gladiators
We enjoyed a wonderful trip to Chesters Roman Fort and would recommend it to anyone. It is wonderful having all of this heritage right on our doorstep. I can't wait to re-visit in August for Gladiators & Romans.
Please check the English Heritage Website for prices and opening times and visit them on facebook to keep up to date with news and events.