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Thanks to the 10th Earl of Stamford for this gift
Dunham Massey (Manchester)
Member Name: catsholiday
Dunham Massey (Manchester)
Date: 11/09/10, updated on 27/10/11 (222 review reads)
Advantages: Beautiful grounds, lovely walks, a perfect journey break near Manchester
Disadvantages: Not all walks are wheel chair friendly, toilets crowded
Where is this?
Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4SJ
Telephone: 0161 941 1025
This is one of the many National Trust ( NT) properties that can be found in Cheshire which seems to have quite a number compared to Derbyshire. The main park is open all year round from 9am to 5pm or 4pm when dark early. The restaurant and shop seem to follow the same sort of dates but do not open until 10.30am .the garden also seems to be open most days and date throughout the year and opens at 11 am closing at 4pm or 5.30 depending on the season. The main house is not open on Thursdays and is only open 27 Feb - 31 Oct 10 this year once again from 11am till 5pm.The Mill is the same as the house but closes at 4pm. The White Cottage is only open on the last Sunday of the month only from 28 Mar - 31 Oct 10 and all visits must be booked on 0161 928 0075 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are thinking of going then I would check the website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-dunhammasse y.
Prices for Admission:
For parking the price for non NT members is £5 free for members unlike Tatton Park that charge members the same £5 as non-members.
House and Garden adult £8.59 and child £4.70, family tickets £3.50
Garden only: Adult £6.00, child £3.00 and family £15.00.You can choose to Gift Aid you entry fee and add an extra £1 about to each of those prices other than parking should you wish.
We decided to stop here for a visit when we were taking our daughter (the one whose car caught fire) back from her stay with us. They live in Manchester so it made a nice break for a picnic lunch and a stretch of the legs. It is meant that granddaughter could have a bit of time outside the car seat and have a bite to eat too.
Dunham Massey is in a lovely Cheshire village and is so close to Manchester that if you lived nearby it is a very convenient place to come to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. This is a place where you can feel that you are in the countryside enjoying fresh air and you bring you dog so long as you stay in the park or on the set walks and keep it on a lead.
As we are NT members we parked for free and made our way to the entrance. Should you wish to just use the park and the shop and restaurant area you can do this without any extra fee. You just go around the entrance and follow the signs for the toilets. As we had been in the car for an hour or so this was out first stop.
These are okay. They are clean and busy. As usual on a Sunday afternoon there was a queue for the ladies. The baby change facility was interesting as when my daughter went to change her baby she went in and the light came on. Halfway through changing baby the light went off. She had baby on the change table but was in the dark and the light button was across a large room by the door. Very tricky, as she then had to pick up baby and feel her way to the door to re push the button. I think I would suggest two people going if possible.
I realize this is an unusual way to go about visiting a NT place but this is being written as we did our visit and this was the order of our needs.
We had planned a picnic and I had packed sandwiches but we were tempted by the possibility of a nice cuppa and a high chair so we made our way up in the small and very slow lift upstairs to the restaurant. The restaurant is in the converted stables and carriage block while the toilet building was the bakery and brew house. The top of the stable and carriage building is where the restaurant is where as below you find the shops.
The restaurant was very busy and there was a queue but we were able to bypass most of the people as they were waiting for full meals and we just wanted a cup of tea. At least that was what we had planned until we saw a little tray with scones and cream and some shortbread that together with to cups of tea came to £5.50 so we succumbed to temptation. We just added an extra cup of tea and shared the food between the three and a half of us.
We sat in the family section where they had provided high chairs, , a table with some toys and an area with kettle and microwave for heating baby foods. I thought this was an excellent idea. There was also more room for the pushchairs where you could keep an eye on yours while eating your food. There also didn't seem to be a problem with us eating our sandwiches brought from home either which I thought was nice.
Okay so now we were toileted and fed where do we go now?
We made our way out again in order to come in through the entrance to collect our tickets. We had to show our NT membership cards and collect tickets for the garden/house. Everyone has to collect these tickets in order to get into the garden or house you can't just show your NT membership card there.
These are not formal gardens in the gardening sense. They are quite natural and with plenty of large trees for shade, a small stream meanders through with a bridge over taking from one section to the next. Dunham Massey has Britain's largest winter garden set in a huge 7 acres. There are about 700 different plant types and 1,600 shrubs specially bred to provide either winter bark interest, flower or fruit in winter or have autumn colour, scent or sound.
The planting of this garden was done with the help of volunteers and 1,500 local school children and includes planting of over 200,000 bulbs.
We were there in late summer and there were still quite a number of flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants although they were coming to the end of their prime flowering. I would like to go back and see the garden in the winter one day when we are on our way over to visit daughter and family and then again in spring to see all the bulbs,. January and February would be interesting if they have planted snowdrops.
We enjoyed the fact that we could walk on hard gravel paths with the push chair and admire the beautiful ancient trees as well as the beds and borders. It was a large garden that you could enjoy a really good walk around not just a small display garden showing particular plants.
A bit about Dunham Massey:
This park has been popular with Manchester city folk for over two hundred years. It is thanks to the generosity of the 10th Earl of Stamford that the NT now own thus beautiful area as he bequeathed his entire estate to the NT in 1976. The NT now manages these 3,200 acres so that future generations can enjoy this lovely walled park land with its fallow deer.
This hunting park has a very long history as there is evidence of a Norman castle here. Wild boar and deer were hunted before the first mention of a park which was in 1362. By 1697 there are pictures showing a moated hall and a fenced park. During the Industrial revolution Dunham became very popular with Mancunians escaping the smoggy city for a breath of fresh air. They would get there on the railway and apparently on Whitsun afternoon in 1843 there were over 20,000 visitors.
The estate is managed very carefully to maintain a balanced eco system of unusual grasses, deer which have to be limited in their numbers by culling to about 150. There are other native fungi, birds, bats and insects that also enjoy the parkland along with the many human visitors.
Walks around Dunham:
The History walk:
This is the one we did as our time was limited. The distance is quite short about 600metres and this takes about 20 minutes. The walk was chosen by us as we had the pushchair and this is all wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Really all you are doing is wandering around the main house and buildings area on a good path. You start at the Clock tower and walk across the moat where you can turn and look at the fact that Dunham Hall was built on a mound for defence purposes and surrounded by the moat. You walk past the limbless oak which is an ancient dead tree that is supposed to be about 400 years old. You then pass the cottages which were formerly a barn and then converted into homes for the staff in 1921. Round a bit further you pass the stables and on to the stallion pound where brood mares were mated from 1720 onwards. The Elizabethan Mill which is open to the public was used for grinding corn originally then as a saw mill. Keep going on round still further you come back to the stable yard and the restaurant and shops again.
This is quite a short walk, in fact the shortest of all the possible walks in Dunham Massey. The other possible walks include a Nature Walk which is 2.5km and this takes an hour to an hour and a half and is okay for pushchairs but not wheel chairs. The fallow Deer Walk is 3.5km and takes an hour and a half to two hours and is not suitable for either pushchairs or wheel chairs and can be muddy at certain times of the year.
The house or hall is a fine looking Georgian building from the outside. It stands square and solid overlooking the gardens and the courtyard behind. We didn't go into the house as we had baby with us but I understand that is worth a visit as it has some interesting treasures and stories about the family and its scandals. Next time we go I plan on looking inside the hall.
I really like the sound of this place. How do I get there?
By Bus : Warrington Coachways No 38 Altrincham Interchange -Warrington
By car: 3 miles south west of Altrincham off A56: From M6 use exit 19; From the M56 take exit 7
By train: From Altrincham station 3 miles; and from Hale it is 2.6 miles on foot
On Foot: close to Trans-Pennine Trail and Bridgewater Canal and the ordnance survey ref is: 109:SJ735874
By bicycle: NCN62, 1 mile have a look at local cycle routes on the National Cycle Network website
This is certainly worth a visit at least once but we plan on a number of visits now that we have found this gem of a NT property with its lovely gardens and park. The hall is still to be explored by us and one day we might mange the deer walk if we put grandchild in a baby carry sling instead of a push chair. This place is very much recommended by my family as a reasonably priced (free to NT members like us) place to enjoy a cuppa and a wander round some lovely gardens.
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Summary: A great countryside place to visit just outside Manchester city
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