With my knee having a bit of a grumble the other weekend, we decided to take it easy (and free) so visited Dunham Massey for a stroll around the grounds. It is not far from home and as we are National Trust members, it proves to be a really cheap day out, especially with a picnic in tow.
With it being fairly dry and crisp, we didn’t need to get kitted out in our full hiking gear or wellies so it was quick to get out of the house and head straight there along the M60 then onto the M56.
We arrived into the car park to the most glorious winter afternoon sky. Beautiful blue, with the golden haze of the sun just bordering the trees and hedgerows in the distance. If you like to picnic in the car too (for the very cold days) I would recommend taking the first left turn after the parking booth, then the first right. There you can find some spaces that look over the Dunham Massey farmland and village area. Far better than staring at some other cars!
Although you have to pay for parking if you’re not a member, the grounds are free to explore and enjoy. Only the house and garden require tickets which are paid for. To be honest, if you live around this way, I would thoroughly recommend that you consider becoming a member (I get no commission for saying this!) as you can fill your summer and winter with plenty of fresh air and walks. We have loads of places in the North West and around Wales too – perfect for those holidays and camping trips. We fill all our rainy camping days with exploring National Trust.
Anyway! There is loads of open space for playing with the kids, neatly paved areas for walking with buggies and wheelchairs and a dog play area near to the picnic area near to the car park. Dogs do need to be on leads within the grounds though. There are also some lovely walks that you can take outside the grounds which take you through the village, past the golf course and through some woods – definitely worth a look and the do can come off lead there too.
If you are a fan of autumnal colours, this is the best time to visit Dunham Massey as the tress are all turning and the sun catches them beautifully. Every path that you take will give you that warm golden glow as the sun shines through the amber leaves and onto the lush green and frosted grass. love this time of year at Dunham Massey because you get to see more of the park through little gaps between the plants. It is like a different park. Oh yeah and you can see the deer too.
One thing you notice as soon as you arrive at Dunham Massey is how family friendly it is. I love seeing families out with their kids enjoying a walk or playing in the fresh air – there’s nothing like it! Plus, I believe it tires the children out so makes for a nice quiet evening too. (So I’ve been told!) Even though we don’t have kids there is plenty of space for us to do our own thing while the families and children enjoy playing on the grass or wandering around. There is more than enough room and walking options of you want to stay away from the fun and games too.
Walking the Perimeter
We decided to head around the edge of the park towards the deer sanctuary. It is both sheltered by the tree-lined paths and also takes you along hard standing which worked out well for us as some of the grassy areas were a bit soggy.
The path guides you around past the small lake and up towards the woods. In Autumn it can be fun trying to spot the deer camouflaged in the golden leaves and sunshine. You’d be surprised how well they blend in!
Space for everyone
One of my favourite things about visiting Dunham Massey is that there always seems to be space for everyone. We have been on some really busy days and this visit was fairly busy too. Yet there is always room to have space for yourself. The kids can scoot along, play and run about. The dogs are on leads, but have room to move about and everyone has space around them to go their own speed. We like to take a brisk walk and have never had any problem getting around with other people taking slow wanders. (I know I was supposed to be taking it easy, but I’m not good at that! A little limp here and there isn’t too bad, right?)
As you follow the path round you come to the gated area (to protect the plants from the deer and their munchy mouths) where you get to enjoy even more tranquility. Art this time of year the ferns have died down and the leaves have fallen from the trees, but it is still lovely to wander as the birds catch insects and worms. It’s a great place to take pictures of frost too – there aren’t too many people wanting to get past you as you snap away!
Back on track
Once you have completed the gated area you come back into the main park. It is at the top of this stretch that you can leave and explore Dunham Massey Village or even take a wander down to the Brewery (which we are still yet to visit!)
If you’re staying in the park, just continue to follow the well laid path. It will bring you around the walls of the park and back towards the house where the deer tend to rest and the kids are playing.
Of course stopping to enjoy the lake on your way past is a must! You will know when you’re near because of all the people holding up their phones and cameras towards the trees – I have never been when there hasn’t been at least one person taking a snap or two. And rightly so, the lake is stunning and catches the sun and clouds perfectly. You can often see nesting birds in the spring too.
As we made our way back out of the park toward the car we were treated to the most gorgeous view of the sun setting behind the clock tower with the blue skies above.
It is times like that when you realise that if you weren’t out there you would miss the beauty! It is so easy to stay inside during the winter months avoiding the cold and the wind, but it really is a time when you can enjoy the sunrise and sunset without the early morning get up! If it’s one thing I want to do this winter, it is to encourage you to get outside more often and enjoying the beauty of the season!
As you wander back to the car, you can enjoy the views over the lake by the visitor’s centre and perhaps buy some duck food from the gift shop to feed them.
Back to the car
As we drew back to the car for our pre-drive brew, we saw that the sky was giving us yet another treat. The glorious glow of the sun setting behind the trees. A perfect view for a cup of tea and to end this visit to Dunham Massey. You can see why we choose to park here and walk to the entrance rather than get as close as possible! You don’t want to bypass views and skies like these!
If you’re planning what to get up to this weekend, maybe you could take a visit to Dunham Massey? Plenty to do for all the family, a great place for a picnic and views and nature that will get you feeling refreshed and vitalised!
Gosh, is it really only Tuesday?! I need to get out for a some walks and adventures to get me through to the weekend!
Have a great day! And make sure to get outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery.
What makes you get outside for some walking in the winter? What tips do you have to get the most out of your outside time in the colder months?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂
Dunham Massey (National Trust)
Woodhouse Ln, Altrincham WA14 4SJ
Features: Picnic Area, Flat Paths, Parking (£6 to non-National Trust Members), Toilets, Cafe, Restaurant, Gift Shop, Plant Sales, House and Garden (free to National Trust Members), Dog Play Area, Dogs on leads in grounds, Nature, Deer, Flat Grass areas for playing, Family Friendly
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