Cheshire Boxing Day Walk: Dunham Massey (7 miles)
The length of this walk means it might not be suitable for the youngest members of the family, but it’s a great way to burn off that Christmas pudding!
The walk below appears exactly as it does in our book, Cheshire Year Round Walks, complete with map, pictures and step-by-step directions. You can even click here to download it and take it with you.
Snowdrops in the wild are not that easy to come by, but if you want to be sure of a real spectacle, take this walk through the grounds of National Trust-owned Dunham Massey, where some three hundred thousand create a magical carpet of white in the Winter Garden. Boxing Day might be a tad early for them, but you never know!
And there’s yet more to this walk than snowdrops. The historic Bridgewater Canal, the attractive Trans Pennine Trail, the pretty estate village of Dunham Town and the herd of fallow deer that roam the grounds of Dunham Massey all ensure that it’s an interesting ramble. What’s more, most of the walk is on hard surface, and so will be manageable even in the wettest of weather.
1 From the car park, go through the gate to join the Trans Pennine Trail, and turn left. The Trans Pennine Trail is a 205-mile-long cycling or walking route between Southport on Merseyside and Hornsea in East Yorkshire. After about three quarters of a mile, you reach the first bridge - carry on along the track for another three quarters of a mile to its end at Oldfield Brow.
2 Turn right along the road, and in about 100 metres, go down the wooden steps to join the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal. Turn right, and keep ahead for about a mile to reach the first bridge. In the 1750s, the Duke of Bridgewater came up with the novel idea of creating a water channel to transport coal from his mines at Worsley into Manchester. So successful was this innovation that within 30 years the whole country was in the grip of ‘canal mania’. Here, you walk on the western extension of that first canal, opened in 1776.
3 Leave the towpath here, and cross the humpback bridge with care. Walk along the roadside pavement, passing the Axe & Cleaver pub, and continue into the village of Dunham Town.
After a right-hand bend (with Lavender Barn Tea Room on the right), the road forks. Go left here into Charcoal Lane, and continue for 100 metres or so, to where Oldfield Lane joins from the left.
4 Here, take the signed cross-field path between two lanes. In the next field, keep ahead beside the hedge, then cross a stile into the golf course. Now, go diagonally right to join a tarmacked path.
5 The path bends round, passes a small toilet block, and then forks. Go right, and in about forty metres, a yellow-topped post stands on your right. Look behind you and to the right (i.e., turn through about 120º) to see a similar post on the edge of the woodland. Cross the turf to reach this, then continue through the woods to the road.
6 A ladder stile into the grounds of Dunham Massey Park is now diagonally opposite. Cross this stile, and in about 100 metres, go left on a lesser path that leads through the parkland to reach gated enclosures. Keep straight ahead through these, ignoring the path off to the right between them. After a long woodland stretch, where deer often graze, and a lake (Island Pool), you arrive in front of Dunham Massey Hall.
7 Leaving the buildings on your right, bear left downhill, and cross another ladder stile to leave the grounds. A hard-surfaced path now leads to a former mill on the River Bollin. Cross the footbridge, and continue past the Swan With Two Nicks pub. At the road junction, keep right on a cobbled track.
8 Under the bridge, go up the steps on the right, and turn left on the towpath. You now have a canal-side walk of about three quarters of a mile, at one point crossing an aqueduct over the River Bollin. A constriction in the canal signals another bridge. Just before this, go down the slope to join the road. Continue left along the pavement to reach the village of Dunham Woodhouses.
9 In the village, keep right to pass the Vine Inn, and continue to the junction at the Rope and Anchor. Keep right here, and in a couple of minutes the Trans Pennine Trail crosses your road. Turn right here, and continue for 100 metres to the car park.
- Alex Batho