Jenny Schippers visits the neighbouring towns with a lot of offer residents and visitors

Linked by road, rail and Metrolink tram, the neighbouring Trafford towns of Altrincham and Sale not only benefit from their proximity to Manchester but also serve their residents locally through their thriving town centres.

Great British Life: Stamford Quarter, AltrinchamStamford Quarter, Altrincham (Image: Archant)

These two popular postcodes, together with Timperley, Sale Moor, Brooklands, and Ashton on Mersey, form a web of suburbs that appeal to families and commuters.

With seven high-performing grammar schools in the area, Trafford maintains a selective education system. Prospective pupils are assessed for five of these desirable schools using the eleven-plus entry examination. Alongside excellent schooling, including comprehensive and academy options, residents have easy access to nature and green spaces.

Sale Water Park offers 152 acres of tranquil countryside and parkland centred around a substantial artificial lake. The park, which runs through green belt along the Mersey River valley, is home to wetland wildlife reserves, a water sports centre, a café and a restaurant, plus miles of tracks and trails to explore.

The Cheshire countryside is never far away, with walkers able to follow the grassy meadows to the River Mersey or the waterside pathway of the Bridgewater Canal towards Dunham Park.

While foodies have always been well catered for in Altrincham, thanks to its bustling market and artisan eateries, Sale is beginning to get people talking (and dining) too.

Great British Life: A computer-generated image of the next stage in the development of Sale's Stanley Square, due to be completed this month. The site has 50 shops including a mix of major UK and independent retailers, more than 300 car parking spaces, a metro station, main bus and taxi linksA computer-generated image of the next stage in the development of Sale's Stanley Square, due to be completed this month. The site has 50 shops including a mix of major UK and independent retailers, more than 300 car parking spaces, a metro station, main bus and taxi links (Image:

The recently redeveloped Stanley Square and FoodHall is generating a real buzz in the town that is helping to attract exciting independent businesses for a slice of the action.

Drink & Dine
With locations in both Sale and Altrincham, Mustard has created two south Manchester diners serving freshly-made comfort food washed down with craft beer, perfectly poured coffee and mouth-watering cocktails.

There are American pancakes and Cali breakfast burritos for brunch, before a delicious day-to-night menu of buttermilk fried chicken, fully-loaded hot dogs, and piled-high burgers. Roti Food & Liquor on Stanley Square flies the flag for Indian food, with a unique Scottish fusion.

The team takes Highland classics including scotch eggs and haggis and adds Indian spices to create street food dishes with a twist. Why not try fish and masala potatoes or wee poori parcels, finishing off with an Asian-spiced deep-fried Mars Bar for dessert?

Aside from comfort food, fine-dining options are easy to find, including Chez Nous Bistro on Marsland Road. Michelin Guide entry The Perfect Match, on Cross Street, a modern British bistro opened by passionate head chef Jacinta (Jazz) Navin (previously at The Savoy Grill in London) and Italian-born sommelier Andrea Follador, has the whole town talking.

This ambitious duo met while working in London and formed a partnership based on a mutual appreciation of food and wine.

Since moving north, Jacinta and Andrea have created their Perfect Match – a reasonably-priced fine-dining restaurant where there is as much focus on the accompanying wine as the dishes themselves.

Sale's Stanley Square development is the cherry on the top of the cake for a place that already benefits from strong transport links, impressive schools, and an attractive housing stock.

With an emphasis on enticing independent businesses to settle in Sale, the town is working hard to create a centre residents can be proud of.

In and around the square, the offerings range from Ashby’s Greengrocers and deli and Josh and Nelly children’s store to Draft Neighbourhood Craft Beer Bar. Close by, on Tatton Road, Emporium M33 is a community hub showcasing 45 individual businesses across three floors, including specialist bookshop B is for Butterfly and Squirrel & Pigeon, a sustainable clothing emporium.

Great British Life: Altrincham Market HouseAltrincham Market House (Image: Archant)

At the other end of Washway Road in Altrincham, is a bustling shopping destination that has truly bounced back from the brink. Voted one of the best places to live in the UK by the Sunday Times for the last five years – making the top spot in 2020 – the town’s remarkable regeneration is thanks almost entirely to the wildly successful Altrincham Market House.

Alongside a collection of artisan food vendors in its indoor dining space, the outdoor covered market is home to a vast selection of local purveyors. Open Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Great British Life: Walton Park, SaleWalton Park, Sale (Image: Archant)

Taking full advantage of the rail and tram network that links Altrincham and Sale, walkers can easily rely on public transport when planning local outings. This 3.5-mile linear route, beginning at Altrincham train station, follows the Bridgewater Canal with the option to incorporate the Timperley flood basin.

After turning right out of the station, turn right again onto Grosvenor Road towards Navigation Road Station. With the station on the right, go left and follow Navigation Road to the end. From here turn right at the Old Packet House onto Manchester Road and then over the bridge before dropping down onto the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal.

Turning left onto the path, there are signs for Timperley flood basin. The detour to incorporate this is approximately half a mile.

On regaining the towpath, continue three-quarters of a mile towards Timperley Station before arriving at Walton Park, home to Walton Perk narrowboat café and a miniature railway operating at weekends.

After a stop for coffee, walk onwards towards Sale where you are greeted with a plethora of pubs, restaurants, and the Waterside theatre.

There is an option here to extend the walk towards Manchester, stopping at the Bridge Inn for lunch before catching the tram at Dane Road back to the starting point in Altrincham.

In the Spotlight

Great British Life: Claire and Sam Pugh, Sam Joseph ChocolatesClaire and Sam Pugh, Sam Joseph Chocolates (Image: Sam Joseph Chocolates)

Claire and Sam Pugh, Sam Joseph Chocolates
Sam and I love having a business in Altrincham as it has a great sense of community.  Ever since we opened our chocolate and patisserie shop inside Altrincham Market eight years ago, we have had incredible support from the community.

There is a great mix of shops on the high street now and we have enjoyed watching the town centre flourish over the years with an influx of small, independent businesses like our own opening up, which is fantastic to see.  We hope to be a part of this brilliant town for many more years.

Why I Love it here

Great British Life: Katy RaticanKaty Ratican (Image: Katy Ratican)

Katy Ratican (@LifeinSale)
Sale is a great place to live, work and visit. It's had a lot of investment (with more to come), which has resulted in the town centre becoming a food and drink destination.

The regeneration of Stanley Square is brilliant for the town. It promotes independent businesses, rather than lower-quality chain restaurants and bars. The town has excellent transport links and some fantastic schools, making it a beacon for families.

One of the things I love most about Sale is that it's a community striving to be the best it can be. There's a lot of change for the better happening and a lot of that change is driven by local people, and it is great to be a part of this.