South Manchester walk - Altrincham to Dunham Town
- Credit: Paul Taylor
Take a walk in Trafford and ponder history dating back to the Domesday Book.
I'm always rather amused to find myself in Dunham Town. Because it isn't. A town, that is. But what it lacks in urban vitality, Dunham Town makes up for in longevity. Yes, it's one of many Cheshire place names to have been mentioned in the Domesday Book - as Donehame - which means that village life has endured at least a millennium.
Dunham's name became bound up with that of Hamon de Massey, who became lord of all he surveyed in these parts after the Norman Conquest, so Dunham Massey is the name of both the civil parish hereabouts and the Grade 1 listed 17th century hall which has been a well-deserved magnet for visitors for so long.
This walk does not take us to the hall, however. We begin in the very centre of Altrincham, strolling out of town through some desirable postcodes and then crossing Dunham Forest Golf and Country Club's course to Dunham Town. A refreshment stop, perhaps, at the Axe and Cleaver before returning to Altrincham centre along the Bridgewater Canal.
Interesting canalside landmarks include the 1897 Linotype Works - once the hub of an urban village employing 10,000 people to produce typesetting machinery for the newspaper industry - and Urban Splash's Budeberg apartment project, which juts out over the canal like the prows of a pair of cruise ships. The two images of crumbling industrial heritage and sleek 21st century architecture, just a few yards apart, provide a striking counterpoint, inviting you to muse upon the nature of Altrincham, old and new.
1. The starting point is Goose Green multi-storey car park (5 Denmark Street, Altrincham WA14 2FF). But you could also arrive by tram, train or bus at Altrincham Interchange. If using public transport, exit the interchange and head left up Stamford New Road until you reach Regent Road on the right, and turn into it. If you arrive by car, exit Goose Green car park towards the main shopping area, making your way through the cobbled courtyard of Goose Green, to Stamford New Road. Cross over towards David M Robinson jewellers and go up Regent Road. A hundred metres or so later, go left into New Street, following it to the top.
2. Go right into The Downs and immediately right along Woodville Road, then soon after left into Bowdon Road. Reaching St Margaret's Road, go right and stay on this road until it reaches the main road with St Margaret's Church opposite. Cross over and go left. You will soon see a sign for Dunham Forest Golf and Country Club. After crossing over the top of Bradgate Road, take the footpath signposted Dunham Town, forking right almost immediately and continuing as the path widens and views over the golf course open up on either side.
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3. At a junction of paths, keep on the main track as it sweeps right across the fairway, then follow it to the left, passing a compound on your right, taking the first footpath on the right a few metres later back into the woods. Emerging from the trees, head straight across the golf course following the blue 'caution' signs. After passing through a wooden gate, head right along the field edge, crossing two fields to reach the narrow Oldfield Lane.
4. Go left along the lane, but very soon after, cross a stile on the right onto a footpath which takes you to School Lane in Dunham Town. Go right here, passing St Mark's Church, the village shop, the Axe and Cleaver pub and the village hall. After crossing the narrow bridge over the canal, turn sharp right down to the canal and go left along the towpath.
5. There's a long stretch now on the towpath, and in damp weather the first stretch may be slithery. Thankfully, you will soon reach a section where the towpath is properly surfaced. After about a mile, you pass under Seamon's Moss Bridge. Continue for about another mile, passing the 1897 Linotype Works and Urban Splash's distinctive Budenberg apartment complex. Soon after you reach a large road bridge. Pass under it and a few metres later take the steps on the left into a retail park.
6. Go left and left again to take the bridge over the canal. Go left into Navigation Road, passing The Old Packet House. Just before you reach the level crossing at Navigation Road station, go right into Grosvenor Road, and follow it all the way to Altrincham town centre. Reaching Barringtons Hotel, head left to reach Altrincham Interchange, or continue up Stamford New Road until Altrincham Hospital, turning left into Goose Green to reach the car park.
Area of Walk: Altrincham and Dunham Town
Distance: 5 1/2 miles
Time to allow: 2 1/2 hours
Map: OS Landranger 109
Refreshments: Axe and Cleaver, School Lane, Altrincham WA14 4SE; The Old Packet House, 1 Navigation Rd, Altrincham WA14 1LW