Discover the hidden treasures of Altrincham

·4-min read
Photo credit: © National Trust Images/Matthew Antrobus
Photo credit: © National Trust Images/Matthew Antrobus

Cheshire’s Altrincham is the quintessential postcard market town, with its polite cobbled streets, picturesque historic architecture and an abundance of independent shops, cafés and restaurants. Often touted as one of the best places to live in the UK, it’s also a prize for visitors who can enjoy the charming town centre, which is flanked by the glitzy, boutique-stuffed Hale; Bowdon, with its grand Victorian villas and oak-lined avenues; and open, estate-peppered Cheshire country.


Explore the grounds of Dunham Massey estate

A majestic neo-classical home, manicured formal gardens and a sprawling deer park, the National Trust-managed Dunham Massey is an easy walk from Altrincham town; although outside of the dryer summer months, a pair of robust wellingtons will come in handy for the more scenic routes, via Dunham Forest Country Club and the painterly sunflower fields of Little Heath Farm. With some 400 years of history, the storied estate was transformed from a family residence into the Stamford Military Hospital during World War I. Strike up a conversation with some of the National Trust guides and they’ll tell you first-hand tales of spooky goings on in the former medical rooms – one involving a ghostly gramophone. Today the main hall still boasts a wondrous array of oil paintings, while the winter garden is the largest in the UK.

Photo credit: Arnhel de Serra
Photo credit: Arnhel de Serra


Wander Altrincham’s fêted market

Lopsided pyramids of artisan cheese, tumbling mounds of freshly baked speciality breads and slabs of charcuterie greet visitors at Altrincham’s award-winning market. It also boasts a slew of other natty retailers, selling everything from ultra-contemporary flower arrangements to antique silver trinkets. Ringed with cafes and wine bars, the market is, in many ways, the thudding heart of the bijou town centre – and with its union-flag bunting, chalkboard signs and theatrical Grade II-listed trappings, it is one of quaintest British spots this side of the 1800s.

Dine on Hale’s high street

For suppers and cocktails in the small hours, head to Hale’s centre, with its plush restaurants and relaxed, faintly suburban character – a kind of Hampstead with a Cheshire accent. Along with the likes of Victors, with its modern American menu and wisteria-festooned ceiling; the brunch spot Juniper, where, on Sunday mornings, most guests are hidden behind their weekend broadsheets; Gupshup, with its elevated Indian dishes; and Cibo, which is among the neighbourhood’s most perennially popular destinations. Here, refined modern Italian cuisine is served in neatly designed surrounds, with diners overlooking Hale’s late-1800s railway station. As well as a tempting list of pasta dishes, the wine menu features a few fine classics, including a Saissicaia (often referred to as the world’s greatest Italian variety).

Photo credit: John Knight
Photo credit: John Knight

Roam the scenic surrounding country

Part of Altrincham’s persuasive appeal is in its intertwining of urban and rural. Leaving behind the compact centre and walking westwards through Bowdon’s leafy residential lanes, the Cheshire plains quickly unfurl. Skirt the town with a pastoral walk along the River Bollin or – over an hour or two – tread the public routes across open fields to the nearby Rostherne, where a mermaid is reported to reside in the lake. En route you can sidle past Ashley Hall, a country home dating from the late 16th century that has sometimes played a starring role in British political history. During the late autumn and winter months, the area is a popular place for seasonal outdoor pursuits – game shoot shotgun cracks a near-constant soundtrack and pheasants lurking behind every hedgerow.

Stay at Roebuck Inn

Just a 15-minute drive from Altrincham in the nearby village of Mobberley, Roebuck Inn is all the Gallic charm and easy informality of Provence squeezed into a six-bedroom, wine-centric “petit hotel” and bistro. A Grade II-listed building that dates from the early 1700s, expect artfully discordant interiors, with wax rolling down wine-bottle candleholders; elaborate gilt mirrors at tipsy, carefree angles; and a much-treaded patchwork of tiles and exposed planks. It’s all seductively characterful and most bedrooms feature freestanding baths, French antique beds and Egyptian linens. The restaurant serves quality, no-nonsense fare, has a curt Old World wine list and, lined up close to the bar, a neat selection of take-home goods – from local gins to soy-wax candles.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy
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