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Christmas At Dunham Massey

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We love a Christmas light trail and have been lucky to visit a variety of light trails across the country. Our love for lights all began with the original light trail, Blackpool Illuminations which I’ve visited since I was very little. Now Christmas light trails have become more and more popular and it’s now a tradition of ours to visit a light trail or two every year. We’ve just experienced our first Christmas trail of 2023 and it’s one of our favourites. Christmas at Dunham Massey always gets us in the Christmassy mood and this years trail did not disappoint. 

christmas at Dunham Massey sign

Reindeer lights

What To Expect at Dunham Massey, Altrincham WA14 4SJ

'A new after-dark illuminated trail through festive gardens. Firmly positioned as a must-see trail within the UK’s Christmas calendar, the gardens at the National Trust’s Dunham Massey shimmer with over a million twinkling lights as seasonal sounds fill the air with festive fun.'

Dunham Massey lights

'Look forward to some time together with friends and family as you discover sparkling tunnels of light and dancing lakeside reflections, then walk under giant baubles and beneath glistening trees drenched in jewel-like colour. For a moment of reflection pause at mesmerising flickering flames in the fire garden, gaze at the larger-than-life illuminations and, to make a moment to remember, don’t forget to glimpse Father Christmas along the way.'

light trail at Dunham Massey


Selected dates from Friday 17th November to 31st December 2023 - 4:30 to 8:15pm (time slots may vary by date)

light trail at Dunham Massey

How Much?

Tickets are £19 for adults and £12.50 for children for off peak tickets. Standard tickets are £22.50 and Children are £14.50. Peak tickets are £24.50 and children £17. Family tickets are available and carers go free. 

light trail at Dunham Massey

How Long Does The Trail Last?

The trail is approximately one mile long. I think how long you visit depends on each individual family or group. We like to take our time, stop and look at all the lights and then stop half way round for a drink and maybe toast a marshmallow. 

hot chocolate at Dunham Massey

Can I Purchase Food and Drink?

Yes, food and drink and fairground rides are available onsite. Food and drink can be found at the beginning and end of the trail, with additional refreshments at around the midway point. Separate charges apply for all food, drink and rides.

Christmas light trail at Dunham Massey

What Should I Wear?

The event takes place entirely outdoors and appropriate clothing and footwear is essential.

Christmas light trail at Dunham Massey

Is There Parking?

Car parking is available onsite but must be pre-booked at the time of ticket purchase. Parking is free for National Trust members with a valid membership card when pre-booked. Parking is available at an additional charge for non-National Trust members.

Goodnight sign

Our Thoughts

This was our third year visiting the trail and for us each year it just gets better and better. This year was the first time we visited just John and I as we usually visit with the boys but they couldn’t make it this year. It was definitely a different experience just the two of us and although we enjoyed the lights, the ambience and being able to go at a much slower pace we did miss the boys more than we thought we would. Visiting a Christmas light trail is perfect for a family night out. 


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Tatton Park Farm

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Another planned visit for us this month to Tatton Park but it was the first time that we’ve been able to visit the farm. The farm reopened on the 17th of May and is another reason why we love Tatton Park. The farm which is setback away from the main courtyard and gardens has its own pathway leading to the farm entrance. You can reach the farm by walking, taking the land train or by car if you wish to park in the disabled bays. The land train is chargeable each way and stops at the farm and children's playground, every 20 minutes. 

Boy looking at a goat

Booking is preferred when visiting as it allows the farm to control the amount of visitors per day however we did see a family allowed entry as numbers were low at the time of our visit.  Entrance to the farm is via the shop and once inside you’ll be greeted by donkeys and an introduction video showing what to expect on your visit. 

donkeys on the farm

Once on the farm you can explore the area including a visit to the horses, goats and chickens. The horses will be the first to greet you on your visit to the farm including 21-year-old Blossom.

As always the goats provide lots of entertainment. They love to come up close for a stroke and it is fun watching them play on their climbing frame. You will spot some cheeky ones poking their heads through the fences and jumping up too. You will also find some cows and pigs on the farm too.

Tatton Park Woodland Playground

Tatton Park Woodland Playground

Tatton Park Woodland Playground

Once you’ve made your way past the animals you can head towards the playground area. It's a woodland playground that has lots of different climbing obstacles for the children to complete. It's set out like a trail from start to finish and has balance beams and rope climbing areas to complete.

Cost onto the farm for all visitors including National Trust members is a  £8 for adults and £6 per child. Concessions and family tickets are also available at a discounted rate.

There are lots of picnic benches around for you to enjoy a picnic and there are snacks available in the gift shop. There are two sets of toilets one by the main entrance and one just before you head to the children’s playground.

boy stroking a goat
boy at tatton park farm

Most of the ground is cobbled stones and I did see a few people struggling to push a pram around however when we left I noticed some people had left their prams near the shop. 

Estimated time on the farm does depend on how long you spend in each area but I would think no more than an hour and a half.

We recently visited Tatton Park to complete the Percy the Park Keeper Trail in the gardens which finishes on June 13th. We will be heading back to the farm soon when the new Percy the Park Keeper Treasure Trail lands on 20th of June 2021.
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Dunham Massey, Altrincham Greater Manchester

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We have visited Dunham Massey twice over the past few months and it has quickly become one of our favourite National Trust properties.

boys looking at house across a lake

What To Expect At Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Greater Manchester WA14 4SJ.

Dunham Massey boasts a garden for all seasons, ancient deer park and a house that is filled with treasures and stories.

On arrival at Dunham Massey your tickets will be checked as you drive in to the car park area. Pre Booking tickets is advised and guarantees entry. Once your tickets are checked you are shown to the car park area and ready to start your day out.

The reception area is just as you enter the estate and has a cafe, toilets, gift shop and an ice cream kiosk. It is probably the largest reception area we have seen in the National Trust places we have been to, and its really modern and fresh. 

boy on grass

When you are ready to enter the main estate you can head up the steps or the accessible route which leads you to the courtyard. There is a large lake which you walk past here which has fountain sprays which fire up from time to time and are really nice to look at.  In the courtyard you have access to toilets, ice cream parlour, the gardens and the deer park.  The courtyard also has some pop up stands with freshly cooked pizza, coffee, and cakes to choose from. 

The house, mill and stables are closed at the moment but there is still plenty to explore.  The house itself looks really impressive, and well preserved so we are looking forward to being able to have a look around when it opens.  

boys sat on a bench

From the courtyard you can choose to head out onto the deer trail, or into the gardens. Both are different experiences and I would recommend you visit both when you go. 

The Gardens are a lovely walk through brightly coloured plants and flowers and large open spaces too. There are plenty of benches dotted around for a break or just to take in the views.  The open spaces are really flat which makes it a great place for a picnic, or to play some games. We played frisbee and the area was perfect for that.  As with most National Trust areas a lot of the trees and flowers are labelled so if you want to have a look and see what everything is you will be able to. 

deer park at Dunham Massey

The Deer park is a much larger and open spaced part of the property. You can choose to wander across some of the more open wooded areas, or you can walk the deer park paths, which in places you can't go off as you have the Deer Sanctuary areas which are left alone for the Deer.  There is so much space to explore and the wide areas reminded us of Tatton Park.  If you follow the defined path you will be able to walk all the way to the end of the estate and come back along another path where we did see some deer from a distance.  There is lots to explore and plenty to climb over, run through and generally enjoy the outdoors. 

boy holding an Ice cream

All paths will lead you back to the Courtyard area, which is a good idea as you can get refreshed and have an Ice Cream before you head back to the reception area and have a look in the shop if you like. 

Anything Else?
The car park at Dunham Massey is free and has lots of parking spaces. It's open daily from 9am-5:15pm (weekends) and 9:30am - 5:15pm. (weekdays)

Please check the individual opening times for the gardens, cafe, shop before you visit.

Well behaved dogs are welcome in the parkland (9.30am – 5pm) and gardens (12 noon – 5pm), but must be kept on a short lead at all times to protect the herd of deer.

Pre Booking tickets is essential. 
Prices are 
£8 per adult
£4 per child
£20 per family

There is plenty to see and do at Dunham Massey to keep you busy and makes a lovely day out. 

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Quarry Bank Mill, Wilmslow Cheshire

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At the weekend we visited a new National Trust property, Quarry Bank Mill in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Although some of the property was closed it was still definitely worth a visit. 

Quarry Bank Mill

What To Expect At Quarry Bank Mill, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 4LA.

Quarry Bank Mill is one of Britains greatest industrial heritage sites, home to a complete industrial community. Although the mill and apprentice house remains closed at the moment there is a huge estate to explore.

On arriving at Quarry Bank Mill you will be checked in by a member of staff. Pre booking tickets is essential and guarantees entry. 

boy running on grass

There are a couple of paths to choose from once inside the estate with most heading towards the upper gardens. 

The path that leads to the upper gardens is only a short distance away. The upper gardens are filled with beautiful spring flowers and landscape gardens. There are toilet facilities in the upper garden as well as a small shop and newly opened Garden Cafe.

Boy overlooking gardens

3 people walking ahead

There is a downward winding path from the upper gardens which takes you in to the lower grounds and mill. 

view of landscape

view of landscape

view of landscape

view of landscape
The path can be steep in places however there are oils to hold on to in certain parts. The path features lots of spring flowers and benches to enjoy the view of the estate below. 

boy on grass
Once at the bottom you can access the lower grounds, a range of walking routes, the mill (when open), weaving shed restaurant, mill shop and stables ice cream parlour. 

Southern walk at Quarry Bank Mill

There are four walks to enjoy in and around Quarry Bank Mill. 

The Southern Woods Walk
Distance 2.5km
Duration 50 minutes

Walking routes at Quarry Bank Mill

The Kingfisher Walk 
Distance 2km
Duration 50 Minutes

Giant's Castle Walk 
Distance 6.2km
Duration 2hrs30

dad and son looking in the river

boy walking down a hill

Boy climbing up a hill

boy sitting on a riverbank
We took the Southern Woods walking path and did the route in reverse. There are plenty of things to see along the way including rivers, wildlife and stunning views. There are benches along the way for those who need to rest or take in the views. If walking with the kids there are plenty of opportunities for them to explore and climb.

All routes are circular so bring you back to the estate. 

Anything Else?

The car park at Quarry Bank Mill is free and has lots of parking spaces. It's open daily from 8am - 8pm. The estate opens at 8:30am and there are individual opening times for the range of facilities available 

Gardens 10:30-5pm
Garden Shop 12-4pm
Mill Shop 10:30-5pm
Stables Ice Cream Parlour 10:30-5pm (weekends only)
Weaving Shed Restaurant 10:30-4pm (weekends only)
The Garden Cafe 10:30-5pm 

Dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome at Quarry Bank Mill. 

Pre Booking tickets is essential. 
Prices are 
£8 per adult
£4 per child
£20 per family

There is plenty of grounds and space around the gardens and mill to ensure social distancing. 

quarry bank mill

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The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail | Tatton Park

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After visiting Tatton Park last Christmas time to join in with their Holly's Festive Feast trail we have been on the lookout for something similar. We found the new trail, Percy The Park Keeper - The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail, which started on 2nd April. 

The secret path sign

What To Expect At Percy The Park Keeper - The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail. Tatton Park, WA16 6QN (Sat Nav WA16 6SG)

Percy The Park Keeper and all his animal friends have headed to Tatton Park this Spring for an adventure. 

The idea behind the trail is Percy is working in Tatton Gardens. You must follow the trail along secret paths and sloping hills to help Percy find all the items that have gone missing which he needs to have a big Spring clean-up

boy looking at a trail map

The trail begins in the garden entrance. You can pick up your trail map and pencil upon arrival and head out in the gardens to start your journey along the secret path. 

Dad and son walking along the grass

boy pointing in a direction of a path

Once you are on your way you can follow the squirrel signposts which will tell you which direction to go in next. 

boy looking at a signpost

boy and dad completing a trail map

There are 7 clues in total hidden around the gardens and you can solve each one and write them down on your trail sheet. Each answer is a missing item that Percy needs to finish his Spring clean up. 

tatton gardens

tatton gardens

tatton gardens

The gardens are so big and you can of course head off and explore the gardens along the way or after you gave finished the trails. There is lots to explore and you can use your map to help you get back on track. 

If you complete all the clues in order when you complete clue number 6 you may spot someone in the distance. It's Percy! Percy is at his potting shed ready to say hello to all his visitors. 

Meeting Percy the park keeper
Meeting Percy the park keeper

When we arrived at the potting shed, Percy introduced himself and had a lovely chat with little J about what football team he supports. He then gave us a a little pot which contained a french bean. He told us all about the bean and the steps we need to follow to help it grow. As it was Easter weekend Little J was also given a Lindt chocolate bunny which was a lovely surprise. We took a quick photo with Percy and then we were on our way to find the last clue. 

Meeting Percy the park keeper

Once you complete the trail there is another photo opportunity with Percy and his animal friends.

On your way out you can collect your Percy The Park Keeper trail sticker to keep. 

Anything Else?
Percy The Park Keeper - The Secret Path In The Gardens Trail is available every day until 13th June 2021.

10am - 6pm (last entry 5pm) 

Garden entry: £8 adult, £6 child, National Trust members go free (but must still book a timed ticket to visit). 

£1 per child for Percy the Park Keeper’s garden trail sheets (including NT members).

There are no toilets inside the garden area so make sure you head to the toilets before you enter which are just outside the gardens entrance. 

There are plenty of grass areas suitable for a picnic both in and outside the gardens plus there are picnic benches and tables scattered around the estate too. 

The Stable Restaurant is open daily 10am-5pm and offers a limited takeaway menu. 

Parkland is open daily 10am – 7pm (last entry 6pm). The Farm and Mansion are currently closed. 

All vehicles will be charged £8 parking fee, this is half price for blue badge holders, cyclists and pedestrians are free to enter.

Tatton gardens

The gardens have plenty of space to ensure social distancing and the trail is a lovely family day out to enjoy with the little ones.


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