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What to see and do with children at the National Trust’s Dunham Massey near Manchester

What is it?

A stately home with gardens, a large deer park, good walks and cafes, run by the National Trust.

Where is it?

Dunham Massey is near Altrincham in Cheshire, just a few miles from the main A556 dual carriageway.

What did we think?

This is one of the best places to take children, the grounds are safe and large, there are good facilities, regular special family trails, shows and events.

There is enough to keep you interested at Dunham Massey for at least half a day.

Our highlights

The park

The large deer park has long paved stretches for scooters and bikes (child bikes only allowed), plus lots of areas to build dens, play hide and seek, explore fallen trees and small ponds.

There are lots of deer in the park and they are fairly tame so you can get quite close – sometimes they even hang around by the house and cafe area. It is a very safe, flat and expansive park to play in.

deer at Dunham Massey

The deer are regular visitors to busy areas

The gardens

You have to pay extra to enter the gardens (free to National Trust members). There are paths throughout with flowers all year round. It claims to be one of Britain’s biggest winter gardens.

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There are regular children’s trails to pick up at the entrance and follow, especially at Christmas and Easter.

The rose garden and bridge over the lake are fun parts for children. It is a lovely area to explore and enjoy.

rhododendrons in bloom at Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey’s gardens are colourful and host regular family trails

The house

Pretty much your traditional National Trust old house, of interest to lots of adults but a bit dark and gloomy for children, without a great deal to keep them amused.

However, it does have regular exhibitions and events – it was turned into a World War One hospital recently which was an interesting experience for our little ones. It costs extra to enter the house (free to National Trust members).

an aerial view of Dunham Massey

The house at Dunham Massey from above

Facilities

A newish visitor centre has a shop, cafe and toilets at the entrance. Remember to get your garden or house tickets from there before you go any further – even NT members need a ticket.

The cafe at the visitor centre has a nice outside seating area but it gets busy.

We prefer the restaurant in the park, which is large with family seating area, but this also gets busy and peak times. There is an ice cream shop in this area too and toilets and it is nearer the gardens and house entrance.

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Conclusion

Dunham Massey is a great place to take scooters or bikes and explore the parkland, the gardens are also worth a visit although you can probably give the house a miss.

Our Top Tips

*You need tickets for the house and garden even if you are National Trust members. Get them at the main entrance before you go any further – you can’t buy them anywhere else.

*It gets very busy at weekends in good weather – and you often have to queue for the car park so try and go very early or later in the day.

Dunham Massey information

Food: There are two nice places to eat, a cafe in the visitor centre at the entrance and the other,our favourite of the two, a restaurant off the courtyard, with hot food and delicious cakes. It is big but very popular and can get very busy. There is also an ice cream parlour in this part. Picnics are also welcome in the park but not the gardens.

Opening hours: Open every day in school holidays from 10am to 5pm. During term time, it is open Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays.

Cost: Car parking £7, includes entry to the park (free for NT members). Family entry to house and gardens £36.25, garden only £25. National Trust members free.

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Best for: ages three to eight.

Time needed: Can easily fill half a day or just pop to the park for an hour or so.

Access and restrictions: There is free disabled parking. The ramp running from the car park to the Visitor Centre is accessible by wheelchair and mobility scooter, but is quite steep. Wheelchairs and personal mobility vehicles (PMVs) are available to borrow from reception. Book in advance to ensure availability on 0161 941 1025.

Address: Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ

(Pictures in this article are courtesy of National Trust Images).

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