Dunham Massey ancient trees walk
Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4SJRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Discover one of the finest collections of veteran trees in England, as you explore Dunham Massey park. Rich in wildlife, the park is also home to a herd of over 150 fallow deer.
- Bus stop
Start: Clock Tower, grid ref: SJ735874
From the Clock Tower, walk down the grass path towards the service road, turning left when you reach the service road itself. Dunham Massey is regarded as one of the best sites for the number and variety of its veteran trees. Veteran trees are very important for the habitat they provide for animals, insects and fungi. Dunham's trees are home to many rare insect species, such as the nationally scarce cobweb beetle (Megatoma undata) as well as beetle-eating bats such as the noctule.
Follow the service road round the corner and up the slope. The 16th century watermill will be on your left.
At the variegated beech tree, turn right on to Langham Grove. Walk past Old Man Pool on your left all the way to Langham Obelisk.
At the obelisk, turn left and follow the deer sanctuary log rail barrier. Cross over Farm Walk and follow the deer sanctuary barrier past Island Pool to Middle Avenue.
Turn right at Middle Avenue and walk to the top of the park. When you reach the railings, go through the plantation gates on your left.
Small in stature, big on personality, this gnarled old oak tree is full of life. At around 250 years old this tree is younger than it at first appears. Fungi, insects, bats, birds and small mammals all live in the trees nooks and crannies. Burnt, decayed, twisted, hollow, but still alive and healthy, the trees damaged in a past bracken fire show the tenacity of trees to survive. Look out for them between points 5 and 6 on the walk route.
Follow the path all the way to Charcoal Drive, turning left at the driveway to head back towards the mansion.
This deer barn, thought to date from 1740, is where the winter feed for Dunham's deer herd would have been stored. You can still see remnants of the hay racks today. Four colours of fallow deer roam Dunham Massey: black, common, menil and white. The bucks grow new antlers each year, ready for the autumn rut.
At the end of Charcoal Drive, follow the main drive down to the main entrance of the Hall. On the lawn to either side of the drive are pollarded lime trees, which are cut every three years.
Optional garden route: turn right and enter the formal gardens (ticket required) to view one of the oldest oaks on the estate and the collection of ornamental trees including cork oaks, white stemmed birch and the handkerchief tree.
At the main entrance of the Hall turn left, and continue back to the starting point of the Clock Tower.
A series of paintings by John Harris, dating from the 1750s, hang in Dunham Massey Hall and show the park as it appeared in the 18th century. These bird's eye views give a good indication of the park's design and provide useful guides for our restoration work in the area.
Additional walk: continue under the Clock Tower, turning right to the car park. In the fenced area adjacent to the Stallion Pound is one of the oldest oak trees on the estate, at around 500 years old it predates the formal planting of the parkland. The fence was erected to protect the tree's roots from compaction.
Pass through the white gates and continue to the end of the moat path. Directly in front of you is a fabulous Lime Avenue planted in around 1900.
End: Clock Tower, grid ref: SJ735874
In partnership with
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
- OS Map: Landranger 109; Explorer 276
Easy terrain in general but some areas may become waterlogged following rain. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead, as fallow deer roam the entire park. No dog bins so please take dog litter home.
- How to get here:
By foot: Close to Trans-Pennine Trail and Bridgewater canal
By bike: NationalCycle Network Route 62, 1 mile (1.6km) away
By bus: Altrincham Bus Station/Interchange, Warrington Borough Transport, no. 5 bus, alight by the main entrance gates to Dunham Massey
By train: Altrincham station and Metro 3 miles (4.8km), Hale station 3 miles (4.8km)
By car: M6 motorway exit 19, M56 motorway exit 7, A56 towards Altrincham/ Manchester, B5160 Charcoal Road
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