Cheshire, England: A Home Away from Home in Britain’s Countryside


The Dunham Massey back path entrance.

Taking the Scenic Route to England’s Countryside

Photos and Text By Venia Stilson

If you want to visit the countryside of England, then I recommend Northwest England, particularly, Cheshire, England.

Cheshire, England is about four hours North of London by car or by train. It is, of course,  your preference. Myself, I would recommend the train. There is nothing more enjoyable than to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

On this trip, with the help of a friend, I chose to try the buddy pass. This allows an airline employee to use their discount for a friend or relative. In doing this, it cost me half the price to fly than it would have.

My original plan was to fly from Phoenix to Charlotte, then to Philadelphia, and on to Manchester, England. However, this did not work out as planned. As a buddy pass holder, you are low priority, so if you cannot board the flight, you wait for the next, and if those fail, well, you are pretty much out of luck, and I was getting to that point.

The Dunham Massey back path entrance.
The Dunham Massey back path entrance.

Boarding a train to Cheshire

Then, I was informed there was room on a flight going to London, and if I was willing, I could board a train from London to Cheshire. I did not want to cancel my trip, so I agreed, and flew into London, England. However, my bags did not. By the time I arrived in London, I was up for 48 hours, as I can never sleep on a plane.

So, by the time I boarded the train, and was on route heading north, to my surprise, I managed to cat nap. However, in doing this, to my sadness, I missed the beautiful views of the English countryside. Once I arrived at the train station in Altrincham, Cheshire, I then took a cab to the B&B (bed and breakfast) I reserved.

I chose the Cheshire area in Little Bollington, with the village of Lymm and Altrincham on both sides of me, because it was in the country, and I have always loved the country. Also, this was my first experience in staying in a B&B, and I have to say, I could not have been more pleased

Lovely Ash Farm Country House

The Ash Farm Country House.
The Ash Farm Country House.

The B&B, called Ash Farm Country House, is a two-hundred- year old house, owned by a wonderful couple, David, and Janice. From what I learned, the husband used to be a professional football player. After I checked in and told the owners about what happened with my bags, Janice called Manchester airport to let them know when my bags arrived and that they needed to have someone drive them over, since I did not have a car and would be unable to pick them up myself.

Well, whatever she said, did the job. You see, the airlines told me the bags will be sent to Manchester Airport, but it would be my responsibility to pick them up. Janice told me the airport will deliver my bags when they arrive. Excellent service. My first wonderful experience at the beginning of my stay.

David showed me to my room and to my private bathroom directly across from my room. The door to my room, as well as the bathroom–well, all the rooms in the B&B–were made of old wood with metal latch’s, similar to what you may have seen in the 1700 – 1800’s. For security though, they added a modern lock.

The one window in the room had a beautiful view overlooking the garden in the back of the farm house. In the room was a double bed, a wardrobe, trouser press (which I had no need for), a desk, a large TV, and a tea and coffee maker, with biscuits and water. There was an iron and iron board, a radio, and a hairdryer. It was a beautiful and comfortable room.

A view of the Ash Farm Country House's garden.
A view of the Ash Farm Country House’s garden.

They even offered complimentary Wi-Fi. The bathroom was a spacious bathroom, with a dressing robe and toiletries, and a wonderfully long and deep bathtub. After settling in my room I decided to lay down to take a nap, although I already managed a small nap on the train. The bed was very comfortable, and I had a nice restful nap.

David and Janice are wonderful people and I had the pleasure of receiving a grand tour of their wonderful farm house from David. They have several rooms; one is a four-poster bed bedroom, decorated very elegantly. A great room for a couple wanting a nice retreat, with an en-suite (a large bathroom with a shower), two windows, one overlooking the garden in the back, and the second side window overlooking the gravel parking lot.

Their second room on the second floor has a seven-foot bed, well-decorated to accommodate a gentleman who does not care for the feminine look. It too had an en-suite, but simple with a shower. This room overlooks the front of the farm house to the small main road, but also beyond to the beautiful country green landscape.

The third room on the second floor was, of course, my room. The fourth room is on the ground floor. This is another simple room with an en-suite, and a king size bed to accommodate a gentleman or a lady. The final room is outside the main house. They call it the cottage room. The entry door is a cottage door with a skeleton key where the top opens up to enjoy the beautiful view of the garden, and take in the breathtaking fresh air.

It is a smaller room with an en-suite shower. I stayed in this room on my last night as I didn’t book enough time originally, and the room I had was not available on the last night, so they gave me this room. Although it wasn’t a very large room, it was a very warm and comfortable room.

Ash Farm House has a sitting/library room. If you don’t have a book, there is a nice selection you can choose from. You can even ask for a bottle of wine, so you can sit and drink your wine while reading your book with a wonderful blazing fire; very calming.

Touring Around Altrincham

I did what I could in preparing myself to head into Altrincham since I had no luggage. I needed to go to the local store, to get a few things that would tide me over until my luggage arrived the next day. I took a cab into Altrincham to ASDA Altrincham Superstore–which is like our Wal-Mart– where they had practically everything I needed. However, I did not like their choice of clothes.

After shopping, I was starving. When I was dropped off at ASDA, I noticed a restaurant across the street. As I was heading over I noticed a Tesco next door (which is similar to our Sam’s Club and/or Costco). So before getting a bite to eat, I decided to walk over and see if I can find the clothes I needed. And to my wonderful surprise, I did.

After buying the items I needed, it was now time to head over to the restaurant for a long overdue meal. As I was walking to the restaurant entry, I noticed a movie theater directly next door. When I walked into the restaurant, it looked like a sports bar; the best way to compare it is to our Apple Bees. The restaurant’s name is Frankie and Benny’s, and apparently, it is an American Franchise.

Just like Apple Bees, they had memorabilia on all the walls. They had a wonderful variety of food; they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The atmosphere was pleasant, and the food was great. Once I was done with dinner, I took a cab back to the B&B for a long restful night.

On my second day, I decided to visit and walk around Altrincham. It’s a wonderful place, easy to walk to everything you want to see. They have a local tram, which was the one I arrived on my first day. It can take you wherever you would like to go, saving money on a taxi. Oh, I cannot forget there is a wonderful bus service, another great saving on public transportation. I highly recommend it. It was only one pound for a one-way trip, and you get to meet some very wonderful people.

There are many shops and restaurants. There is one down side though; most restaurants are not open until dinner time. But there are small coffee shops and bakeries you can go to, not to mention, Frankie and Benny’s, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Tatton Park.
Tatton Park.

Renting a Car

I met so many wonderful people–there wasn’t a day where I was not lucky to meet someone new–everyone there was so kind and helpful. On my third day, with the distance I needed to travel, I decided to rent a car. I have to recommend Enterprise, the price was good, and easy, with no hassles.

However, I do recommend getting the local insurance if you do rent a car. If not, it could be very pricey if you were to have any damage to the car. It was interesting driving in England again, since the last time I drove there was in the nineties when I lived in England for four years. It did take a bit of getting used to again, but in no time at all I managed, and with a standard.

I guess you can say it was like riding a bicycle because you never really forget. On my fourth day, I went to see Tatton Park, a large estate going back to I believe the 1100’s. This estate was also used in the 1990’s BBC movie Pride and Prejudice, with Colin Firth. I was in awe with this place.

It was designed with the greatest of elegance and architecture. It is also known for the woman who wrote Harry Potter. There is a room dedicated to the original drawing of Harry Potter of which you are not allowed to take any pictures. You are closely watched to ensure no pictures are taken.

The Harry Potter exhibit at Tatton Park.
The Harry Potter exhibit at Tatton Park.

It was a massive estate, and unfortunately, I did not get to see everything that was included with the purchase of my ticket. However, if you plan to return the following year, you can return to see the parts you missed. Basically, you are allowed a year from the date of the purchase of the ticket to complete your tour.

Feasting at the Ash Farm Country House

After waking the next morning and dressing, I headed down for breakfast. Wow! The B&B made a large English Breakfast, too much for me though. After a few mornings, and not being able to finish, I felt horrible and chose to have a small breakfast from their amazing breakfast bar there after. It had dry cereal and a mixture of fruit.

After getting to know David and Janice, David wanted me to try an old recipe that, if I remember correctly, his mother made. It was cooked bacon with melted cheese. Wow! It was so amazing, but you had to eat it quickly before the cheese went cold. David said he might add it to the menu. I cannot say if he did this or not since this happened on my last day there.

Ash Farm Country House has a pub you can find next door called The Swan with Two Nicks. So, if you didn’t feel like going into the village for lunch or dinner, then you can walk a few feet next door. On my third night, I decided to give the place a try. It was an interesting setup, designed for no pressure (I believe).

When you walk in, you go to the bar to place your order of food and drink. Once you’ve placed your order, you then go back to the entry on the side wall where you can grab your silverware, then pick the table you wish to sit at. This is a dog-friendly establishment and it’s very simple and relaxing. The food was great! This is definitely a place to visit.

Experiencing the Beautiful Village of Lymm

One day on my visit, I went to the village of Lymm. It was a very small village, but an amazing place definitely worth visiting.

I am sorry to say I did not spend a great deal of time there. However, if you were to visit during Christmas, the village reminds you of the one in the Christmas Carol, and some dress the part. Thursday, I decided to visit Dunham Massey Castle, which is within walking distance from Ash Farm Country House.

A front view of the Dunham Massey Castle.
A front view of the Dunham Massey Castle.

It’s a massive estate/castle. On the walking path, it can take you down to the main road and entrance, or you can take the path taking you through the back entrance. I toured the castle, an amazing place to visit. If you are ‘a sensitive’, you just might feel something there. I actually caught an orb in a couple of my pictures.

The gardens are beautiful with a wonderful, serene feeling. Right next to the castle is a lake where, if you want, you could sit on the grass and have a lovely picnic. Further down, there is a deer park with several lakes and ponds. Unfortunately, I did not make it there as it started to sprinkle. I wanted to hurry back to the B&B before it down poured.

This is the deer sanctuary and they are allowed to roam freely throughout the estate, and you could see them gracing the estate in different places on the property. They are so used to people, you might get a chance to pet one.

I also learned later there is a lake called Smithy Pole, which is known to be a place where lovers go to be together, or if you are looking for love, it’s a place to visit. And if the energy is good, you will find love. I am not too sure on this, but it’s a fascinating place and I look forward to visiting on my return visit.

One Last Trip to the Witches Cave

The Wizard Walk.
The Wizard Walk.

The owners of Ash Farm Country Farm House: David, and Janice, suggested that I go see the witches cave on my last day in England. Also known as The Wizard Walk, the witches cave is found in Alderley Edge, which is known for its history of witches and wizards mystical goings-on.

A wizard on the Wizard Walk, traced by Venia Stilson.
A wizard on the Wizard Walk, traced by Venia Stilson.

They said it’s very magical, and if I went, I would feel the magic and the energy of the place. So, I decided to take the time to stop and visit. But on Fridays, the tourist office is closed so I wasn’t able to take advantage of the full spectacle of the place. But I did walk the ‘Wizard Walk’ trail, leading around past one of the caverns. It was a beautiful place. I, of course, was not aware of the proper footwear recommended to walk such a trail. So, it was a little easy going, especially walking downhill.

I recommend, if you go, please wear proper walking shoes. I cannot deny, there was something there; an energy of sorts. To know, you have to experience it for yourself. I did take a few pictures, and you will be surprised to what I caught. Of course, I didn’t discover this amazing surprise until I got home and blew the pictures up on my computer.

If you look, you can see it, but if not, I did trace the item in question. I had a wonderful visit at Ash Country Farm and the surrounding country and nearby villages. This is a place to see. Little Bollington, Lymm, Altrincham and Alderley Edge. I have to say the best time to visit is before the tour season that lasts from April to May.

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Shane Fay is a creative writer and soccer enthusiast from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts intent on traveling across Europe to enhance his knowledge of the beautiful game, and explore the vast and various landscapes that the continent has to offer.



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