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Stage 18 Irlam to Altrincham

Est time: 5 hours 35 minutes

Distance: 10.8 miles / 17.4 km

Ascent: 122 metres

Grade: Moderate

Public transport: Train | Tram | Bus

Facilities: Toilet | Pub | Cafe

Go Jauntly App & PDF link

Plotaroute Map

Places to visit

Stage 18, the final ‘countryside’ section of the GM Ringway, links Irlam and Altrincham via the rural Bollin Valley and the glorious parkland of the Dunham Massey estate.

Highlights include:

  • Airy views from the toll bridge above Manchester Ship Canal, so important for the development of the metropolis
  • The Grade I-listed St Werburgh’s Old Church in Warburton, possibly the finest small church along the whole route of the GM Ringway
  • An easy and well-signposted section of the Bollin Valley Way past a series of country pubs
  • An exploration of Dunham Massey, which with its 17th-century hall and deer park is one of the finest National Trust properties in the UK
  • A ‘secret’ route into Altrincham town centre via quiet pathways.

Note that parts of the trail may be damp, muddy and slippery at any time of year and especially after periods of wet weather. Please bear this in mind when planning your trip.

Be sure to keep your dog on its lead in sensitive areas, which include upland areas such as moorland, wetlands and mosslands, farmland, and parkland, such as the National Trust estate. Keeping dogs on leads helps protect both livestock and wildlife, especially ground-nesting birds.

This walk is available on the user-friendly Go Jauntly walking app. Here, photographs and written directions will enable you to follow the route on your phone. You can also download a printable PDF of the directions from the same link.

Alternatively, you can follow the route (without written directions) on the mobile-friendly Plotaroute site. To use Plotaroute on your phone’s browser, simply click the map. Then, when you’re ready to start walking, click the tracker icon (bottom right) to show your position as you follow the route.

We recommend carrying an additional power source and/or map when following online routes on your phone. For any challenging routes, we would recommend that you also have access to and know how to read an Ordnance Survey map.

There are no significant gradients along the entire route. The paths used are clear but use a variety of surfaces, from pavements and well-made gravel and tarmac paths (in the National Trust estate) to earthen field paths elsewhere. Mud and puddles are likely on those sections. The pavements on the Warburton Toll Bridge are rather narrow and can sometimes be encroached upon by vegetation. Watch out for traffic on this section and cross with care if you need to use the pavement on the opposite side.

The paths and terrain encountered on this walk are shown and described on the Go Jauntly version of the walk, enabling you to make your own assessment of whether the route is accessible for you.

However, the varied terrain involved in this route means that the overall route is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. Please visit our Shorter walks page for a selection of step-free walks on the GM Ringway trail. In addition, many of the paths within the Dunham Massey estate are hard-surfaced and accessible to all users. For details, see the National Trust website.

There are toilets, including accessible facilities, at the start of the walk in the Station Café at Irlam (available to non-customers) and at the 8-mile/13-km point in Dunham Massey. At the end of the walk there are payable public toilets (including accessible facilities) in Altrincham Interchange and others in Altrincham Market Hall.

An unusual number of refreshment opportunities can be found en route. As well as the Station Café at the start, and the many cafes, bars and eateries in Altrincham town centre, you’ll find a café and a large restaurant at Dunham Massey. Finally, there are three country pubs on or near the middle part of the stage between Warburton and Dunham.

For location details see the Plotaroute map.

As the GM Ringway is designed around the tram, train and bus network, we recommend the use of public transport to access the start and end points. However, we also provide tips for drivers below.

Start and end points

To work out how to get to and from the walk start end points, simply click the links below to see the location in Google Maps. Then click ‘Directions’ and enter your starting location. For public transport options, click the train icon.

Start point: Irlam station M44 5AB

End point: Altrincham Interchange WA14 1BL

Alternatively, input the locations shown on this page into the TfGM journey planner.

Public transport

This trail stage connects Irlam station, served by direct trains from Manchester and Warrington, with Altrincham Interchange, served by Metrolink trams from Manchester and elsewhere, trains from Manchester and Stockport, and buses from various locations. Train times can be checked by visiting the National Rail website, while details of bus and tram services can be found on the TfGM journey planner.

Recommended tickets

If you are travelling only by train, you can purchase single tickets to Irlam and from Altrincham. You can check the price of these on the National Rail website. Tickets can be purchased online or from the ticket office or machine at the station.

Depending on your starting location, a Greater Manchester Rail Ranger may be cheaper. This can be used on any train (and trams within the city centre) all day on weekends and bank holidays at off-peak times on weekdays. For details, see this page.

If you want to return from Altrincham by tram, you will need a Metrolink ticket to cover the zones you travel through. You can check the price of these on the Bee Network website and then purchase your ticket from the machine at the stop or tap in and out with your bank card.

However, as you may be travelling by a mix of trains and trams (and possibly buses), then a combined day ticket might be cheaper. Check the TfGM Tickets and passes page to find the best option (selecting ‘1 day and return’ as your answer to ‘How often would you be travelling?’).


As the start and end points are on different lines (train in the case of Irlam, and train or tram in the case of Altrincham), drivers are advised to use public transport for both their outward and return journey. See ‘Public transport’ above.

Otherwise, the best option for an early start is to park at the start point using the Irlam Rail Park and Ride (postcode M44 5ZR), which has 66 spaces with 4 disabled spaces. You can then complete the walk and return to your car by public transport, using either Google Maps or the TfGM journey planner to work out the best route (average journey time 1 hour or so).

Alternatively, there is a car park with 64 spaces at Urmston station (postcode M41 5AW). From here, you can then take a short train ride (of only 4-7 minutes) to the walk start at Irlam station. At the end of the walk, direct buses return from Altrincham Interchange to Urmston Library, just near the station (journey time 35-40 minutes) Train times can be checked by visiting the National Rail website, while details of bus and tram services can be found on the TfGM journey planner.

Cut-off points

If, for example, you only want to walk a section of the stage, there are two main locations where public transport can be used to leave or to access the route.

The first is Warburton village at the 4.5-mile/7.2-km point, served by buses on the Altrincham-Warrington route. The second is the village of Dunham Woodhouses, at the 6.5 mile/11-km point, served by buses to and from Altrincham on Mondays to Saturdays only.

For location details, see the Plotaroute map.

Three alternative routes are shown on the Plotaroute map.

The first, in the village of Warburton, simply entails walking down steps (not a public right of way, but commonly used) and along Church Green to avoid a there-and-back route to the ‘must-see’ sight of Warburton Old Church:

The second is an optional alternative route from Dunham Massey to Altrincham visiting Denzell Gardens and the Devisdale, which are both attractive green spaces:

Finally, just at the end of the walk, it is worthwhile heading into Goose Green, a pretty square surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants. After a break here, you can head directly to Altrincham Interchange on an unofficial but frequently used route:

To give any feedback or notify us of any issues with this route, please complete this form.

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