Quarry Bank is one of our closest National Trust Properties. It is quite a recognisable property in the UK as it was used as the filming location for channel 4’s The Mill, and for all of you parents out there, one of the rows of workers houses is used as the home of Mr Tumble on Cbeebies. As a family we know this location quite well as my sister Lucy used to live in one of the workers cottages (pre children) and I have a lot of lovely memories of visiting her and exploring this area together.
Quarry Bank is a cotton mill built in the 1780’s on the banks of the river Bollin and it is still working today. The owners of the mill, the Greg’s, built a complete industrial site including the mill and workers village (with houses, a shop and a church for the staff and families who worked in the mill) all on a huge area of land in Cheshire and all of which are still there today for you to explore, which means there is lots to do.
We always park outside of the property on Altrincham road. From the main road through Style (B5166) turn into Altrincham road and drive past the Ship Inn and the few cafes and you will find lots of free road parking on the left. This will let you get direct access into the workers village (free to wander around) and from here it is a really nice 15 min walk to the mill. Parking here also gives you the option to eat at the Ship Inn or Earlams Cafe which are both really nice.
There is a lovely large grassy field in front of the mill which is the perfect place for a picnic in the sunshine. You get a great view of the mill from the field. E enjoyed throwing stones off of the bridge into the River Bollin and it is a great place to let little ones run off some steam whilst chasing a football.
Near to the ticket office there are signs to a small play area which has a slide, swing and a few other bits and bobs. There are also a few picnic benches here if you wanted to have your lunch whilst the little ones played. We followed the path past the playground and came to a lovely waterfall with a nice viewing platform and beautiful swathes of Ox-eye daisies as far as the eye can see. I had never seen this part of Quarry Bank and its one of the things I like most about the place. As the site is so large you are always discovering new little corners and areas.
We next headed to the beautiful gardens. The gardens are a series of terraces that climb up a steep hill from the river Bollin. The winding paths and steps are fantastic for little legs to explore. There are lots of areas for sitting and admiring the view back over the mill. The gardens are a riot of colours and smells at the moment and E had the time of his life smelling all the flowers.
There is an event on at the moment that is about the worst children’s jobs in history. There are various interactive installations dotted around the site where children can get involved. E found this one in the garden and spent a happy 20 mins just filling up buckets with rocks!
There are several paths to take up the hill through the garden. I had a pram with me and chose the wrong path and did have to haul it up a LOT of steps, however I think there is an easy access path up, just ask the staff at the entrance to the garden and they can let you know where it is – one to remember for next time.
At the top there is a whole new garden to explore. Since we first visited the mill over 10 years ago they have opened up so many new areas and the walled garden is the newest addition to have opened since we last visited. With its fully restored glass houses, with what look like a thousand glass windows twinkling in the sun it looks just beautiful. E had the best time running through the greenhouses and exploring.
At the back of the larger green houses there are a few rooms which are set up to let children explore and learn about working in the walled garden. There is a fantastic area which allows children to create their own pot out of paper and then plant some cress seeds to take home. As you can see ours is now thriving and E loves watering the cress every day and watching it grow.
There is a little cafe in the top garden which was the perfect place to stop for a drink and to share a slice of chocolate cake. There are toilet facilities in this area as well. In good weather there are deck chairs and bean bags laid out on the lawn in front of the cafe and they also have some giant toys for children to play with. The deckchairs looked so comfy and I did try to convince E it would be a good spot to sit and relax for 5 minutes but he was just having too much fun and wanted to keep exploring.
We ended up back in the workers village which is such a lovely place to explore. There are only a few cars that actually come into the village and so it was perfect and E had a great time running down the cobbled streets and exploring all the little alleyways, lanes, doorways and fields. We even found Mr tumbles house, although I don’t think he was at home.
Quarry Bank Mill is one of our favourite local National Trust properties. You can visit for an hour or so and have a quick walk and a cuppa or there is more than enough to do to allow you to spend the whole day. Although it is located near Manchester Airport it feels like you are in the middle of the countryside, away from it all. And of course, there is the mill itself – I have not been in for a good few years (as we always end up running around in the gardens) but I think a wander around the mill might be on the cards for our next visit.