Of all the Great British Days Out, the semi-regular National Trust site visit has to be up there with the best. Educational? Check. Magnificent historic monuments and expansive parklands? Check. Those scones they do at the cafe? Check. These Manchester-area tips from Culture Trip’s local insiders are a great place to start.
Dunham Massey, on the Manchester/Cheshire border, offers visitors a traditional Georgian manor house, gardens and deer park. Unusually, the gardens are as exciting in the depths of January as they are in July – Dunham Massey boasts one of the UK’s finest winter gardens, so you’ll find scents and colours to enjoy all year round. The surrounding parkland offers a number of circular, accessible trails and is excellent for spending time outdoors with the family. As well as the estate’s resident herd of fallow deer, you might spot woodpeckers and a host of other bird life. Keep your eyes peeled. Recommended by local insider Natalie Hetherington
Just south of Disley in Cheshire lies Lyme Park, a magnificent stately house surrounded by more than 1,400 acres (570ha) of moorland, which once formed the manor’s sporting estate. Take a walk around it for glorious views over the Peak District National Park and chances to spot the red deer. For history buffs, the lavish interiors transport you back to the opulence of the Regency era – try out the billiards table in the Long Gallery or don your finest Regency regalia in the Dressing Room. You might even recognise the reflecting lake in the gardens as the place where a certain Miss Bennet met Mr Darcy in that scene of that BBC adaptation. Recommended by local insider Natalie Hetherington
The cotton industry is a central part of the northwest’s heritage. And where better to learn about the area’s urban, industrial and sometimes brutal, industrial past than Quarry Bank working mill? Everything in the mill is functional. You’ll feel the floor shake with the activities of mechanised looms and spinning wheels as you learn about the lifestyles of those that worked there – then take a stroll to Styal village to tour the workers’ cottages. A visit to the house and gardens of mill founder Samuel Greg, and the relative opulence his family, lived in provides a thought-provoking contrast. Recommended by local insider Alexandra Jones
Alderley Edge, near the famously well-heeled village, is a red sandstone escarpment. A climb to the top offers gorgeous vistas out across the Cheshire plain and the Peak District National Park, plus a Bronze-Age burial mound and fire beacon site. From the viewing platform, you can also catch Manchester city centre in the distance. There are various themed trails across the area, covering open pastures and both pine and beech woodland – perfect for a quick getaway when you need fresh air and fields without driving miles out of the city centre. Recommended by local insider Alexandra Jones