Cheshire cats catch the cream!
Wonderful Warrington the gateway to a Cheshire retreat
Warrington isn’t a place name immediately synonymous with scenic beauty and adventures, but more fool those who don’t appreciate its fantastic value as a purveyor of great places to visit and also the gateway to two fabulous bus journeys, provided by Warrington’s Own Buses and their Cat brand. These routes, which are part of our Great Scenic Journeys collection, will leave you purring and clever customers are those who catch them for what really is the crème de la crème of Cheshire across scenic, serene heartland and with fascinating places to visit.
The customer service on-board is up there with the finest too, unsurprising given that Ben Wakerley (below) is Warrington’s Own Buses Managing Director and one of the most renowned customer-centric transport, award-winning leaders of the modern day generation!
A fun-filled sojourn
There’s a great half or full day out to be enjoyed on each of the two routes that start and finish in Warrington. The Cat 5 or X5 from Warrington to Altrincham and Cat 9/9A also from Warrington but to Northwich are routes with so much going for them in terms of a combo of classic Cheshire tranquil scenery at its best, top and tailed by fab destinations and some lovely villages to stop off at en route. The cost of single ticket on each service is also only £2, which makes this the ultimate bargain adventure.
Buses can be picked up from Warrington Interchange in the centre of the town, but also at Warrington Bank Quay station which has inter-city rail services from Wales, Scotland, The Midlands and non-stop to London in 1 hour 47 minutes, as well as frequent trains from Manchester, Liverpool and across the north.
Warrington the catalyst for a great adventure
Before we get on-board with these two great routes, a glimpse of Warrington is well worthwhile. It’s a fascinating town with a blend of historical significance and interest, with modern attractions. Walton Hall and Gardens is close by and is a beautiful estate with a zoo and formal gardens. There’s also the enthralling Warrington Museum and Art Gallery which is a step back in time, so too a delve into the town’s illustrious industrial past at the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre. Of course, Warrington is also famous for its Rugby League team, Warrington Wolves and although the season is now over until next Spring, there’s a great fireworks display taking place on Saturday 4th November at its Halliwell Jones Stadium, where there’s live music, a D.J, face painters and mascot ‘Wolfie’.
For retail therapy, there’s the Golden Square Shopping Centre which has boutique and designer stores aplenty, right next to the Bus Interchange. These big branded shops contrast with the quirks, eccentricities and individual delights of the Warrington Market with its 50 independent traders and everything from fresh fish to fairtrade products, comics to curtains and much more. Interestingly, the Golden Square shopping centre sits on the site of the former Warrington Market, which was established way back in 1246.
The town really is full of fascinating sights, including monuments and sculptures set beside restored buildings showcasing industrial heritage.
Whisked away from Warrington for scenic solitude
Then, it’s to the bus station and we’ll paws for thought first with a look at the Cat 9/9A which crosses the picturesque Warrington Bridge and leaves the town centre behind, including trendy shops and pleasant cafes, such as ‘The Bus Stop’. Very soon, classic Cheshire countryside is traversed, with peace and quiet, perfectly manicured gardens, hanging baskets and flowers galore on well maintained cottages in delightful villages such as Cobbs London Bridge, Great Budworth and Comberach. Legend has it that St. Oswald’s Church in Comberach has an ancient yew tree located in the churchyard which is believed to be over 5,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living organisms in the UK.
Expansive fields and heathland, winding tree-lined roads with pretty hedges, quaint churches and splendid hamlets characterise this journey as the 9/9A retreats further into Cheshire countryside, close to luxurious abodes and classic footballer’s wives territory! The entrance to Marbury Park is passed, an adventure of its own with its lime avenues and famous arboretum, but it’s also a place for rural peace, solitude and the chance just to soak up the atmosphere and maybe have a restful cat-nap or two.
Lifting new heights in Northwich
“Right up there with the very best of interesting and scenic routes across all 180 in the Great Scenic Journeys collection” is how one of our Customer Experience ‘Travel Test’ reviewers described his recent assessment of the Cat 9/9A service and very soon Northwich beckons, beside the River Weaver, past marinas and the picturesque Anderton Boat Lift Visitor Centre. The incredible boat lift connects the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal. Built in 1875, it revolutionized transportation for goods and materials during the Industrial Revolution, allowing for more efficient and cost-effective movement of cargo.
The bus then continues over Winnington Swing Bridge and into the delightful Northwich, with its timber beamed houses.
Explore the historical Lion Salt Works, a fascinating museum showcasing the town’s salt mining heritage and industrial past. Take a leisurely stroll along the Trent and Mersey Canal, admiring the picturesque waterways and charming narrowboats.
Visit the Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse to delve into the area’s social and industrial history, offering insightful exhibitions and interactive displays. Among the exhibits, you might stumble upon quirky artifacts such as unusual salt containers, vintage advertisements for salt products, or even historical tools and equipment used in the salt-making process. These artifacts provide a glimpse into how vital salt was in daily life and trade.
For shopping and dining, the Barons Quay Shopping Centre provides a modern retail experience, along with eateries serving a variety of cuisines.
Independent shops intersperse with the big branded chains and the High Street is a treasure trove of goodies and gems, all inside nearly presented shop facades that catch the eye and blend in fabulously with the unique charm and character of this invigorating town. One such shop is JS Trophies, which holds the distinction of having created the trophy for the winner (‘Toon Tour’) of the inaugural Great Scenic Journeys UK Open Top Bus Cup in 2023!
Northwich hosts events throughout the year, including festivals, markets, and community gatherings, showcasing local talent and fostering a vibrant community spirit. Check out the former cinema and bingo hall which was built in 1928 and restored in 2022 to become a music venue, with Heaven 17 being the first act to perform live! It’s really been heaven and certainly a temptation for folk to get on board the Cat 9/9A, a blissful 53 minute journey of fun and fascination.
Warrington awaits and Altrincham
After an exploration of Northwich, it’s back on the bus to Warrington, changing at Warrington Bank Quay station for the Cat 5/X5 to Altrincham. It’s a journey which takes 53 minutes on the X5 and 75 on the 5.
This is also a trip through fields and trees, though slightly more built up, but fascinating nonetheless. The bus also serves the wonderful Lymm Dam which was constructed in 1824 to make way for a road, which is now the A56. The dam is a central point with a variety of footpaths, canal paths and the Trans Pennine Trail providing stunning local walks. The area surrounding the dam is renowned for richness in wildlife and the woodlands surrounding the dam contain a variety of trees and a carpet of wildflowers. Birds and bats are often seen around the dam.
The bus then goes through Carrington and the training ground of Stockport County F.C. and Sale Sharks Rugby Union team.
A puck away to action-packed Altrincham
Altrincham approaches and there is plenty to explore here. Altrincham Market is fabulous and is a bustling hub of artisanal food, crafts, and vintage finds. Wander through the charming Stamford Park, with its tranquil lake and well-maintained gardens! History buffs will appreciate Dunham Massey, a stunning Georgian mansion and deer park. For a cultural fix, catch a performance at the Altrincham Garrick Playhouse, known for its theatrical productions. Don’t miss out on the vibrant nightlife, dotted with pubs, bars, and restaurants offering diverse dining experiences. Altrincham provides a delightful blend of history, nature, and entertainment.
Altrincham is also the home of the famous Manchester Storm ice-hockey team. Their next game is against fellow titans of the game, Cardiff Devils on Sunday 22nd October 2023 – face off is at 17:30, so be sure to get down to Planet Ice rink and keep your eye on the puck at all times!
When alighting the Cat 5/X5, check out the clock tower opposite the bus and Metrolink station – it’s an iconic landmark that dates back to 1862. The clock tower was originally built as a drinking fountain and was a significant part of the philanthropic efforts of the time.
For an adventure further afield, the bus stops adjacent to the Metrolink Tram and frequent services to Old Trafford for cricket and football (only 20 minutes away), as well as Manchester City Centre and Bury.
To find out more about these two great routes, check out the links below….