It's never been easy to get to our rural pubs without a car. But it can be done with a little advance planning. We have the TransPennine Trail for walkers, horse rides and cyclists. We have the Bridgewater Canal if you've hired or can afford to buy a narrowboat. And we still have a few bus routes.

Recently though the long-standing Altrincham - Warrington bus route was diverted away from Dunham Massey and Dunham Woodhouses, leaving such fine pubs as the Axe & Cleaver, the Swan with Two Nicks, the Vine, the Rope & Anchor, and the Dunham Apple Barn even more isolated. The reasons are complex but centre on the low bridge where the canal crosses Woodhouse Lane (the B5160). The bridge hasn't changed, nor it seems have the buses. But the safety margin between the height of the bus and the height of the bridge has been reviewed. The bridge is now signed as 9 feet high and the buses are officially 9 feet and 3 inches tall. They can't pass under the bridge, and there's nowhere convenient for them to turn, so they run via Partington instead.

But changes are in hand!

Firstly, two LocalLink ("dial a ride") bus services have been extended to cover Dunham Massey - see and

Anyone can use them but you must register and book in advance, so it's not suitable for spontaneous "looks like a nice day" trips. You can register for the Dunham Massey service - - which also covers Lymm and Partington. Or for the Partington service - - which to be honest seems to be exactly the same thing. You don't need to live in Dunham Massey, or Partington, or Lymm; you can live on the Moon and still use this service.

The LocalLink buses take concession cards and Getmethere cards and System One cards and tickets, so no need to pay twice if you use two different bus routes. Or you can pay on the bus (provided you've booked). It's a flat fare of £2.65 per journey, and yes, they do still take cash.

Secondly, the Greater Manchester Transport Committee has been discussing the problem of serving Dunham Massey and Dunham Woodhouse. They're planning to support a new bus route numbered 280. It will run hourly during the day between Altrincham, Bowdon, Dunham Massey, Dunham Woodhouses, Warburton, Partington, Carrington, Ashton-on-Mersey and Sale. (And back again!)

Thirdly, Warrington bus CAT5A will be diverted slightly to serve the Rope & Anchor - but not the Vine. It will run from Warburton to Sinderland Road via the Dunham Road, then Henshall Lane, Red House Lane and Altrincham Crematorium. The CAT5 bus will continue to serve Partington.

The changes to the 280 and CAT5A routes should take effect at the end of April. The LocalLink buses will be revised at the same time. They will concentrate on providing a service in the early morning, the evening and on Sundays, when the 280 doesn't run.

The new timetables will be on Transport for Greater Manchester's website in April, at

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