Ash Farm is best known as the home of Dunham Massey Farm Ice Cream – but there’s so much more going on there this Christmas.
We spoke to fourth generation farmer Rick Pennington.
ALTRINCHAM TODAY: Can you give us a potted history of Ash Farm – it’s been in the family for a few years?
RICK PENNINGTON: Yes I’m the fourth generation at Ash Farm. It was originally a dairy farm and is now a mixed arable and cattle suckler herd. When my grandad and dad farmed here the ice cream parlour is where the cows used to be milked.
AT: You’re well known locally as the home of Dunham Massey Farm Ice Cream – can you tell us a bit more about that?
RP: It was originally set up in 1996 when my sister left Muller Yoghurt to create the best handmade ice cream around! It’s still handmade in small batches. Flavours have slowly grown and now we have a range of 40 flavours which rotate in the freezer.
Up until four years ago the ice cream was sold in a little building where it was take-out only with no seating. With the current ice cream parlour redundant we took the decision to create what you see today, allowing us to expand into the cafe and a wider range of ice cream products.
AT: Looking around here, there’s a huge array of other attractions and reasons to visit, from pygmy goats to a cafe. Can you take people through what they can expect if they pay a visit?
RP: Since opening the cafe it has given us the opportunity to grow, introducing hot drinks and a range of warm food offerings.
As you go through the building it opens up to the teepee and the goat shed. The teepee was originally bought during Covid to provide covered and well-ventilated seating. Now it is part of our seasonal events.
In summer time we have a sunflower and wildflower trail, and then in October we have a pick-your-own pumpkin event. We decorate the parlour and teepee for each season – currently it is a winter wonderland.
The pygmy goats are a big hit! Everybody loves them – they are so mischievous. Also, the cows will shortly be coming back into the sheds and we are expecting them to calve mid to late December. Visitors will be able to view around the teepee areas. We also have the rabbit garden, where the rabbits can be seen in their fantastic runs.
AT: We’re coming up to Christmas now and the farm is looking incredibly festive. Tell us a bit about your Christmas offer this year.
RP: So this year we have transformed the parlour and teepee into a magic winter wonderland. Father Christmas will be visiting us in his grotto, and we also have the naughty elf scavenger hunt.
We also have a large selection of freshly cut British Christmas trees and wreaths. It might even be snowing as you look around the Christmas trees, thanks to our snow machine! There’s so much more – we’ll be having some special festive ice cream flavours in the parlour, and a range of festive food and drink offerings including mulled wine and cider, and cheeky hot chocolates.
‘Moving here has inspired me’
Pamela Macauley, owner of Vintage Angel gift shop at Ash Farm, does not regret moving her shop from Altrincham town centre.
I love living in the village and now having my shop here. Instead of a busy road in front I have fields and hedgerows. It’s now a destination shop and customers are able to shop and then have a homemade ice cream or tea and cake. It’s perfect.
If anyone remembers my shop at Christmas in Altrincham they won’t be disappointed as it still has the beautiful displays that are full of magic and sparkle. The change of location to the countryside has also inspired me to add more products with a countryside theme to reflect our location but the overall look is still pretty and vintage.
We sell more cards and small gifts now and the focus after the pandemic has been finding independent UK designers and makers to support small businesses like myself and the cafe.
We are also official stockists of Frenchic Paint that is so easy to use and can transform old kitchens, front doors and furniture.
For more information, visit dunhammasseyicecream.com or follow @dunhammasseyicecream on Facebook and Instagram.
Photography: Laura Marie Linck