If you're looking for an excuse to check out the various areas around Manchester, as well as get a little sloshed along the way, get on the tram and get off at every stop from Alty to town.
We’re going to start at the beginning, so it’s Line 1. It’s huge so it’s been split into two. Anyone that manages to do the whole Altrincham to Bury – you won’t be getting a medal because you’ll be dead.
There are so many places to go to in Altrincham that it can take its own fully-fledged Finest Day out article all on its own. The place is so jam-packed full of exciting and brilliant restaurants, bars and cafes that you could be here all day. This is a pub crawl though so you’ve not got all day – just a quick stop and then you’re off. First off, head on over to Altrincham Market and get yourself some food to line your stomach (alongside a nice pint or glass of wine of course). There’s plenty to choose from including stunning pizzas from Honest Crust, meat at Tender Cow or a cracking pie at the Great North Pie Co. Once you’ve stuffed your face, I would also recommend a swift one in Mort Subite – the basement Belgian Bar just opposite. They have a fantastic range of strong Belgian lagers and beers which will be the perfect aperitif to your upcoming journey.
Altrincham Market & Market House, 26 Market St, Altrincham WA14 1PF
The Old Packet House
Now it must be said, when you get off the tram at Navigation Road, it doesn’t look like there is much here. And that would be true. There’s a few houses, probably a woman walking her dog, a few trees and a car lot that would make Barry Evans look small time. There is a lovely boozer right next to the train tracks – the LMRCA Railway Club – but unless you want to shell out for membership, you’re going to have to go for a bit of a walk. Take a stroll down Navigation Road for about 5 minutes and you’ll end up at The Old Packet House, a boozer which used to service the workers on the canal and now serves up decent food, loads of booze and plenty of smiles to the myriad of walkers, cyclists and pub crawlers of the area.
The Old Packet House, 1 Navigation Rd, Altrincham WA14 1LW
As the tram lines follow the canal the next stop is good old Timperley and the extremely convenient Timperley Taverners. Unluckily for many of us, it is once again a bloody members’ only club – most likely to keep the riff-raff out and the prices low. The next best bet then is the Moss Trooper, another 10 minute walk away through the streets of this fine town. This JW Lees will be a shining oasis just beckoning for you to sit down, have a pint and perhaps a big bag of juicy Quavers. Grab a nice frosty drink, have a bit of a laugh and get the hell out of there.
Moss Trooper, Moss Ln, Timperley, Altrincham WA15 6JU
Arriving in Brooklands and you’ve got yourself the choice of two ‘Brook’ themed pubs. There’s The Brook right next to the station, and the Brooklands Tap just a short walk away across the main road. When we did this, we went to the Brooklands – it’s a decent pub and the prices are good. The Brook though is much closer to the tram stop and is an altogether classy little boozer. They usually have a top selection of local ales here, and you’ll pretty much always find a group of locals enjoying themselves in the little beer garden out front. Join them and sink a pint before the next tram arrives.
The Brook, Brooklands Rd, Sale M33 3SQ
0161 973 7773
You’re a little spoilt for choice in Sale as the whole town’s bars and restaurants seem to hug the tram stop like a child holding on to its teddy during an alien invasion. Right on top of the tram stop is the King’s Ransom, there’s the Slug & Lettuce and even a Wetherspoons – should you be so inclined. The King’s Ransom is pretty decent, with an excellent outside bit that leads right onto the canal, but if it’s pissing down or cold outside – this won’t matter really. Inside it’s still pretty nice and it’s so bloody big that if you can’t find a seat you’re either blind or an absolute idiot. I’m going to recommend The Steamhouse though, mostly because of their excellent range of foreign tap and bottled beers and also because it’s a generally decent pub in which to sit down, relax and explain complex road directions using beer mats.
The Steamhouse, 25 Northenden Rd, Sale M33 2DH
The Bridge Pub & Dining
Yay! You’re on Dane Road now – how lucky you are! Well, I’m racking my brains now trying to remember The Bridge and drinking in there but I was so drunk that I just wasn’t making memories anymore. I do have little flashbacks of walking over the bridge and the canal to get there but actually going in and ordering is a bit of a blur. I’m sure you’ll be fine at this point though. From the pictures this place looks lovely, with a massive terrace out front that would be perfect for catching some rays, as well as an almost boat-esque interior which wouldn’t look out of place getting attached by a shark in Jaws 2. Can’t really go wrong with this bad boy – just try and remember it.
The Bridge Inn, Dane Rd, Sale M33 7QH
Stretford Food Hall and Stretford Sip Club
Down my neck of the woods now and there are a couple of options here for you. If you’re not a fan of walking you can head straight to Stretford Mall and have a pint in the new(ish) Stretford Food Hall. They’ve always got a great selection of ales on tap, as well as some great street food options. Alternatively you can head towards the Stretford Sip Club for one of the city’s best hidden little gems. Looking like someone’s front room, the Sip Club is a belting little pub/bar – offering a fantastic range of local ales and an excellent selection of ciders. There’s always a good laugh in here, and it’s so small that you can’t help but chat to everyone. Brilliant.
The Sip Club, 164A Barton Road, Stretford, Manchester M32 8DP
Old Trafford, home of Man Utd and Lancashire Cricket Club. Loads of boozers around here right? Wrong. With the tram stop so close to the cricket ground that you can smell Freddie Flintoff’s jock strap, there’s going to be a bit of a walk to The Quadrant, a decent neighbourhood Joey Holt pub that, from the outside, looks like somewhere Shakespeare would have cracked open a few tinnies. Joseph Holt pubs sell probably one of the best fizzy commercial lagers known to man – Diamond – which manages to not only taste great but access the parts of your brain that command your motor ability and complete rip the shit out of them. Make sure you only have one of these – don’t go too far or this will be your last stop.
The Quadrant, 67 Great Stone Rd, Stretford, Manchester M32 8GR
The Toll Gate
You’re much closer to United’s ground now so as you’d expect The Toll Gate is a proper full on red bar. It’s redder than Simply Red eating a tomato while stood in an old phone box on Comic Relief Day while listening to Chris De Burgh. If you’re not a United fan, keeping your mouth shut would be my advice. The Toll Gate looks proper weird from the outside – more like a Matalan on a 90’s retail park than a pub but once you’re in – everything is present and correct. Grab yourself a pint, play on the quiz machine or generally just sit around watching whatever is on one of their 342 tellies.
The Toll Gate, Seymour Grove, Stretford, Manchester M16 0TG
0161 312 2308
The Banyan Tree
One of the biggest hubs of the Metrolink, this station is going to feature in so many of these guides that I’m going to be sick and tired of talking about it. Probably by the end of this paragraph. The main problem here is that it’s in the middle of nowhere so there are no boozers even in the vicinity – not even good ones. So, the next piece of advice may shock you – you should walk from this stop to the next and hit up a pub on the way. There’s a couple of decent ones on the way, closest of which is The Banyan Tree. It’s a decent dog-friendly bar with surprisingly good food and plenty of bevvies. Alternatively, a little further walk will bring you out at Castlefield Basin where you can check out The Wharf, Dukes 92 or Barca – all excellent options.
The Banyan Tree, Unit 3, Moho Building, Ellesmere St, Manchester M15 4JY
From here, it’s just a short 3 minute walk to the next stop. Ah – the pleasures of being in the city centre.
By now you’re probably pretty bloated by the amount of fizzy lager you’ve been drinking – well now it’s time to cleanse that pallet and get something different inside you. luckily, Atlas Bar right underneath Deansgate station has the biggest selection of gins in the city centre with over 300 bottles of the stuff in here, and with such a vast amount to choose from; it can sometimes be difficult to make a decision. Don’t be annoying – choose one, sit down in their brilliant terrace out back and relax.
Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
St Peters Square
The Temple of Convenience
Now that we’re in the city centre there’s loads of options for drinking at every stop. I’m not going to go around listing them all for you – just use Google Maps if you have half a brain in your head. What I will do though is recommend my favourite place in the area and if it sounds alright then go. If it sounds shit, go somewhere else. Just a short walk from St Peter’s Square tram stop is The Temple of Convenience – a legendary Manchester pub which is located within an old public toilet. As such it’s absolutely tiny, but within such small dimensions the owners have managed to cram one of the best jukeboxes in the city, as well as one of the best selections of beers known to man. If you don’t strike up a conversation with a stranger in this place, you’re Rain Man.
The Temple, 100 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JW
0161 278 1610
Final stop now and you may be mistaken for thinking you’re in hell on Earth. No, it’s just Market Street and although it’s a major pain in the arse, a small walk in any direction typically brings you out somewhere decent. Again, there’s loads of options, but personally from here I’d head up down the side of Debenhams and head towards Black Dog under Affleck’s Palace. I’ve never had a bad time in here, the cocktails are excellent, the food is fantastic and there are always some top tunes playing. On top of this there’s pool tables to have a play on – if you can still see, as well as The Bunker where they might be having a club night.
Black Dog Ballroom, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
There you go – that does it. Well done. Next stop will be Line 1 Part 2 – Bury to Market Street.