This is the spectacular woodland lake with a celebrity chef’s pub and deli alongside - a combination that has made it a lockdown must-visit for thousands.

The beauty of Lymm Dam and the surrounding woods has long made it a destination for keen walkers - with the added bonus for foodies of it being right next to a pub and deli from one of the region’s most acclaimed chefs.

Chef Aiden Byrne, the youngest ever winner of a Michelin star, has reinvented his Church Green pub in the Cheshire village to adapt to lockdown restrictions, with his new deli on the site becoming a huge success through lockdown.

With his freshly-made cakes, croissants, pies, sausage rolls and sandwiches as well as a full range of charcuterie, fine wines and fresh fruit and vegetables, it has become an essential foodie destination for those in the area.

Sarah Byrne and husband Aiden Byrne run the Church Green deli

And, in the months of the 2021 lockdown, queues would snake all the way down to the Dam as walkers lined up for hot coffee, cakes and ice cream at the deli takeaway after their daily exercise in the village, near Altrincham.

Aiden, famously the former chef at Manchester House, and wife Sarah have had the Church Green pub for the past 13 years.

But it has taken lockdown to make them realise what a gem they had right before their eyes.

Aiden says: “Lockdown has changed everything for us in a really positive way.

Sarah and Aiden Byrne in their huge beer garden at the Church Green, Lymm

“We’ve gone from dragging our heels, trundling along, to this huge whirlwind.

"We’ve been overwhelmed with the support that the people of Lymm gave us before we even opened the deli, but now it’s just incredible, we have people coming from far and wide.

"I didn’t realise so many people knew where Lymm was!”

It was during the first full lockdown in March 2020, with the pub forced to shut, that Aiden decided to start working on his pie-making skills at home in Lymm.

Pies at the Church Green deli

And, having made too many for his family of five to eat for themselves, he messaged their street’s WhatsApp group to see if anyone would like one.

Aiden laughs: “Suddenly everyone on the street wanted a pie.”

Sensing an opportunity, Sarah posted about Aiden’s pies to the wider Lymm community Facebook group, and suddenly they were flooded with requests.

Aiden says: “I was making 400 pies at home in the kitchen, it was going crazy. Sarah would shout 'someone is asking if you can make some scones as well, come on we've got to pay the mortgage!'

“But it made us realise there was an opportunity here.”

It was the spur for the couple to set to work renovating an old garage next to the main pub.

Aiden and Sarah Byrne at their Church Green deli

It had been a dumping ground for old machines and covered in spiders’ webs, but the couple set to work turning it into a fresh new space for their modern deli, complete with ice cream freezer, coffee machines, charcuterie and pie fridge and shelves for freshly-baked bread.

All of the fresh-baked produce is proudly hand made by Aiden and his team in the Church Green kitchens.

Cakes at the Church Green deli

At the same time the Byrnes began to redevelop their outdoor space and beer gardens at the pub which would prove a vital step to boosting the business when successive lockdown and tier restrictions came into force allowing outdoor dining.

But it was when the second full lockdown came in after Christmas 2020 that the deli business really came into its own.

Aiden said: “It was on New Year’s Day when I really appreciated our position - not just in Lymm but in Cheshire - because of being next to the Dam.

Lymm Dam in the morning sunlight

“There were queues from the deli right down to the Dam because everyone was out doing their daily exercise and then calling here for a takeaway.

"I was like how has this even happened?

“We’d been here 13 years but suddenly I had that lightbulb moment.

"Just look at our position here - if I went to try and find a location like this again, I’d never find it. It’s so unique.”

The beautiful woodland walk around Lymm Dam

Sarah adds: “Just before lockdown I said to Aiden I've seen this lovely little pub for sale, it’s by some water, it’s a beautiful location and he said ‘brilliant let's go and see it’, and I said, 'it's ours - it’s what we’ve got - let's invest in that'.

“And it was the best thing we ever did.”

Aiden says that without the success of the deli takeaway the couple would have had to make staff redundant as they didn’t qualify for government support.

But now, it’s been such a success, going hand-in-hand with the reopened pub, the Byrnes are now aiming to recruit another 15 staff across the site to cope with demand.

The takeaway hatch at the deli where people queue for coffees, ice cream, cakes and sandwiches

Aiden says: “Everything we had we put into that and luckily the deli has been the perfect opportunity to keep us fresh in people’s minds.

“People came to rely on us, and it went crazy. We were all in there on the counters serving and I’d created this role for myself as shopkeeper in from 5.30am every day flat out making all the produce ourselves.”

It has become a true family-run business with the couple’s daughter Lauren, 18, and son Harrison, 16 also busy at the deli, while the couple laugh that their 11-year-old Bella is pretty much in charge of it all.

As for what’s next? Well the Byrnes have just put the finishing touches to a new wood-fired pizza oven and BBQ shack in the extended beer gardens to prepare for a summer of outside dining.

And, long term, there are plans to turn the rooms in the upstairs of the pub into ten boutique bedrooms too.

Aiden and Sarah Byrne at the Church Green deli

After the demise of Manchester House and the reopened Restaurant MCR where Aiden had famously hoped to win a Michelin Star, and his decision to withdraw from his planned project at Black Friars in Salford, he says there are now no plans to return to city centre fine dining projects.

“How it feels now, it feels like a new business here," Aiden says. "It feels like a new exciting project, but it’s actually what we had all along.

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I don’t feel like I’m chasing anything anymore.

“We've got this gorgeous pub, let's make the most of it.”

Church Green pub and deli, 4 Higher Lane, Lymm, Cheshire, WA13 0AP, W: