Werneth Low

Published 21 June 2020

A gate with a view, on Werneth Low

I was born in a small town called Hyde about seven miles east of Manchester city centre. I’d like to say it’s not a famous town. But it is. And not in a particularly good way. If you look at the notable people of Hyde as listed on Wikipedia, you’ll spot several people convicted of serious crimes. On the other hand, Hyde was where boxer Ricky Hatton grew up. And Timmy Mallet went to the town’s grammar school (which later became the sixth form college where I did my A-Levels.)

I left Hyde for university in the mid 1990s, moved to London, but a few years ago moved back to the North. Not to Hyde, but to a town called Marple a few miles away.

Marple is smaller, but has similarities with Hyde. For starters both towns are on the edge of Greater Manchester, with countryside nearby. Both are very close to the hills, and to the Peak District. Also Marple is where Timmy Mallet grew up.

And then there’s Werneth Low.

Werneth Low is a hill that sits between Hyde and Marple. Kind of like a natural boundary between the two.

It’s not a particularly big hill. It’s only 279m above sea level at its highest point. But it is a lot higher than a lot of places round here, has a road that goes over it, and has good views. And a very popular pub.

Find the right part of Werneth Low and you’ll get some amazing views towards the Peak District. You can see towards Kinder Scout, Bleaklow, and many other parts of the Pennine Way. But most people come for the views over the city of Manchester and beyond. Especially the views that come from close to the pub.

On a good day you can see into Wales. Towards the coast at Merseyside. But most of the time you’ll see the towers of Manchester. Come at night and you’ll find the lights of the city twinkling for as far as the eyes can see.

I have spent a lot of time on Werneth Low over the years. My parents would drive us up when we were children. Have a walk, sometimes then going for Sunday lunch at the pub. When I was in the Scouts we once went up for a “wide game” where we had to find and defuse an “IRA bomb” that had mysteriously been placed up near the War Memorial (this seemed perfectly logical in the 1980s.) I once knackered a wheel of my mum’s car driving on the road along the top of the hill (I still have no idea how.) I’ve walked up there on walking trails like the Cown Edge Way and the Etherow-Goyt Valley Way. And I visit it with my children. We stroll around, look out across city and marvel at the view.

The last time I walked up Werneth Low was with my other half on a rare child free day just before the schools closed in March. We’d dropped the children off with my parents so we could spend some time planning how we’d organise ourselves during the period of Covid-19 related homeschooling. How we’d somehow juggle our competing work needs with the requirement to look after a seven and a three year old. As Werneth Low was between us and my parents house, we stopped off for a breath of fresh air on our way home. Enjoyed the view. An hour or so to relax. Relax before the madness began.

It dawns on me as I type this that Werneth Low’s not only played a big part of my life up to now, but it probably will for the most of the rest of my life. Unless, for some reason, I up sticks and move to a completely different part of the country, Werneth Low is likely to remain a place right on my doorstep. And that’s fine. For Werneth Low is a great place and I’ll never stop liking it.

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