City breaks to Manchester don’t have to be all about the bright lights and urban hustle and bustle. The Peak District, the Pennines, the Cheshire Plains… the UK’s northern capital has lashings of beautiful countryside right on its doorstep and, with excellent transport links, you can be rambling in some wide open spaces within minutes of leaving your Manchester hotel.
Just under ten miles from the city is the stunning Werneth Low Country Park and it’s a special place to visit all-year-round. From winter walks to blow the cobwebs away to summer picnics with spectacular sunset views, there are 200-acres of gorgeous greenery to explore. But the real attraction has to be the panoramic views from the top of Werneth Low hill. Some 900 feet at its highest point, you can even see as far as the Welsh mountains on a clear day.
With well-cared-for paths that are perfect for walking, cycling or horse-riding, it still feels pretty wild and windswept. Climb up to the top to pay your respects at the war memorial, head to the Visitor Centre to find out more about the area’s history or do a spot of bird-watching - the park’s a twitcher’s paradise, famous for its kestrels, linnets and lapwings. Or, if you fancied a real challenge, join the 215 mile coast-to-coast walking route called the Trans-Pennine Trail - it passes right through the heart of Werneth Low.
And if you’re looking for a place to rest your weary legs after all that walking, the nearby Premier Inn Manchester Tameside (Hyde) hotel is less than three miles away - perfect for a hearty, post-walk feed and a deep sleep in a comfy king-sized bed.
Your Instagram followers will love the stunning views from the top of Werneth Low hill. But when you’re not filling up your social media with majestic shots of Manchester landmarks like the Beetham Tower and Jodrell Bank Observatory, what else is there to do?
This stone obelisk is on the upper-most point of Werneth Low hill (a place enchantingly called Hackingknife). You can reach it via various tracks, with the most popular being from the Visitor Centre on Higham Lane. Originally built in 1921 in memory of the 710 local men who died in the Great War, a plaque was added in 1963 that commemorated the servicemen and women, and civilians, who died during the Second World War. Boasting benches and some of the best views in the park, it’s a lovely place to stop on your walk.
Lower Higham Visitor Centre at Werneth Low is packed with information on the history of the area. The centre has its fair share of history itself - the building dates back to the 17th Century and was once the farm house of Lower Higham Estate. Inside there are free displays and exhibitions, and you can also pick up leaflets, souvenirs and light refreshments - or just visit the loo. Open from 1pm to 4pm on Tuesdays, weekends and bank holidays, you’ll find the area outside it interesting too, with its orchard, herb gardens and croft picnic area.
Within the country park you’ll find surfaced footpaths that are suitable for prams, buggies and wheelchairs, meaning the whole family can enjoy a day out in nature. There’s a system of horse and cycle paths, as well as lots of informal gardens and picnic areas. You don’t have to walk far to find a bench, plus there are handy viewfinders that point out all the interesting bits of the vista. Go on a windy day and you’ll see lots of kites. Want to take your own? Single line kites are fine, but stunt kites are not allowed.
With evening runs, Nordic walking, stargazing opportunities and amazing fireworks displays on bonfire night - there’s always something fun happening at Werneth Low Country Park. The park's own Countryside Ranger Service put on educational events, such as guided strolls, all-day rambles and children's activities in the school holidays, or there’s orienteering and geocaching to take part in. For details of all events taking place at Werneth Low Country Park, have a look at Tameside Council's Events Calendar.
Pack your picnic and a kite and get ready to enjoy your day in the countryside. Just remember that wellies are a must - although footpaths are paved, they can get muddy!
You’ll find Werneth Low Country Park at Higham Lane, Hyde SK14 5LR. Because it’s the countryside, it’s free for everyone - and it never closes!
There’s easy access from Lower Higham car park into the visitor centre, which has a disabled toilet. There’s a wheelchair route from Quarry car park to the war memorial.
If you think a country walk could be much improved by hitting some tiny white balls with a big metal stick, head to Werneth Low Golf Club. The friendly club welcomes visiting players, and only costs £11 for a round. Watch out for the amazing views - and the lovely Clubhouse that opens at midday every day.
If culture’s more your thing, just two miles away from Werneth Low Country Park in Ashton-under-Lyne, you’ll find the Portland Basin Museum. The building’s worth a look in its own right - a former 19th-century warehouse, the interior’s been brought bang up to date. Now the epitome of a modern, family friendly museum, the best thing to see here is the walk-through street, which really brings history to life.
No picnic? No problem. There are light refreshments available at the Lower Higham Visitor Centre, and plenty of places for a slap-up lunch nearby.
There’s nothing better than some good pub grub after all that walking, and luckily, the Hare & Hounds on Werneth Low Road fits the bill perfectly. Built in 1728, this rustic pub has a cosy feel complete with open fires, low ceilings and exposed beams. With panoramic views of its own, it’s magical to come here at sunset. But it’s not just the prime location that makes the Hare & Hounds so popular - the food is tasty and affordable. Winning rave reviews for its afternoon teas, you’ll also find deals where two of you can enjoy steak and wine for under £20.
Head back down the road towards Hyde and you’ll come to The Stables. Awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for its consistently good reviews, it’s modern European cuisine at its finest. Family-run and housed in converted stables, the interior makes the most of the building’s original features, but the Stables’ main attraction is the food. Flavour-packed starters of leek, potato and Roquefort soup, delectable, fall-off-the-fork meats and Sunday lunches are the order of the day here, all paired with wines off a seriously extensive wine list.
Werneth Low Country Park is 9.3 miles from Manchester city centre. It’s easiest to get there by car, but there are other ways if driving’s not an option.
Take the A57 from Manchester city centre, then look out for the brown and white direction signs. There are three car parks when you get there: Lower Higham, the Quarry and Windy Harbour.
By public transport
Take the train from Manchester Piccadilly to Hyde Central, then hop on the 206 bus. The nearest bus stop is in Gee Cross on the main A560 south of Hyde. Then walk up Baron Road to the country park.
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