Picture this scenario; a scenario that I’m fairly sure every one of us has experienced at some point in our lives. You think you’re not looking after yourself as well as you could, and you resolve to do something about it. How would you do it? I imagine most people would perhaps draw up a diet plan, maybe get a gym membership or even try and give up smoking or cut down on drinking. I doubt that most people would get off the couch and, with little to no training, attempt to walk 150 miles from one side of Northern England to the other in a week for charity, battling inhospitable terrain, 70mph gales and driving rain in the process.
Comedian Jo Brand is not “most people”.
It was because of this that she ended up in Tameside this week, walking through Broadbottom and Denton on Day 5 of her 7 day journey from the Humber Bridge to Liverpool for Sport Relief. So far she has raised over £400,000 for mental health and issues that affect women and girls in the UK and in the world’s poorest communities. If you want to donate yourself you can do so on the Sport Relief website here.
Jo’s walk has also given us an opportunity to show off some of Tameside’s countryside to a national audience. People that think of us as just a satellite region for Manchester often forget that we have some of the most striking and atmospheric walks and scenery in the country. We have the Longdendale Trail, once a section of the Manchester-Sheffield line and an artery of the Industrial Revolution. We have Werneth Low, with its spectacular views across Manchester and Cheshire, including (on a clear day) the world famous Jodrell Bank Observatory. We have Stalybridge Country Park, whose reservoirs and moors provide a backdrop for all manner of hiking, riding and cycling routes.
These are natural wonders the equal of anything else in the country, and it is right that we should take every opportunity to shout about how proud we are of them. But we also need to think about how we can create natural beauty in Tameside’s urban areas as well. That’s why I will shortly be able to give you details about how we’re going to be planting more trees to encourage greater biodiversity, improve the look of our streets and offset some of our carbon footprint.
If you haven’t yet experienced some of the countryside treasures that Tameside has to offer, then I would urge you to do so as soon as time and weather allow. With over 126 miles of paths and rights of way I’m sure there will be something to suit everybody from the casual stroller to the committed hiker. I hope to see you out there soon.