Monday, 25 July 2011

A fair Cop?

Have you ever noticed that stunning natural scenery is rarely matched by stunning man-made architecture? The glorious glens of Scotland are pocked by scruffy bungalows; the wildness of the Pennine hills dotted with farmers' scrap and so on.
The same is true of Mow Cop, the steep hill we have just returned from. It towers like a natural fortress above the fields below and from its summit is a breathtaking 360 degree panorama. North east lie the Pennines, north west in the distant haze you can just make out the tower blocks of the Wirral and Liverpool, swing west and the view goes away to Wales. In the middle distance, the distinct white giant Meccano construction that is Jodrell Bank observatory stands tall in the plain.
Mow Cop is famous for two things: the entertaining 'ruined castle' folly built on its top by a local landowner 250 years ago and the founding of the 'Primitive Methodists' by a local man preaching on the summit.
The folly is an amusement - a sort of Hollywood castle prop but built in real stone rather than polystyrene - and the Methodist connection is probably of interest to Methodists though not to us.
But when you take your eyes away from the scenery or your mind away from religion and look around closer to home you see that Mow Cop is a ghastly mess. Once a few stone cottages and a couple of mills occupied the summit. Today every inch is filled with the worst of 1970s and 1980s houses and bungalows. The sort of bungalows that have lawns trimmed with nail clippers and borders of evergreen shrubs. Some have even hidden themselves from the distant views behind high hedges - presumably to shield their lives from visiting tourists.
It's horrible and despite the best efforts of Mow Cop Residents Association to create a heritage trail round local landmarks like the various chapels and the grave of Hannah Dale, the 33 stone 11 year old girl who died there in 1892 the walk round the hill involves much more dross than floss.
Despite that, those staggering views certainly made the walk well worthwhile.

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