12 - Access to countryside

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  • People forced off land and into towns and cities are not allowed to return to the countryside for leisure under trespass laws.
  • Kinder Scout mass trespasses in 1932 to protest lack of access to countryside led to Ramblers movement and eventually creation of National Parks in 1949.
  • 60 years later anniversary trespass kick starts movement which leads to the right to roam acts under Labour government in 2000.

songs, poems, quotes and stories Manchester Rambler by Ewan MacColl

washing line

  • 1932 Kinder Scout Trespass
  • 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act
  • 2000 Right To Roam Act

Sample Text

Many who felt trapped in the towns and cities and still had a strong sense of belonging to greener places and a memory of their families connection to the countryside sought to get out to the hills, dales and peaks on their days off from the factories.

Sadly all of the areas they hoped to walk around were privately owned with game keepers to police the land ...there was public access to less than 1% of the Peak District at the time and as you might imagine that 1% was pretty crowded on a sunny day.

In 1932 a group of about 500 ramblers from Manchester and Sheffield held a mass trespass assending Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District. They were met by game keepers on the way up, had a bit of a fight and then six of them were arrested by police on the way down and given jail sentences of 2 to 6 months.

A few weeks later 10,000 people turned out for a 2nd mass trespass which helped the movement to gain momentum although it was to be another 17 years until the post-2nd world war labour government created the national parks to start addressing this issue.

This still did not go far enough in many people's eyes and it took another mass trespass on the 60th anniversary of the original kinder scout trespass to kick start the 'Right To Roam' movement which secured much broader legislation from another new Labour government in the year 2000.

It is worth noting that many of the people who took part in the original action back in 1932 did not get to see the fruits of their actions ...which is a lesson well worth remembering for many of us involved in campaign work today. You might not get to see the fruits of your actions in your lifetime but it is always good to plant seeds as you never know when they might bring fruit.

The folk singer Ewan Maccoll wrote this delightful little song called 'The Manchester Rambler' inspired by the Kinder Scout trespass which he attended as a young lad.