Right to Roam – Mass trespass of Kinder Scout

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The mass trespass of Kinder Scout, also called the Kinder mass trespass, was an act of wilful trespass by ramblers. It was undertaken at Kinder Scout, in the Peak District of Derbyshire, England, on 24 April 1932, to highlight the fact that walkers in England and Wales were denied access to areas of open country. Political and conservation activist Benny Rothman of the Young Communist League of Manchester was one of the leaders of the mass trespass.

Events in 1932

The 1932 trespass was a coordinated protest involving three groups of walkers who approached Kinder Scout from different directions at the same time. The main group estimated at 400 began at Bowden Bridge quarry near Hayfield. It proceeded via William Clough to the plateau of Kinder Scout, where there were violent scuffles with gamekeepers. The ramblers were able to reach their destination and meet with another group at Ashop Head. On the return, five ramblers were arrested, with another detained earlier. Trespass was not a criminal offence in any part of Britain at the time, but some would receive jail sentences of two to six months for offences relating to violence against the keepers. [See note [1]

Political effects

According to the Hayfield Kinder Trespass Group website, this act of civil disobedience was one of the most successful in British history. It arguably led to the passage of the National Parks legislation in 1949. The Pennine Way and other long-distance footpaths were established. Walkers’ rights to travel through common land and open country were protected by the CROW Act of 2000. Though controversial when it occurred, it has been interpreted as the embodiment of “working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands for grouseshooting.”

The Kinder Mass Trespass was one of a number of protests at the time seeking greater access to the moorlands of the northern Peak District. What set it apart from the others was it marked a new and more radical approach to the problem which was not universally popular with rambling groups. The harshness of the sentences imposed on the leaders of the protest was headline news in local and national newspapers, resulting in the issue gaining public attention and sympathy. The subsequent access rally staged in Winnats Pass attracted 10,000 people to attend in support of greater access to the adjacent moorland.
An unintended consequence of the mass trespass was greater interest being paid to ramblers’ behaviour and potential ways to regulate it. This resulted in a ‘Code of Courtesy for the Countryside’ being produced, which was a forerunner of the modern Countryside Code.

Each year a combination of wardens and rangers from both The National Trust and the Peak District National Park Authority hold a walking event to mark the anniversary of the trespass.
A commemorative plaque marks the start of the trespass at Bowden Bridge quarry near Hayfield, now a popular area for ramblers. It was unveiled in April 1982 by Benny Rothman (then aged 70) during a rally to mark the 50th anniversary.

Notes
[1] “Also they were never charged with the offence of trespass. The charges of unlawful assembly were changed to the more serious charge of riotous assembly. Mr Justice MacKinnon at Chester Assizes in 1933 stated that the Act of Parliament which made it an offence to trespass after being warned not to do so had been repealed, making ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’ signs unenforceable.”

Sources
Rothman, Benny. (1982) 1932 Kinder Trespass: Personal View of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass. Willow Publishing. ISBN 0-9506043-7-

Wikimedia Commons

This entry was posted in Celebration and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Right to Roam – Mass trespass of Kinder Scout

  1. Alexis Coles says:

    How funny that this should be your subject this week as I joined the ramblers today and went on my first walk. We can all travel around freely thanks to these brave people who stood up for the rights to travel on common land, thank goodness they did

  2. marian philips says:

    A change from Burrower’s usual style, but fascinating…………

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.