Today (24th April 2022) marks the 90th Anniversary of the Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout in England. Kinder Scout is a moorland plateau, and has the highest point in the Peak District, at 636m above sea level. The Peak District is surrounded by a number of towns and cities, including Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby and Stoke-on-Trent. The Mass Trespass was a catalyst for change, and led to the opened up of access for the common person on land owned by the wealthy. The Mass Trespass ignited change that resulted in freedoms we still enjoy today.
What was the Mass Trespass?
On the 24th of April 1932 an estimated 400-500 people walked from the village of Hayfield (often described as being at the foot of Kinder Scout) up onto Kinder Scout from many different directions. This was a mass protest against trespass laws that did not allow people freedom to walk around the English and Welsh countryside. It was organised by the Benny Rothman and the British Workers’ Sports Federation in Manchester. They spread the word which lead to groups from both Derbyshire and Sheffield joining also.
The Mass Trespass was largely seen as the working class (that wanted to be able to access land for leisure purposes) revolting against wealthy land owners (that didn’t allow people onto their land as they wanted to keep it for gamekeeping). No-one was arrested for the trespass but several people were arrested due to fighting with gamekeepers and landowners, including Benny.
The Mass Trespass, its coverage, and the subsequent jail sentences (generally considered harsh) led to public sympathy for the cause. Ultimately the Mass Trespass was a turning point that helped forge the way for the creation of National Parks (and AONB) in 1949, the opening of the Pennine Way in 1965, the Country Code and the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000 (the "CRoW Act"). The CRoW act was brought into effect in late 2005 - the delay was to allow for the update of maps for accurate enforcement of the Act.
There are now 15 National Parks in the UK (10 in England, 2 in Scotland and 3 in Wales). The Peak District, home of Kinder Scout, was the first National Park in the UK and was created in 1951. Kinder Scout is now a well-loved and popular hill for hiking. The National Park Authorities are tasked with protecting the land and nature, while also maintain the footpaths throughout the land for all to access.
The CRoW Act means the general public now can freely walk on access land (areas of mountain, moor, heath and down) even if it is privately owned. Access land is shown on maps and in these areas you do not have to stick to the path.
So next time you’re out enjoying Britain’s glorious countryside, give a thought to the Mass Trespass and those that fought for us to have the freedoms we enjoy today.
As a nod to the Mass Trespass, we've decided to launch our new 'Winter Walks' series of events with a day hike at Kinder Scout. We're also taking £20 off the first 5 tickets sold using code 'MassTrespass'. To find out more about these day hiking events, click the link below:
Discover our event, Wild Camping for Beginners;
Find Adventure Solos on YouTube here;
Join us for a Canoe Scotland event, paddling right across Scotland;
Want to set yourself a hiking challenge? Take a look here.
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