In the guest post below, Gwenda Owen of Ramblers Cymru explains how the mass trespass 80 years ago on Kinder Scout has made the new Wales Coast Path possible and how the GeoVation Challenge may help people to engage with it.
This week here at the Ramblers we’re celebrating the mass trespass that took place 80 years ago on Kinder Scout. As someone relatively new to Ramblers I’m only just beginning to truly appreciate the ‘battles’ that have been fought to secure the right to walk on paths that I’ve enjoyed and on the whole taken for granted.
Had the working people of Greater Manchester and Yorkshire not risked imprisonment in challenging the restrictions imposed by many landowners it is unlikely we would be celebrating the opening of the Wales Coast Path on May 5th. The account taken from Ramblers.org.uk highlights the steps which lead us to where we are today.
‘It is widely agreed that the Mass Trespass was a pivotal event in the fight for walkers’ access rights. A few weeks later, 10,000 ramblers – many more than the few hundred at Kinder Scout – took part in an access rally at Winnats Pass, near Castleton. A further mass trespass also took place on the Bradfield Moors in South Yorkshire in September 1932.
Less than three years after the Mass Trespass, the Ramblers Association was created from the National Council of Ramblers’ Federations. Although the Federation had not endorsed the Mass Trespass, the newly formed Ramblers Association set about lobbying for access to hills, for the creation of long distance paths and national parks and for better protection of public rights of way.
In 1949, following the disruptions of World War II and a period of hard-fought campaigning by the Ramblers, the National Parks and Countryside Act was passed. Foundations were laid for access rights to open country, for the creation of national parks and long distance paths and for rights of way to be surveyed and recorded on maps.
The events at Kinder Scout on 24 April 1932 were also instrumental in the Peak District becoming the first designated national park in 1951. The Pennine Way, which runs north for 268 miles from the Peak District all the way to the Scottish Borders, was the first long-distance footpath to be opened in 1965.
The Mass Trespass also had far-reaching implications for access, culminating in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 which granted the right to roam in open countryside in England and Wales. This was followed by the Land Reform Act 2003 which granted statutory access rights to almost all land in Scotland, making it one of the most walker-friendly countries in Europe.’
Wales Coast Path
The Ramblers and others continued to campaign, negotiate and undertake practical work and we are now able to ‘beat the bounds’ of our nation by walking the Wales Coast Path . This is what we’ll be doing on May 5th on our Big Welsh Coastal Walk when we’ll be joined by 1000’s of people. The full potential of the Wales Coast Path to have an enormously positive impact on both local communities and visitors has yet to be realised and we hope that the GeoVation Challenge will prove to be one of the key motivators in engaging people in all that it has to offer.
Community Engagement Officer
If you would like to enter the GeoVation Challenge and be in with a chance to win a slice of £125,000 in funding then hurry, the closing date is 12 noon on 2 May2012