April will see the 75th anniversary of one of the most significant events in the long history of the fight for access to England’s wild country.
One Sunday in 1932, 400 ramblers gathered in a quarry at Hayfield in Derbyshire and set forth on the path to Kinder Scout. They were met by gamekeepers hired by the Duke of Devonshire who tried to block their way.
After a skirmish, the ramblers, led by Benny Rothman and members of the British Workers’ Sport Federation gained the summit of the plateau and were met by fellow trespassers who had set off from Edale.
Five of the trespassers were arrested and subsequently locked up for between two and six months. The harsh sentences shocked the public and the campaign gained further support. The trespass was a pivotal part of the move towards opening up of English moor and fell which led eventually to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act and the continuing struggle to open up the country’s coastline.
A series of celebrations of the trespass is planned during the weekend of 21 and 22 April, including guided walks along the route the ramblers took, exhibitions and the inauguration of a 14-mile Trespass Trail.
There’s a website with details of upcoming events, the historical background and a good deal of extra information, including lyrics to Ewan McColl’s The Manchester Rambler.
The weekend also coincides with the start of the Peak District Walking Festival, which runs until 7 May.