Andy Cave, left, strides out at the event that marked 10 years of increased access. Photo: Peak District NPA

Andy Cave, left, strides out at the event that marked 10 years of increased access. Photo: Peak District NPA

Top climber Andy Cave led a walk on open access land to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the ‘right to roam’.

The South Yorkshire mountaineer joined a group heading out from the Moorland Discovery Centre at Longshaw, marking the doubling in size of the Peak District’s access land following the passing by the last Labour government of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

Overnight in September 2004, the area open to walkers and climbers in Britain’s first national park grew to more than 500sq km.

Former miner Andy Cave joined access campaigner Terry Howard, landscape and wildlife photographer Alex Hyde, author Roly Smith and Lynn Crowe, professor of environmental management at Sheffield Hallam University, in the event organised jointly by the Ramblers and the British Mountaineering Council.

Councillor Andrew McCloy, chair of the park’s audit resources and performance committee and chair of the local access forum at the time, said: “It is an incredibly important piece of access legislation and we are very proud of what it has meant.

“It has given people confidence when they go on to the moors and a sense of freedom to explore. There is a feeling of freedom in the wilder parts of the national park that you don’t always get if you follow a well worn path.

“The important thing is to make people aware that it is there for them. And it doesn’t always have to mean walking through a wilderness, you can use it to relax by a stream or enjoy a family picnic.”

The Peak District authority recently set up an access fund to raise cash to improve access in the future.

Sue Smith, the national park’s access officer, said: “This is about looking after our access areas and making them more accessible.

“Any money raised will go towards projects such as replacing stiles with wicket gates, dedicating new areas of access or creating concession paths with the agreement of landowners to open up even more of the park.”

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act was passed in 2000, but its provisions, giving limited rights to walk and climb in hitherto closed areas, were introduced gradually across England and Wales.

Wider access encompassing activities such as mountain biking, paddling and wild camping are available in Scotland under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

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