Spirit of Kinder speakers: from left, Dave Morris, Ann Beedham, Chris Sainty and Chris Townsend. Photo: Keith Warrender

Spirit of Kinder speakers: from left, Dave Morris, Ann Beedham, Chris Sainty and Chris Townsend. Photo: Keith Warrender

A former Ramblers boss urged outdoor enthusiasts to start stepping off rights of way in a quest to erode the concept of trespass.

Dave Morris, ex-director of the walkers’ charity in Scotland, was speaking at an event commemorating the Kinder Scout Trespass in the Peak District.

He told the Spirit of Kinder Day that if English walkers wanted to enjoy the same rights to roam as their counterparts in Scotland, they must be prepared to start a ‘steady erosion of the concept of trespass in the countryside.

The celebration of the events of 1932 that were a turning point for access in Britain took place at Edale at the weekend, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the country’s first national trail, the Pennine Way.

Mr Morris said: “It applies whether you are walking, cycling, horse-riding, skiing, birdwatching, botanising, star-gazing or doing whatever non-motorised activity appears to be appropriate.

“As long as you take responsibility for your own actions, respect the interests of other people, and care for the environment, you will eventually demolish the concept of trespass.”

He also proposed the production of an English version of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which had been in effect since the passing of the Scottish Land Reform Act in 2003.

The former director of Ramblers Scotland said: “We currently have the absurd situation where in Scotland, I can walk down the edge of a field, along a tramline made by a tractor, or along the bare ground between vegetable crops, and know that I am complying with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and have the statutory right to do so.

“Suppose, however, that halfway across the field I cross the border into England. Suddenly many will claim that the landowner can accuse me of being a ‘trespasser’, order me to leave the field and use so-called ‘reasonable force’ to compel me to do so.

“How is it,” he said, “that I am apparently doing no damage to the crop north of the border but appear to be creating havoc with the same crop in the same field when I step into England.”

Other speakers were Chris Townsend, the British Mountaineering Council’s first-ever hillwalking ambassador; Chris Sainty, chairman of the Pennine Way Association, who reflected on the Pennine Way from its origins to its inception, and Ann Beedham, Sheffield author and illustrator, who gave an illustrated talk on walking, and trespassing in the Peak in the 1920s, based on the words and photographs of George Willis Marshall.

An open forum on future access provision and the Scottish model was led by Chris Townsend, Dave Morris and Chris Sainty, before young members of Sheffield’s Woodcraft Folk, led by Kat Budd, closed proceedings with the traditional singing of Ewan MacColl’s Manchester Rambler

Plans are already being formulated for next year’s event to be held in Hayfield, the starting point of the Mass Trespass.

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