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Last updated:18 June 2015

Kinder Scout mass trespass

Since 1884 attempts had been made for an Access to Mountains Bill in Parliament to give the public the unrestricted right to walk on uncultivated moorland.  Such land was not just forbidden territory, it was guarded by gamekeepers armed with sticks.

In 1932 the Manchester area committee of the British Workers' Sports Federation decided on a mass trespass on Kinder Scout in the Peak District, 'because its rugged tops could be seen from many points on the public footpaths and roads around' to quote organiser Benny Rothman. On 24 April a group of ramblers several hundred strong set off from Hayfield, and as they headed towards the top of Kinder Scout came face-to-face with the Duke of Devonshire's gamekeepers. One keeper was slightly hurt in the ensuing scuffle.

At the top the ramblers were greeted by a group of Sheffield-based trespassers who had set off  from Edale.  After exchanging congratulations, the two groups proudly marched back the way they had come.  As they returned to Hayfield, Benny Rothmand and five other ramblers were arrested.  They pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful assembly and breach of the peace, and were tried at Derby Assizes - 60 miles from their homes.

Five of the six were found guilty and were jailed for between two and six months.  This unleashed a huge wave of public sympathy, and large protest rallies were held in the ramblers' support.  It was to be another 17 years however before the passage of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act by the post-war Labour Government.
 

Read more about Benny Rothman and the mass trespass here.

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