Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Scot Crags

Furthering the Right to Roam

Today is the anniversary of the Mass Trespass of 1932, when four to five hundred ramblers climbed Kinder Scout in the Peak District in defiance of the restrictions on access at the time‌1Wikipedia Contributors. “Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Mar. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_trespass_of_Kinder_Scout. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.. Their aim was to establish a public right of access onto the moors that were privately owned for grouse shooting. The movement eventually led to the creation of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, establishing Public Rights of Way and creating our National Parks2Wikipedia Contributors. “National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Aug. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Parks_and_Access_to_the_Countryside_Act_1949. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.. The culmination can be said to be the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 which gave people ‘the right to roam’ on mapped access land3Wikipedia Contributors. “Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countryside_and_Rights_of_Way_Act_2000. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021..

In 1932, as is now, trespass was not a criminal offence, but six men were detained by the police and some received jail sentences of two to six months for offences relating to violence against the gamekeepers, although the violence had been initiated by the keepers themselves, heavies brought in for the day‌4“Mass trespass on Kinder Scout – Battle with keepers – Police detain six men”. The Guardian book of Mountains. Edited by Richard Nelsson. Page 75. Guardian Books. 2007. ISBN: 978-0-85265-079-0..

Although it’s now dropped off the headlines by sleaze and European Super Leagues, the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 is still making its way through Parliament and, if enacted, will (inter alia) make make trespass a criminal offence‌5Home Office. “Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021: Protest Powers Factsheet.” GOV.UK, GOV.UK, 10 Mar. 2021, www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-factsheets/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-protest-powers-factsheet. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.. To put it bluntly we could be liable for prosecution, leading to a criminal record if convicted, for knowingly walking off a Right of Way (or Open access Land).

Without doubt, this pandemic has shown that there is a public health need for more access to the countryside6“Covid-19 Has Highlighted the Inadequate, and Unequal, Access to High Quality Green Spaces – the BMJ.” The BMJ, 3 July 2020, blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/07/03/covid-19-has-highlighted-the-inadequate-and-unequal-access-to-high-quality-green-spaces/. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.. More access will in addition ease the demand at the honey pots.

So the ghost of the 1932 Mass Trespass continues with the Right to Roam campaign which aims to gain more access to the countryside7“All Videos.” Right to Roam, 2021, www.righttoroam.org.uk/. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.. They petitioned the Prime Minister in November 2020, signed by over 100 authors, actors, musicians and artists, urging him to extend the CROW Act to cover woodlands, rivers and green belt land, and to increase our collective right to roam8“LETTER to PM | Right to Roam.” Right to Roam, 2021, www.righttoroam.org.uk/letter. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.. But as far as I know this seems to be still in his in-tray.

It would have been nice to climb Kinder Scout today, but alas I only got as far as Scot Crags in Scugdale. This popular climbing venue is perhaps more familiarly known as Barker’s Crags.






2 responses to “Furthering the Right to Roam”

  1. Peter Astle avatar
    Peter Astle

    Yes, more access is most desirable and somewhere to stop when you get to where you want to be would be lovely too!
    So 10 out of 10 to Redcar & Cleveland Council for their proposal (which they may well have implemented by now, I don’t know) to close off Cowbar Lane Car Park to all but blue badge holders and local residents because it gets busy and some people have left a mess there. If we extrapolate that argument then we should close every car park nationwide!

  2. Reece avatar

    Making trespass a criminal offence seems like a brilliant way to shield landowners from any scrutiny of what takes place on their land as long as it happens away from a right of way. Pollution of rivers, various habitat destruction, illegal traps, killing of protected species, etc. Not just breaches of the law either, it would affect people campaigning against currently legal (but controversial) practices. I wonder if that’s the real intention behind that proposal.

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