Today 24 April marks the 92nd anniversary of a landmark battle in outdoor access history – Kinder Scout.  On that day in 1932, a group of around 500 people headed up to trespass on Kinder Scout demanding their right of access.  It’s lauded as a landmark event, and rightly so, but it is one of many occasions when the public have banded together to fight for their rights, sometimes with many more people in attendance.

In 1906 nearly 2,000 people led by the Wendover Town Crier marched up Coombe Hill in Buckinghamshire to protest new fencing restricting their access.  Winter Hill near Bolton saw over 10,000 people marching to reclaim a blocked right of way in 1896. This was five years after the residents of Braemar, up in arms about access to the Queen’s Drive being blocked, marched behind an Oompah Band to rip down and burn the fence. In 1887, 2,000 people marched on Latrigg near Keswick protesting the closure of paths to the top. Earlier still, in 1858, incensed Dunblane residents paid a stone mason to demolish the wall across the Darn Road by night that the neighbouring landowner had paid the mason to build by day.

Kinder Scout differed in that scuffles led to the police arresting some of the ringleaders and the courts putting them in jail, but even this was not unique. In 1822, Thomas Harvey walled off a section of the path on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow. An angry mob started to tear down one of the walls before the Enniskillen Dragoons arrived to stop them.  Several of those people ended up in jail too!

What is unique about Kinder Scout is that it is within living memory. It and all these other demonstrations show the power of the people to affect change. This year, over 500 people gathered to demonstrate against forthcoming charges to access the previously free (for 336 years) Cirencester Park.

You have an important part to play in protecting your right of access.  But you don’t need to organise or even attend a demonstration.  Just keep an eye on your local paths for attempts to block them and report problems to your local authority access team. Keep an eye on local planning applications too to make sure that they don’t propose something that will accidentally reduce local access opportunities and, if they do, be sure to object to them.

You have the power to uphold the publics’ hard won rights of access.

Photo: Looking down from the west side of Kinder Scout towards Kinder Reservoir – Neil Birch