A selection from the Derbyshire Peak District, Mid and North Wales, Snowdonia.
Following the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries, many of the highest and wildest areas of moorland and mountains – previously common land open to all – ramblers without a permit were often forcibly evicted. Engaging in a spot of direct action up on Kinder Scout in 1932, 400 walkers from Sheffield and Manchester met a line of some 30 keepers and scuffles resulted. Six were arrested and charged with public order offences. At trial, Benny Rothman said: “We ramblers, after a hard week’s work in smoky towns and cities, go out rambling for relaxation, a breath of fresh air, a little sunshine. But we find when we go out that the finest rambling country is closed to us, just because certain individuals wish to shoot for about ten days a year.”
A century-old campaign for the cherished “freedom to roam” across mountain and moorland was reached with the long awaited passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act in December 2000. Important to me, since I can now walk in the landscape by right, rather than permission. More than twenty years since the act was past, but can still only access 8% of England.