Our history

We’ve been removing the barriers to walking since 1835

Early barriers to walking 

In the 19th century walking for pleasure grew in popularity with city dwellers heading into the open countryside to get away from pollution and the stresses of daily life.  At the same time, land that had been common land was becoming privately owned thanks to the Enclosure Movement.  Often this led to walls, fences or hedges being put up.  These barriers prevented walkers accessing the places where they loved to walk.  In response, walking clubs and groups were formed to campaign for walkers’ rights. 

Black and white photo of people seated upon a hill, with Behold Ye Ramblers printed on the sole of their shoes

The historic Kinder Scout Trespass 

In 1931 six regional groups representing walkers from all over Britain joined to create the National Council of Ramblers Federations.  Their aim was to create a national body to represent walkers’ rights.  Then on 24th April 1932, 400 walkers from Manchester and Sheffield took part in the Kinder Scout Trespass a landmark moment in the campaign. 

They clashed with gamekeepers sent by local landowners to keep people off their land. The clashes were violent and several of the ramblers were arrested and imprisoned, but over the following days and weeks much larger trespasses were held and public opinion started to sway in the trespassers’ favour. 

The Kinder Scout trespass was the start of a movement that saw the establishment of National Parks, National Trails and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. 


Creation of the Ramblers Association 

On 1 January 1935 the Ramblers Association was officially created.  In 1938 our first office opened in Liverpool and, in 1945, Tom Stephenson became secretary and our first full-time employee.  Over the years the organisation has grown and evolved.  Formally, we are still the Ramblers’ Association, but today we are known as the Ramblers. 

A large group of people upon a hill
Celebrating 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament was passed.

Together, we achieve much more 

Today we have a small staff team but we achieve big things thanks to people who believe in our cause, like our members, volunteers, campaigners, funders and partners. Together, we’ve already achieved significant success and we have ambitious plans for the future. 


The Ramblers' successes  

Since 1935 we’ve been doing everything we can to make sure everyone everywhere can enjoy nature on foot.  We fought to establish National Parks and National Trails – and we won. And we successfully campaigned for everyone to enjoy Britain's coastline on foot. We've helped open up vast swathes of the British countryside which was previously out of bounds, and we made sure laws were amended and added to keep it that way. 

Path maintenance volunteers posing for the camera

What we do

The Ramblers open the way for everyone to enjoy the simple pleasures of walking. And we step up to protect the places we all love to wander.

A group of people crossing a grassy field

How we are organised

The Ramblers is governed by a board of trustees and is made up of local groups and regional areas across Great Britain.