The Kinder Scout mass trespass of 1932
In 1932, a mass public trespass took place on Kinder Scout – a landmark protest in improving access to the countryside.
A landmark protest on the route to improving walkers’ access rights
On Sunday 24 April 1932, a mass public trespass took place on Kinder Scout, the highest point on land now known as the Peak District. It was a landmark protest on the route to improving access to the countryside for all.
The Ramblers were founded soon after and we've been campaigning for access rights ever since.
The call to trespass
This mass trespass was an iconic event in the battle to regain access to the countryside. During the 18th and 19th centuries under the Enclosure Acts, landowners had restricted access to what was previously common land, where anyone could graze their sheep or enjoy a walk.
By the 1930s Kinder Scout and much of the surrounding moorland was owned by the Duke of Devonshire. It was kept for grouse-shooting and patrolled by gamekeepers. The workers of northern England were becoming frustrated at being forbidden access to enjoy walking in the countryside. A typed notice began circulating, calling on people to join “a Ramblers’ Rally on Kinder”.
400 activists heeded the call and marched up Kinder Scout to protest.
The birth of a movement
Landowners sent in gamekeepers to remove the trespassers. After violent clashes several of the ramblers were arrested and jailed. Defending his action in court, one of the protestors, 21 year old Benny Rothman said
During the following weeks there was outcry at the sentences which sparked much larger trespasses. Public opinion started to sway in favour of the trespassers. This public outcry birthed the access movement that saw the founding of the Ramblers (Association) in 1935. Ever since then we have achieved many wins as Britain’s walking charity.
From 1935 to today, the Ramblers have campaigned tirelessly for walkers’ rights. In the same spirit as those who led the way at Kinder Scout we want to ensure everyone, everywhere can access the countryside and benefit from the joys of walking in nature.
We've taken great strides and won many victories on access rights over the years, including:
The establishment of National Parks and National Trails, beginning – fittingly – with the Peak District in 1951
Gaining access to millions of acres of land in England and Wales
Gaining Scottish access rights
The creation of coastal paths
The fight for access continues
We believe the joys of walking belong to everyone and we continue to fight for the right for everyone to be able to enjoy walking in the countryside.
As we continue to celebrate the impact and legacy of the Kinder Scout Trespass, access remains limited and unequal and there are many challenges we face today in protecting and expanding access rights to our countryside.
Walking is a simple pleasure that should be open to everyone, so we campaign to remove barriers to walking and we protect the places we love to wander.