Celebrating 70 Years of National Parks and a pledge for the future

Walkers in the Peak District at the National Parks 70th anniversary celebrations

Today (22 March), the Ramblers has signed a pledge to protect National Parks for future generations and make access to them easier for everyone, at a special day of celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Act of Parliament establishing them.

The pledge was signed by five of the original campaigning organisations – the Ramblers, Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, The Open Spaces Society and YHA (England and Wales) – at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, based in the Peak District National Park. The Peak District was one of the first National Parks to be created in 1951, two years after the Act was passed. 

The creation of National Parks in 1949 is recognised as one of the seminal achievements of the environmental movement from the past 100 years. Today they attract around 100 million domestic and international visitors each year, contributing millions to the economy.

Yet, despite their status, National Parks face considerable threats from fracking, mining, quarrying, road building, military training and housing developments. Additionally, there is the further challenge to make these beautiful areas of countryside accessible for everyone.

Ramblers chief executive, Vanessa Griffiths, said: “Our National Parks and National Trails are an incredible asset created so all of us can enjoy the countryside. Today, more than ever, we are aware of the physical and mental health benefits of connecting to nature through walking. Yet for too many people, accessing National Parks is still difficult or impossible. We must continue working together to ensure that everyone, everywhere, whatever their background, is able to experience the benefits of these wonderful landscapes.”

The celebrations at Castleton saw walkers from in and around the Peak District, including local Ramblers groups, gather for special anniversary walks from Castleton around Mam Tor, and up to Hollins Cross, as well as an accessible cave tour in the Peak Cavern. 

Find out more about how we are working to protect our path network and access the countryside.

A stronger future for National Parks – 70th anniversary of the 1949 Act pledge 

We the undersigned pledge to continue campaigning for a stronger future for the National Parks of England so that they remain just as beautiful for current and future generations to enjoy. 

Our shared vision is that there will be more and better access to these landscapes so that they can benefit even more people, improving their health and wellbeing, as well as instilling a love for these special places. 

We will work together to encourage and enable partners, businesses and our networks across the country to play their part in creating thriving National Parks both for the people who live in them and those who visit. 

Seventy years after the National Parks and Access to the Countryside (1949) Act, the incredible National Parks face serious challenges including pressure from damaging major development, changes to land use practices, biodiversity loss and a lack of easy access for many. 

The campaigners who fought to establish the Parks came together to create one of the seminal environmental achievements of the past 100 years, which so many people love just as much today. To honour this legacy, we will work together to emulate this historic collaboration in the 21st Century for the greater good of the National Parks. 

We hope that, in decades to come, this pledge will mean that future generations are still experiencing the beauty and wonder of England’s magical National Parks.

Janette Ward, Chair, Campaign for National Parks
Crispin Truman, CEO, CPRE
Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary, Open Spaces Society
Vanessa Griffiths, Chief Executive, Ramblers
James Blake, CEO, YHA

John Edwards

National Parks and National Trails can be used as an excuse to decrease environmental and access protection in other areas.