With the country gradually opening up there will be plenty of people looking for places to stay in Castleton, but this month provides some particularly special reasons to visit and head for the hills.
April 17th 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Peak District, Britain’s first national park. While the Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor followed that same year, it was appropriate that the Peak should lead the way.
The reason for this lies in another event with its anniversary this month. On April 24th 1932, the infamous Kinder Trespass occurred, a protest aimed at securing more access to the hills for the general public.
It was organised by the British Workers Sports Association, with Manchester branch leader Benny Rothman bringing a group of 400 ramblers up from Hayfield. They made their way up the Snake Path – a public right of way since 1897 – into William Clough above Kinder Reservoir, but then stepped onto the privately-owned moorland, where public access was forbidden.
There, they were met by a group of gamekeepers assembled to try to stop the group. A scuffle ensued, a gamekeeper suffered a broken leg, and police subsequently arrested several trespassers, including Rothman, who were jailed for ‘riotous assembly’.
However, the incident galvanised the access movement and many believe this helped pave the way for more access to the countryside, with national parks being part of this solution. When legislation was passed to create them in 1949, it had all-party support.
Walkers setting out from Castleton can access Kinder via Rushup Edge and Brown Knoll, joining the Pennine Way path across the top. The Manchester group never reached the plateau, but a small group of trespassers from Sheffield did, crossing it to join their fellows at the top of William Clough.
Within a year of the national park being formed, agreements were reached to turn Kinder Scout into access land. Indeed, the Peak District contained 60 per cent of the access land in England before the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
So if you come to walk on these moors this month, be sure not to take it for granted. In a different April many years ago, some people literally fought for the right.