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Mass trespass on Kinder Scout in the Peak District Photo courtesy of Peak District National Park Authority

1932 mass trespass

One of the most well-known events in the National Parks’ story is the mass trespass on Kinder Scout. This moorland plateau is the highest point in the Peak District.

By the 1930s more and more people were seeking an escape from towns and cities and there was growing conflict with landowners.

A Sunday walk with a difference

On the morning of Sunday 24 April 1932, about 400 mainly politically motivated walkers set off from Hayfield on the western side of Kinder and exercised what they saw as their right to walk unhindered on open moorland.

They were met by a line of gamekeepers employed by local landowners and scuffles broke out. At Ashop Head the Hayfield ramblers were joined by others who had hiked over from Sheffield and a victory meeting took place. Then the trespassers marched back to Hayfield where police arrested five. They were charged with public order offences such as riotous assembly.

Trial and sentencing

At their trial at Derby Assizes a few months later, four of the five young defendants received prison sentences of between two and six months. The severity of those sentences had the effect of uniting the ramblers’ cause.

Catalyst for access to the countryside

The Kinder mass trespass acted as an important catalyst to the whole national parks and access to the countryside campaign. At the end of the Second World War, the Labour government set up committees to examine long term land use and ‘nature preservation’ became part of the post-war reconstruction effort.

It was thanks to such pre-war campaigns that there became an emphasis on making countryside available for recreation for all, not just nature conservation.