The Ramblers’ Association and the "Right to Roam”
In 1884 James Bryce MP introduced the first bill to Parliament seeking to deliver a 'right to roam' on open countryside in England. The bill was reintroduced every year until 1914 and failed each time. Then in 1932 the Kinder Scout mass trespass caused a national outcry and the campaign for a right to roam on open countryside was placed firmly in the public eye.
Years of hard campaigning by the Ramblers' and others followed the Kinder trespass. The Ramblers' opposed the Access to Mountains Act 1939 which made trespass a criminal offence, fortunately later repealed, and lobbied for the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which for the first time defined open country. Unfortunately, it became clear over the years that the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act could not provide access to open countryside on anything like the scale which campaigners hoped.
In 1985 the Ramblers' Association launched the Forbidden Britain campaign, with the aim of securing a statutory right of access to open countryside. Snailsden Moor in the Peak District was the venue for the first annual Forbidden Britain Day. By 1991 the event was seeing increasing mass trespasses on a scale not seen since the 1930s. Following on from the success of the Forbidden Britain campaign the Ramblers' Association sought a commitment from Government to provide legislation for a right to roam . This commitment would eventually appear in the Labour Party's 1997 general election manifesto.
Finally, after decades of campaigning, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW) - which provides a right to walk on mountains, moorland, heath down and registered common land - became law on 30 November 2000 and was fully implemented across England on 31st of October 2005. The RA are currently campaigning for a legal right of access to all coastal land in England and will continue working to secure and protect the public rights to walk on open countryside.
If you value your right to walk freely in open countryside, across moorland, heath and downland, then show your support to the organisation who made it all possible. As a charity, we rely solely on member subscriptions to fund our important work. Help us campaign for walkers’ rights to the coast by becoming a member - join today.