#At the Kinder 81 celebration in 2013, access campaigner Kate Ashbrook spoke about some of the present day threats to access, and why campaigning needs to continue.
"I talked of the threats posed by the current regime to our access and our countryside, a government driven by development dogma which is dismantling the planning system piece by piece. I spoke of the threats to green spaces and village greens; national parks (despite the brilliant efforts of the Campaign for National Parks, the Growth and Infrastructure Act undermines the duty of public bodies to have regard to national park purposes: the thin end of the wedge); and national trails. Local authority budget cuts mean less attention to our public paths and access land, while the Anti-social Behaviour Bill threatens to make trespass a criminal offence by creating public spaces protection orders (in fact exclusion orders).
Trespassers’ torch It’s a dismal list, but just as the postwar campaigners were motivated by the tough times, so too should we rise to the occasion and pick up the Kinder trespassers’ torch.Threats bring opportunities. Walking is inexpensive and healthy, it’s good for the economy, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in 2014 should mean more money for access (but let’s make it permanent not permissive access which can be withdrawn at any time); devolution in Wales allows an opportunity to pilot good ideas, and there’s to be an Environment Bill whereby this could be done.
Our worst enemy is not obesity but apathy. If we don’t swim against the current we shall just drift downsteam. Benny Rothman and his colleagues knew all about that. So I made a call for renewed campaigning, reporting path problems, lobbying councillors and MPs to get across the huge benefit of outdoor activities for health and the economy; registering village greens where the land is not yet threatened with development; working together to get a better deal for walkers, riders and cyclists, and learning from the Kinder trespassers’ legacy.
‘The mountains would endure to feed those roots of human nature which are starved in cities and even among cornfields,’ wrote Jacquetta Hawkes in A Land (1951). Long may those mountains endure, along with our freedom to enjoy them".
#CURRENT GREEN BELT ISSUE IN HAYFIELD
This correspondence has recently been sent to us by the recently formed Hayfield Green Belt Action Group.
"The historic landmarks of Hayfield are steeped in stories. Stories of love, laughter, conflict and loss.
Twenty Trees; Snake Path; Bowden Bridge; The Old Quarry; The Kissing Gate; The Cricket Ground; Those four clock faces of St Mathew’s with its battlemented roof top and The Old Toll House, all huddled in safety of Hayfield’s cosy green belted cloak.
If these landmarks could speak, they would no doubt tell you about a brave young man, Ben Rothman, who driven by passionate moral conviction, led a four-hundred strong crowd up Kinder Road, passing a lush green field en-route to the old Quarry at Bowden Bridge, where he addressed his followers with a stratagem to earn the right to roam.
Their legacy on our landscape remains.Today these landmarks would be voicing "Vandalism!, because that same lush green field has recently been earmarked by High Peak Borough Council as a potential site for a housing
development.The Council propose the removal of its Green Belt Status claiming it does not fulfil Green Belt purposes. The field, known as P11, adjoins Hayfield’s Conservation Area close to the Peak District
National Park, is highly visible from various locations around Hayfield including the historic Snake Path and the iconic Twenty Trees.
Hayfield residents are stunned by the proposal that did not appear in HPBC’s original plan, but is an eleventh hour Additional Consultation. Only a handful of residents were informed about these proposed changes when they received a generalised letter between Christmas and New Year.
Now the entire village is up in arms with many complaining about the indecorous speed in which the Planners are driving the consultation period. High Peak Borough Council give a deadline of 5pm on Monday 10th February for Consultees to place their Objections, via letter, email or through
HPBC’s on-line Portal.
• Online: http://highpeak-consult.objective.co.uk/portal
• By email: LDF@highpeak.gov.uk
• By post: Regeneration, High Peak Borough Council, Town Hall, Buxton, Derbyshire,
Residents have also set up a website www.lovehayfield.co.uk and a facebook site".
#DON'T LOSE YOUR WAY Campaign
14 years ago we won the right to roam over mountains and moor, over heathland and downland. When I open an OS map and see this right symbolised by swathes of yellow, I feel proud to be a Rambler and of all we’ve achieved together.
But included in that law was a catch. It said that in 2026, footpaths that aren’t on the map will be left off it. Forever.
We’re now halfway to 2026. We know that over 4,000 paths are still waiting to be added to the map and many more remain undiscovered. If a path’s not on the map it can be closed off, built on, gone forever.
These are historic footpaths. Paths that have been walked by our ancestors, who used them to go to market, walk to church, visit their relatives. These footpaths are part of our heritage but unless things change, they won’t have a future.
It gets worse. It’s really hard to get a path put on the map. It can take over 20 years, and involves lots of to-ing and fro-ing between landowners, the council, the Government and the people who use the path. We just don’t have that time left.
Working with landowners and councils, we’ve come up with ways to make it easier to put paths on the map. So we don’t have to wait years and years for a path to be protected.
MPs are discussing our plans today. I’ll let you know how it goes, and how you can help as the political debate continues.
Together, we can ensure our historic footpaths have a future.
Director of Campaigns
PS – you can find out more about the plans and our Don’t Lose Your Way campaign on our website www.ramblers.org.uk/dontloseyourway