In May 2023 Tracks and Trails were pleased to be a part of The Peak District WALX Festival. With over 20 walks and workshops daily over a period of three days with 170 participants from all over the UK. Local guides alongside the WALX own team of experienced leaders were needed so it seemed an obvious choice to be a part of this event. Sam Armstrong of WALX Derwent and Dales asked me to deliver the Mass Trespass walk over Kinder from Hayfield. As this is my back garden when in the UK I was delighted to help out. The bookings came in thick and fast for the this historic walk and the whole weekend was a huge success.
Our walk began at one of the meeting points of the trespassers, Bowden Bridge quarry where you'll find a plaque marking this historic event. With a fit keen group of walkers both local and from across the UK we set off walking in the foot steps of the great 'mass trespass'.
We skirted around the reservoir where on a clear day (which we had most of the time), you can see the edge of the Kinder Plateau our objective for our walk. At the end of the reservoir, at William Clough is where the steady but achievable uphill section begins.
Sunshine & Smiles on William Clough bridge
At Sandy Hayes we joined a section of the Pennine Way, the first National Trail in England and is one of the UK’s most famous long-distance walks. Opened on 24th April 1965, it paved the way for public access to some of England’s wildest landscapes. It stretches for 268 miles (431 km) across England’s wild northern uplands following England’s rocky spine starting from Edale in the Peak District through the Yorkshire Dales, and across the North Pennines over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland to the Cheviot Hills, ending in the Scottish Borders in Kirk Yetholm!
The route around the plateau is quite often windy so we had lunch part 1 before joining the skyline path which offers superb views of the High Peak of Derbyshire, Manchester and mountains of Snowdonia in the far distance.
Reaching the Kinder plateau
Once up on the perimeter rim our circular route is interesting all the way. Superb views passing rock sculptures crafted by the wind, a birds eye view of the beautiful mermaid pool perched on a mountain shelf, and then to Kinder Downfall waterfall (often referred to as the 'up fall' due to the constant wind) which is where we had lunch part 2! It was then on and over the second highest peak in the area, a breezy Kinder Low trig point 633 m/1,784 ft.
Kinder Low Trig Point
Our descent, all on good paths, passed Edale Rocks to meet a bridleway at the boundary stone, Edale cross. The cross, made from local gritstone and quite coarsely carved, is believed to be medieval and was probably erected by the Cistercian monks in 1157. We soon left the open land to meet fields of grazing cattle slowly as we descended through farms back to Hayfield to complete this rewarding circular walk.
Walk type: Medium circular walk
Distance: 7.5 miles/12 km
Walk time: 4.5-5hours
Total ascent: 596 m/1,968 ft
Highest point: 633 m/1,784 ft
Walk highlights: Kinder Reservoir, William Clough, Kinder Downfall, Kinder Low trig point, Edale Cross
What was the Kinder Mass Trespass?
On 24th April, 1932, hundreds of men and women defied the law to walk over hills and moorland to the plateau of Kinder Scout, Derbyshire, in what would become the Peak District National Park.
The Manchester ramblers resolved to organise this well-publicised Mass Trespass onto Kinder Scout. Kinder, the highest point in the Peak District at 2,088ft/636m, was owned by the Duke of Devonshire and walkers were forbidden as access was restricted ti gamekeepers. The Trail took in most of the important locations including the Kinder Downfall.
The protest was led by 20-year-old Benny Rothman, Lancashire secretary of the British Workers’ Sports Federation (BWSF), which organised walks and cycling trips for young workers from Manchester and surrounding mill towns.
The plan was for ramblers from Manchester to meet up with groups from other places - including Sheffield - at the Kinder plateau. Estimates vary of the numbers taking part but at the time the Manchester Guardian estimated 400 people to have been involved.
The BWSF had called for a rally in the village of Hayfield on 24th April - but this was a diversion, drawing in one third of the Derbyshire police force, which expected Communist unrest. Meanwhile, trespassers met at Bowden Bridge quarry, with Rothman addressing hundreds of ramblers before they set off.
At William Clough, trespassers were confronted by gamekeepers and scuffles broke out. A gamekeeper was injured. The trespassers broke through, running through prohibited land to Kinder plateau and meeting up with ramblers from Sheffield from the 'other side'. Trespassers agreed to walk back to Hayfield ‘with heads held high’ – but police were still there, waiting to make arrests.
The arrest of six young men – and subsequent imprisonment of five – unleashed a wave of sympathy for the ramblers and fuelled the ‘right to roam’ movement paving the way for the access rights we now have to the UK mountains and moorlands.
On the weekend of April 21-22, 2007, walkers from all over Britain congregated at the former mill town of New Mills to celebrate the 75th anniversary of that iconic and pivotal event.
Bowden Bridge Quarry & memorial plaque - the start of the 1932 Mass Trespass
What WAs the 'right to roam' movement?
In the UK for over a century there was a growing movement for the right of all people to have access to the countryside. In 1884 - the first freedom to roam bill is introduced to Parliament by the MP James Bryce. The bill fails – but the campaign has started.
In the early 20th century there was a growing appreciation of the great outdoors and the health benefits of exercise in the countryside, especially by people working in industrialised towns and cities. But conflicts emerge between people demanding greater access to the countryside and landowners.
By 1931 a government inquiry recommends the creation of a ‘national park authority’ to select areas for designation as national parks. No action is taken and discontent grows. In 1932 the Kinder Mass Trespass takes place and harsh punishment of leader Benny Rothman and his associates unleashes a huge wave of public sympathy and fuels the 'right to roam' cause.
In 1936 a voluntary sector Standing Committee on National Parks (SCNP) is formed, arguing the case for national parks and urging the government to act. It is the result of groups of leisure enthusiasts and nature conservationists coming together to lobby the government for measures to protect – and allow access to – the countryside for the benefit of the nation. Parties include the Ramblers Association, the Youth Hostels Association, the Council for the Preservation for Rural England and the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales.
In 1945 a White Paper on National Parks is produced as part of the UK’s post-war reconstruction. A committee is set up under Sir Arthur Hobhouse to prepare for national park legislation while campaigners keep up public pressure.
1949 is a landmark year as the government passes the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, paving the way for the creation of national parks. Lewis Silkin, Minister for Town and Country Planning, describes it as ‘…the most exciting Act of the post-war Parliament.”
Then on 17th April 1951 the Peak District becomes the UK’s first national park. There are 15 National Parks in the UK – 10 in England which cover 10% of the land area, three in Wales (covering 20% of the land area) and two in Scotland (7.3%). National Parks are large areas of land that are protected by law for the benefit of the nation.
Then in 2000 the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW Act ) was created, an act giving a public right of access to land mapped as 'open country' (mountain, moor, heath and down) or registered common land. These areas are known as 'open access land'.
In the Peak District for example, the public has a right of access to about 500 sq km of Access Land in the National Park. This includes moors, heaths, commons, unimproved hills and dale sides and land above 600m. Here you can wander at will without keeping to public paths.
Thank you to all of the participants that joined me on this iconic walk and for your kinds words.
“Lots of history and info on Kinder walk”
“I loved the fact I was able to challenge myself each day and feel safe with an experienced guide”
“Stunning views and knowledge of the local area”
“This walk is on my home territory but I’ve never done it, absolutely loved it”
“Challenging and yet safe”
Kinder Reservoir and Kinder Low in the background
Tracks and Trails and WALX Derwent & Dales
I met Samantha Armstrong in 2009 whilst teaching on a navigation training weekend, little did we know that this meeting would lead to many amazing joint walking adventures in Europe. Sam had recently set up her own walking business in the UK I was keen to take her members abroad. Tracks and Trails were keen to make this partnership and we have never looked back. Over 14 years we’ve worked together on trips to France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Spain including Mallorca and now also on winter trips.
Sam Armstrong - founder of WALX Derwent and Dales/Peak District WALX Festival