One of my earliest memories of music was a cassette tape owned by my parents by a northern folk band called The Houghton Weavers. Amongst the songs on that tape of slightly lightweight twinkling banjo and acoustic guitar, overlaid by vocals in a thick Lancashire accent, were such tracks as Sit Thi Deawn, My Brother Sylveste, All Around My Hat and Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs.
Also on that cassette, somewhere on side A, was a little song known as The Manchester Rambler; it’s evocative chorus of “I’m a rambler, I’m a rambler from Manchester way” sung in an “all together now!” way.
It wasn’t until university that I discovered that the song was actually by folk legend Ewan MacColl. And it would be some more that I discovered how the song was inspired by.
The Kinder Mass Trespass; a defining moment. A day in 1932 when the people headed to hills they were not allowed to roam on; the day when they took on the landowners and the gamekeepers and headed up Kinder. The Occupy movement of their day in some ways.
Of the 400-odd people headed to the hills, one was a certain Ewan MacColl. A song was written, but most importantly of all, the cause of all ramblers started to be heard after that day.
It took some time but things started changing. 17 years later the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act passed through parliament, and the steps were made to creating the National Parks in England and Wales. Funnily enough the first one to be created was the Peak District, and the very first official long distance walking route set off on its journey nearby. There can be few walkers of the Pennine Way who don’t delight in walking over Kinder Scout.
80 years on, some things haven’t changed much. Despite Ewan’s lyrics proclaiming that “no man has the right to own mountains”, some people still do. But thanks to the work of those pioneers who helped raise the course, now we can walk over them and enjoy them too. And I for one am eternally grateful.
There’s an entire website dedicated to the Kinder Trespass which includes details of the 14 mile Trespass Trail. Meanwhile over on the Guardian website you can find it’s report on the Mass Trespass which is a fascinating read. Meanwhile the Ramblers have created an interactive map showing some of the places walkers still can’t go