Open country, green spaces and public paths are not a luxury but a vital need, claimed Kate Ashbrook at the annual Spirit of Kinder Day.
The annual event to mark the 1932 Kinder Scout Mass Trespass attracted 200 people to Sheffield Town Hall last Saturday.
The president of the Ramblers and general secretary of the Open Spaces Society said: “The governments of England and Wales are attacking our green spaces, making it almost impossible for local people to register them as town or village greens to secure their rights to enjoy them. ”
Speaking to an audience of 200 at Sheffield Town Hall, she added: “The cuts in local authority funding and the obsession with development mean that budgets for maintaining, creating and recording public paths have been slashed. The national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty have to make do with ever-shrinking funds to protect our top landscapes.
“It’s time that the government recognised that these places contribute massively to our health and well-being, as well as bringing income to the rural economy. We are not a fringe group, we are mainstream. We change lives and we save lives.”
Kate added: “We must reignite the campaigning zeal of the Kinder trespassers. Times are tough for countryside campaigners, but the spirit of Kinder will carry us through. The Kinder trespassers and those before them changed the world. We can too, as we follow in their footsteps.”
Other speakers included John Mothersole, chief executive of Sheffield City Council, who explained that a third of the city was within the Peak District National Park, and half of its area was moorland. “So the spirit of Sheffield and the spirit of Kinder is very much the same thing. The trespass was a national scene-changer, and a lot of it started in Sheffield.”
And he echoed Kate’s view that for Sheffield, in its role as “the city of outdoor adventure”, meant both income for the city and jobs for its citizens. “We are not re-kindling the flame of the trespass here today – it is still alive and never went out in Sheffield.”
Two teenage members of the Sheffield Woodcraft Folk, Felix James and Angus Bruce, and their leader Kat Budd read first-hand accounts of the “forgotten” Abbey Brook trespass in which 200 members took part five months after the more publicised Kinder Scout trespass in 1932.
Other speakers included archaeologist Bill Bevan, who described Mesolithic hunters’ “killing grounds” on the watershed between William Clough (the 1932 trespass route onto Kinder Scout) and River Ashop, where large collections of flints have been found. Annabelle Kennedy of the Sheffield Wildlife Trust, outlined the pioneering work of the Sheffield Moors Partnership, which she described as “the UK’s leading model” on the way uplands should be managed in the future.
The BMC were present at the event with a display. Leading BMC Peak District access rep Henry Folkard was quoted in Annabelle Kennedy's speech, saying: "[The Sheffield moors] give the city its lungs, its people room for outdoor recreation, its wildlife and flora their habitat, its landscape its defining features. And it is those same people, individually and through organisations, whose voluntary effort does much to care for the Moors. These same stakeholders may increasingly hold the key to their upkeep, and realisation of a sustainable future."
There were also displays by the Ramblers; the Sheffield Campaign for Access to Moorland; the National Trust; the Kinder Visitor Centre Group and the Sheffield Moors Partnership.
The event was rounded off by the traditional singing of Ewan MacColl’s Manchester Rambler, led by Neil Schofield.