What does the future hold for our National Parks? BMC Peak Access Rep Henry Folkard gets out his crystal ball.
How many BMC members will be reading Summit in 75 years time? Given increases in longevity this isn’t as silly a question as you may first think - a fair few of today’s younger climbers will surely go on well into their 90’s. What will the world be like then? What will the access issues of 2082 be? Will we still have National Parks?
Had it not been for something that happened 75 years ago the National Parks probably wouldn’t even be here to start with. For this year is the diamond anniversary of the Kinder Mass Trespass, led by the redoubtable Benny Rothman. This, and similar events on the east side of the Pennines, culminated in the Act of 1949 which gave us National Parks. There was a real pride then in a national achievement, a pride in our heritage and the splendour of the landscape. Pride in the thought that we could cherish National Parks and hand them on to future generations.
Has all this good intention gone? Perhaps not, there are still redoubtable groups kicking about like the Sheffield Campaign for Access to the Moors, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the National Trust. What a proud record there: acquisition of Longshaw in 1931, Kinder in 1982 and Alport Valley in 2003. All now inalienable, part of our heritage forever. But has it become too easy to take it all for granted?
It seems to me that there’s a growing feeling that it’s up to them to look after it for my benefit. Let rip with 4x4’s, trial bikes, scenic flights, dropping litter - so what, they will repair the damage. And walkers and climbers can’t be too smug either, what with careless parking and vigorous brushing. Tear off all the vegetation, it’s only flowers after all, clean rock is what it’s all about. It’s my bit of fun, so sod everyone else.
If people who enjoy the open country don’t look after it then no one else can. Many landholdings are now broken up. National Parks are starved of cash by government, footfall hardly adequate to fund the National Trust - and when did you last contribute? All this to be replaced by community trusts of special interest groups intent on their thing, not yours. I imagine that if us users want to maintain what we have, then one way or another we’ll have to do more towards funding its upkeep - see if I’m right in 75 years.
In the meantime perhaps we’ll see you in New Mills on the 21st April for walks in the morning and beers in the evening. See the events page of this issue for full details. You may even get a cup of tea in the cell where Benny was imprisoned. And what did he say, “you can never take access for granted.” One thing’s for sure, the BMC doesn’t.
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