Ewan MacColl was on the first Kinder Scout trespass and wrote this amazingly catchy tune inspired by the experience.
In April 1932 over 400 people participated in a mass trespass onto Kinder Scout, a bleak moorland plateau, the highest terrain in the Peak District.
The event was organised by the Manchester branch of the British Workers Sports Federation. They chose to notify the local press in advance, and as a result, Derbyshire Constabulary turned out in force. A smaller group of ramblers from Sheffield set off from Edale and met up with the main party on the Kinder edge path.
Five men from Manchester, including the leader, Benny Rothman, were subsequently jailed.
75 years later the trespass was described as: “the most successful direct action in British history” by Lord Roy Hattersley.
April 2012 saw the 80th Anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout celebrated by a week of walks, talks, and exhibitions, with a launch ceremony featuring Mike Harding, Stuart Maconie, and the leaders of major agencies involved in access to countryside. A new book was published, and commemorative posters are on sale.
The trespass is widely credited with leading to:
- legislation in 1949 to establish the National Parks.
- contributing to the development of the Pennine Way and many other long distance footpath.
- securing walkers’ rights over open country and common land in the C.R.O.W. Act of 2000.
The trespass was controversial at the time, being seen as a working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands for grouse shooting.
The Manchester Rambler by Ewan MacColl
I’ve been over Snowdon, I’ve slept upon Crowdon
I’ve camped by the Waynestones as well
I’ve sunbathed on Kinder, been burned to a cinder
And many more things I can tell
My rucksack has oft been me pillow the heather has oft been me bed
And sooner than part from the mountains,
I think I would rather be dead
I’m a rambler, I’m a rambler from Manchester way
I get all me pleasure the hard moorland way
I may be a wageslave on Monday but I have my freedom on Sunday
The day was just ending and I was descending
Down Grinesbrook just by Upper Tor
When a voice cried “Hey you” in the way keepers do.
He’d the worst face that ever I saw
The things that he said were unpleasant, in the teeth of his fury I said
“Sooner than part from the mountains, I think I would rather be dead”
He called me a louse and said “Think of the grouse”,
Well i thought, but I still couldn’t see
Why all Kinder Scout and the moors roundabout
Couldn’t take both the poor grouse and me
He said “All this land is my master’s”, at that I stood shaking my head
No man has the right to own mountains any more than the deep ocean bed
So I’ll walk where I will over mountain and hill
And I’ll lie where the bracken is deep
I belong to the mountains, the clear running fountains,
Where the grey rocks rise ragged & steep
I’ve seen the white hare in the gullys and the curlew fly high overhead
And sooner than part from the mountains, I think I would rather be dead.