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December 10, 2017, 12:08:05 am by Pegasus | Views: 687 | Comments: 4

Christmas present ideas for Cavers  ;D

  :thumbsup: Thanks to the many companies who have supported UKC this year  :thumbsup: 

In return, we'd like to suggest a few Christmas present ideas - feel free to add to the list 



December 04, 2017, 03:08:02 pm by Badlad | Views: 2125 | Comments: 34

When it comes to access, the question is often asked, “…but what about the wishes of the landowner”.  Landowner wishes, and indeed their rights, are clearly important but are they sacrosanct?  Some cavers suggest that they are, while others, by their actions would suggest that they are not.  It is worth looking back at the history of countryside access to gain a better understanding.  Luckily a recent edition of the Ramblers magazine covers this subject.

According to the article, the long and turbulent history of the fight for access to Britain’s countryside started exactly 800 years ago.  Just two years after the Magna Carta, in 1217, when Henry 3rd re-established the rights of free men to access royal forests and common land with the ‘Charter of the Forests’.  This is considered the first access legislation and included the vast majority of what we would consider the countryside today.

Throughout the Middle Ages these rights were eroded away as over 6 million acres of common land was enclosed.  The main Enclosure Acts of 1750-1860 benefited the landed gentry in the name of agricultural efficiency but also enclosed moorland areas for the rearing of grouse. 

This wholesale ‘land larceny’ enraged many and so the protests began. The 1847 Battle of Glen Tilt between Edinburgh walkers and the Duke of Atholl’s ghillies and the 1896 mass trespass of Winter Hill in Lancashire being some of the first.  Many outdoor societies and associations formed around this time who demanded better access to the countryside.  Individuals too, such as the MP James Bryce introduced the first Access to the Mountains Bill.  Soon to be British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, summed up that mood, “Who ordained that a few should have the land of Britain as a perquisite, who made 10,000 people owners of the soil and the rest of us trespassers in the land of our birth?”

The Plaque on Winter Hill

Pressure began to build in the Peak District surrounded as it is by the great industrial cities of Manchester and Sheffield, with its mills and factories and back to back terraces.  Who wouldn’t want to escape to the nearby hills, but most of them were now allotted to various landowners and “Trespassers will be Prosecuted” signs appeared everywhere and were enforced by strong arm gamekeepers.  This was typical on Kinder where the celebrated mass trespass of 1932 saw a group of ramblers imprisoned, not for trespass, but public order offences.

The Ramblers Association formed in 1935 and soon had a membership larger than any political party.  With growing leisure time and increasing mobility of the population, politicians who traditionally supported the landowners, had to take note.  Hence in 1949 the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed.  The Act provided the framework for the establishment of our National Parks and also addressed public rights of way and access to open land.

The anticipated voluntary level of access was still resisted by landowners but the major opportunity for change came with the landslide Labour Government victory in 1997.  The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 granted public access to all open country, mountain, moor, heath and down.

In Scotland the situation was different where land acce...
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