Maps reveal thousands of acres of private land now open to walkers

A A A

It has taken 120 years and more, but on Sunday week the Right to Roam finally arrives. Thousands of acres of mountain, moor and downland become available to walkers when the first great stretches of private land are opened up under the new legislation.

It has taken 120 years and more, but on Sunday week the Right to Roam finally arrives. Thousands of acres of mountain, moor and downland become available to walkers when the first great stretches of private land are opened up under the new legislation.

For groups such as the Ramblers' Association, and especially for the Labour movement, September 19 will be a historic day, marking the climax of what has probably been the longest-running campaign in British social history.

It originated in the desire of workers in grim Victorian industrial towns to enjoy the beautiful countryside which surrounded them, but from which they were barred by great landowners and gradually became an organised crusade.

In the 1930s, there were violent clashes between would-be ramblers and gamekeepers on northern grouse moors such as Kinder Scout in Derbyshire, and subsequently, the Right to Roam became a talismanic objective for organised labour. Its passing into law in 2000 with the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW Act) delighted backbench Labour MPs, and has been the principal Old Labour achievement of Tony Blair's government - along with the minimum wage.

The intervening four years have been spent carefully mapping the 3,200 sq miles (830,000 hectares) new "access land" on which the public will now have a right to walk, under the five categories of mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land, and hearing appeals from objecting landowners - the singer Madonna having been the most high-profile.

The access land will become available to the public in a rolling programme between now and November 2005. The first two regions - south-east and north-west England - will be opened up next week. Special new Ordnance Survey maps for both regions (in the 1:25,000 Explorer series) have been rushed into print, showing the access land as yellow with a brown border. They carry the new access logo of a figure on a horizon.

The north-west, in particular, has provoked most emotive reaction so far. Areas that have been contentious in the past include the moors of the Derbyshire Peak District, and the Forest of Bowland in north Lancashire, where much of the land is owned - and has been kept closed - by the Duke of Westminster.

The Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael, will be joining ramblers in both areas on September 19 to mark the day, which he said yesterday would be "a landmark in the social history of Britain."

"This will be a very special day for everyone who loves our countryside as, for the first time, people will be able to enjoy some of Britain's most beautiful scenery that was once off-limits. It introduces a major new right for which people have campaigned for well over a century," he said.

Nick Barrett, Chief Executive of the Ramblers' Association, which from 1985 led the modern campaign that resulted in the CROW Act, said: "It's true to say that this will be a genuinely historic moment."

"The landscapes being opened to the nation under the CROW Act are as much a part of our national heritage as Stonehenge. For many the joy of walking is getting off the beaten track; we all now have a right to do just that."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones