How I trespassed on the duke's forbidden moors
Thursday 26 February 1998
They are not the most shapely of hills and it is hardly likely that ramblers' boots will erode scars across them even if a "right to roam" is granted. Yet the fell tops beckoned.
As the Government was unveiling its cautious approach to achieving public access to some four million acres, The Independent was advance testing the right to roam in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire. Despite its name, this is open moorland, home of grouse and birds of prey.
We chose Bowland, and specifically the Abbeystead Estate of the Duke of Westminster, because it has been a classic example of "forbidden Britain" for decades. Tom Stephenson, the father of the Pennine Way who died 10 years ago, spent most of his life angry about the denial of access in Bowland.
No bailiffs appeared as we walked the moors. We reached Grizedale Head and descended to Abbeystead on a private track beautifully maintained for the comfort of grouse shooting parties. Then we sampled the south side of the estate, following a vehicle track before crossing the moor towards Johnny Pye's.
Intimidation rather than confrontation seems to be the way of Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the sixth duke. I know of no part of upland Britain where the "Private" signs are so thick on the ground.
The 46-year old duke has bankrolled the Countryside Movement, set up to defend hunting and country sports and to oppose a right to roam, to the tune of pounds 1.3m. The public has gained a boothold on the estate: the duke's predecessor allowed an access strip along the highest ridge over Clougha Pike and Ward's Stone and this duke has added a little more. But at least 90 per cent of the estate remains barred.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial: Case turns into a bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Liam Neeson on death of wife Natasha Richardson: ‘When I hear the door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her’
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson
- 5 Livr: A social network only for drunk people
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...