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Anniversary Celebrations mark Hayfield’s Role in the battle to gain public access to the Countryside

Sheila Armstrong

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HayfieldSnake PassPeak and Northern Footpaths SocietyDavid BrattKinder Mountain Rescue

HAYFIELD'S historic role in the battle to gain public access to local moorland was remembered in a weekend of celebrations to mark the 120 anniversary of the permanent opening of the Snake Path and 85 years since the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 1932 .

The event, which was hosted by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society, began on the 27 May and was timed to be as close to the original opening of the Snake Path as possible. Staged in the Royal Hotel and village hall, visitors were able to view memorabilia from the PNFS's archives, including extracts from minute books dating from August 1894 to April 1921, maps, old photos and iconic footpath signs.

Other stallholders included Kinder Mountain Rescue, Sustainable Hayfield, Friends of the Peak District, Derbyshire Ornithological Society and the National Trust. There was also a display of photographs by Year 4 pupils at Hayfield School, illustrating different aspects of country life

Following a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Manchester bombing, PNFS President David Bratt welcomed everyone and said:  "You rarely hear of 120 years of anything being celebrated but the Peak and Northern Footpath Society is a little bit quirky. It does its own thing, it’s independent, northern and proud of it."

He went on to explain how the society was formed on 16th August 1894, following the publication of an anonymous letter in the Manchester Guardian which pointed out that landlords were increasingly excluding the public from moorland and that there was no organisation to challenge this. In response the group, originally called the Peak District and Northern Counties Footpath Preservation Society, was set up to protect public rights of way within a 50 mile radius of Manchester. Just two years later it had succeeded in its first campaign and secured a permanent route round Kinder Scout from Hayfield to the Snake Inn.

A plaque to commemorate the 120th anniversary was unveiled by PNFS Chairman, David Hurrell and Sheila Booth of Hayfield Civic Trust which will be  installed on the Snake Path near Twenty Trees.

Snake Pass Plaque

Coun Dave Toft, Chairman of Hayfield Kinder Trespass Group, described the background to the Mass Trespass and how 400 ramblers, led by Benny Rothman, used the Snake Path to launch their excursion into the forbidden areas of Kinder Scout. He said:"These two landmark victories in the continuing struggle to protect and extend responsible access to our countryside both took place in Hayfield and were eventually responsible for the creation of the first national park which was in the Peak District." 

He explained that the long-term aim of the HKTV is to set-up a Trespass Visitor Centre to publicise Hayfield's unique role and to attract tourists to the area. The group recently unveiled a plaque on the Snake Path to commemorate the arrest of the leaders and also an interpretation board on the site of Hayfield Station where the trespassers arrived by train. 

 Julie Gough of Friends of the Peak District, spoke about the launch of the new 190 mile Peak District Boundary Walk and Jody Vallance, from Moors For the Future Partnership, described how eroded blanket bogs were being regenerated by reducing soil acidity and planting Sphagnum moss, which absorbs and retains moisture.

On the Sunday two organised walks took place, a shorter one of three miles which followed the Snake Path to the Shooting Cabin returning over  Middle Moor to the Lantern Pike Inn and a longer one which followed the whole route from Hayfield to the Snake Inn, a distance of around 8 miles. Walkers were welcomed back by local jazz band, Kinder Blue, playing in the cricket pavilion.

PNFS Publicity Officer Ian Salvage who organised the event said:" I had hoped we would have more families and young people attending but overall I'm very pleased with how the weekend went."