Walkers have always been welcome in Hayfield – and still are!
As early as the 1890’s, Hayfield was welcoming large numbers of visitors from Greater Manchester who were using the railway to escape from the smoke and grime of the city to come out and walk on the hills. In 1894, when a local landowner threatened to close the ancient Snake Path, a group of walkers met in Hayfield to discuss how to oppose the closure. They included Richard Pankhurst, husband of Emmeline Pankhurst. They decided to form a footpath society to fight the closure and later met in Manchester to create what is now the Peak and Northern Footpath Society. They raised money for legal costs and in 1897 achieved a great victory in preventing the closure and securing the right of way ‘forever’, a victory commemorated by a plaque at the junction of the path with Kinder Road. It was the first victory of its kind and led to many further successful court actions.
Kinder Trespass Poem Video
After the First World War, a new generation of young factory workers began visiting the village in large numbers. By the 1930’s, the railway company reported an average of 6,000 every weekend, with 13,000 on Easter weekend in 1930. Having left school aged fourteen, many of them had been walking in the hills throughout their teenage years. They were impatient for change to the oppressive lack of access to the open moors. Following an incident with gamekeepers near Little Hayfield, Benny Rothman and a few of his friends, all in their late teens or early twenties, decided enough was enough and they began organising a mass trespass. On 24th April 1932, around six hundred young people, mainly from Manchester and Salford and including a young Ewan McColl (who went on to write The Manchester Rambler), managed to gather in Hayfield and march out to William Clough and up onto Kinder. There was no fighting, though a game keeper was hurt in a scuffle, but on returning to the village six of the leaders were arrested and five were sentenced to six months hard labour. The adverse publicity for the authorities meant that the event became a rallying point for access campaigners and when in 1948 the Labour Government created the first National Park, it was here in the Peak District.
So Hayfield has been host to arguably two of the most important events in the history of access to our countryside and should be very proud indeed of welcoming walkers, then and now! Walkers and visitors are not a problem – however, lack of infrastructure provision by Derbyshire County Council means that we have traffic and parking problems which need urgent attention and investment by DCC.
Chair, Hayfield Kinder Trespass Group