Home International The Manchester Rambler (Live from Kinder Scout)

The Manchester Rambler (Live from Kinder Scout)

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The 24th of April marks the 90th anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout – a mass act of civil disobedience that took place in 1932. It served to highlight how walkers in England and Wales were denied access to areas of open country. Alongside the many participants was the folk singer Ewan MacColl who, inspired by the protest, went on to write The Manchester Rambler. This mass act of civil disobedience is often cited as having paved the way for the creation of England’s National Parks. 90 years on, this is still an issue in the UK and organisations like Right to Roam are still campaigning to extend the Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act to improve access to open space, the merits of which include physical, mental and spiritual health benefits.

Kate Griffin and Ford Collier of Mishra had the idea of creating a music video to celebrate the anniversary of the mass trespass and contacted various organisations to ask for support, including the National Trust who are the landowners of Kinder Scout. They tell us that although the National Trust were open to supporting the project, they did not grant permission, instead suggesting they use another location that was “less sensitive”. “It was frustrating,” says Kate, “if anything though, the irony of the situation made us more determined to do it on Kinder Scout”.

Ford says “It’s a good example of how the laws of the UK allow for only a very narrow use of open countryside; anything beyond just walking the footpath, from swimming, camping, or apparently playing musical instruments can be considered trespassing. We are still very far from having the true right to roam”.

The video was recorded entirely on location, featuring members of the bands Mishra, Auka, Shivelights, and Owen Spafford and Louis Campbell. It will be released on the day of the anniversary, which is the 24th of April. The creators are not seeking to profit from the video and want to use it to raise awareness of both the history of the struggle for countryside access in England and the continued lack of rights of ordinary citizens over green open spaces.

Joss Mann-Hazell: In the last few years, so many people have strengthened their connections with the wild places close to home. Now, more than ever, we understand the psychological and emotional benefits of spending time in green spaces, and we know how crucial it is to protect these environments. As Sheffielders, we’re lucky enough to live in one of Europe’s greenest cities, and on the edge of Britain’s first National Park. Many people have heard of the Mass Trespass event, when hundreds of workers from the surrounding cities organised a walk from Hayfield to Kinder Scout in what was then a law-defying act of wilful trespass, eventually leading to greater public access to the countryside in Britain. But what many people don’t realise is that 90 years later we in England still have severely restricted access to these beautiful spaces, especially when compared with our European neighbours. 92% of the countryside, and 97% of our rivers, are off-limits to the public (statistics from righttoroam.org.uk). Half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population (The Guardian). Wild swimming is illegal in all but a few spaces in the Peak District, and wild camping is completely off-limits. When reading The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes, I was fascinated by how he describes the gradual acts of enclosure, persecution and privatisation throughout Britain’s history that have led us to the situation we have today. Anyone interested in campaigning for greater public access to Britain’s rivers, woodland, downlands, uplands and green belts should look into the Right to Roam movement to find out more.

Ford Collier and Kate Griffin: We’ve always done things in an alternative way, rather than following the beaten track; our idea of a holiday is sleeping in a van in a layby in a beautiful part of the country, or camping in the middle of the wilderness, and the peak district is one of those places where it’s next to impossible to do that (without an angry wake-up call). We are told it has to do with protecting wildlife and nature, but there are many countries where the laws allow people to camp in open spaces, and there exists a culture of being in nature responsibly. We think that the restrictions we have in most parts of the country have more to do with a culture of private ownership and exclusion than anything else.

Mishra are on tour, so audiences can come and celebrate the anniversary with them by singing along live:

Mishra Dates

St Columba’s Church, Chester – Friday 22nd AprilThe Tithe Barn, Nailsea – Sunday 24th AprilCrossover Festival, Congleton – Friday 29th AprilPound Arts Centre, Corsham – 30th AprilHolmfirth Festival of Folk – 7th May

Tickets are available from Mishra’s website: www.mishramusic.co.uk/gigs

More details about Right to Roam can be found here:

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