Kinder Reservoir from Kinder Scout
Kinder Reservoir from Kinder Scout

Kinder Mass Trespass  

In April 1932 over 400 people participated in a mass trespass onto Kinder Scout, a bleak moorland plateau, the highest terrain in the Peak District.

The event was organised by the Manchester branch of the British Workers Sports Federation. They chose to notify the local press in advance, and as a result, Derbyshire Constabulary turned out in force. A smaller group of ramblers from Sheffield set off from Edale and met up with the main party on the Kinder edge path.

Five men from Manchester, including the leader, Benny Rothman, were subsequently jailed.

75 years later the trespass was described as:

the most successful direct action in British history

Lord Roy Hattersley, 2007.

April 2012 saw the 80th Anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout celebrated by a week of walks, talks, and exhibitions, with a launch ceremony featuring Mike Harding, Stuart Maconie, and the leaders of major agencies involved in access to countryside. A new book was published, and commemorative posters are on sale.

This website sets out to explain why this event had such a far reaching impact that it is still so enthusiastically remembered and celebrated today. The trespass is widely credited with leading to:

  • legislation in 1949 to establish the National Parks
  • contributing to the development of the Pennine Way and many other long distance footpath
  • securing walkers’ rights over open country and common land in the C.R.O.W. Act of 2000

The trespass was controversial at the time, being seen as a working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands for grouse shooting. It remains controversial today, both for those reasons and because some think its importance has been overstated. Our aim is to tell the story of the mass trespass, but to put it in the context of all the other contributions made to securing access rights to the moorlands, mountains and countryside of the UK.

We hope to go on to set up a permanent Kinder Visitor Centre in Hayfield (where the 400 Manchester trespassers set off from) dedicated to telling this story, and to serve as a focal point for visitors and for current moorland access issues.

Description of Trespass – 24 April 1932

The events of Sunday, April 24, 1932 have long since entered the realms of rambling mythology.

Turned off by gamekeepers on Bleaklow a few weeks before and frustrated by the lack of progress made by the official ramblers’ federations towards the Right to Roam, members of the Lanchashire branch of the Communist-inspired British Workers’ Sport Federation decided they would make a public mass trespass on Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District.

Bowden BridgeQuarry 1932
Bowden BridgeQuarry 1932

About 400 ramblers set off from Bowden Bridge quarry on Sunday April 24 in 1932. About halfway up William Clough, the trespassers scrambled up towards the Kinder plateau and came face-to-face with the Duke of Devonshire’s gamekeepers.

In the ensuing scuffle, one keeper was slightly hurt, and the ramblers pressed on to the plateau. Here they were greeted by a group of Sheffield-based trespassers who had set off that morning crossing Kinder from Edale. After exchanging congratulations, the two groups joyously retraced their steps, the Sheffield trespassers back to Edale and the Manchester contingent to Hayfield.

Kinder Mass Trespass Walking Group 1932
Kinder Mass Trespass Walking Group 1932

As they returned to the village, five ramblers were arrested by police accompanied by keepers, and taken to the Hayfield Lock-up. The day after the trespass, Rothman and four other ramblers were charged at New Mills Police Court with unlawful assembly and breach of the peace.

Kinder Scout Trespassers - Reward Notice
Kinder Scout Trespasses – Reward Notice

All six subsequently pleaded not guilty and were remanded to be tried at Derby Assizes – 60 miles from the ramblers’ homes – in July 1932. Five of the six were found guilty and were jailed for between two and six months.

The arrest and subsequent imprisonment of the trespassers unleashed a huge wave of public sympathy, and ironically united the ramblers cause.


The Redpepper Article ‘Occupy Kinder Trespass remembering the masses’ Aug 2012, by Dave Toft, is available here:

Eye-witness Description of Mass Trespass – Guardian Article: Mon 25 Apr 1932

Daily Dispatch article - Monday 25 April 1932
Daily Dispatch article – Monday 25 April 1932

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