Retro: A mass protest remembered

Ramblers in Sheffield c. 1900 -1914
Ramblers in Sheffield c. 1900 -1914
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Sheffield Walking Festival has just celebrated 84 years since the Abbey Brook Mass Trespass.

In 1932 a group of 200 dedicated ramblers gathered to walk illegally over private moorland in the north-west of Sheffield.

Ramblers in Sheffield c. 1900 -1914

Ramblers in Sheffield c. 1900 -1914

Walkers retraced the route that the trespassers took as part of the event, walking a path that is widely regarded as the best moorland path in Sheffield.

They followed the old Duke’s Road above Bradfield on the 12.5-mile route.

Abbey Brook was a demonstration in response to the imprisonment of five walkers on the more famous Kinder Mass Trespass five months earlier.

The trespasses were organised after a long-standing feud between gamekeepers who owned the moorland around Sheffield and steelworkers who wanted to escape to the country for weekend hikes.

We want to celebrate the achievements of those who pioneered our right to access

The first-ever working men’s walking club, Sheffield Clarion Ramblers, was the driving force behind the protests.

Founder and Labour politician GHB Ward was at the helm.

The Abbey Brook trespass helped to make areas of moorland open to the public that are now enjoyed by thousands every year.

The protesters also paved the way for similar public areas to be introduced across the country.

Ramblers battle the elements in the Moss Valley in Sheffield Walking Festival 2016. From left: Lee Goodison, 50, Judy Gathercole, 70, Karen Turner, 64, Phil Samuels, 60, Bill Kelly, 66, Clare Hill, 40, and Malcolm Hill, 53

Ramblers battle the elements in the Moss Valley in Sheffield Walking Festival 2016. From left: Lee Goodison, 50, Judy Gathercole, 70, Karen Turner, 64, Phil Samuels, 60, Bill Kelly, 66, Clare Hill, 40, and Malcolm Hill, 53

Chris Prescott, one of the festival organisers and leader of the Abbey Brook walk, said: “We wanted to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of those who pioneered our right to access the open countryside around Sheffield, something that is easily taken for granted yet offers so much to the quality of life here in the city.”

Sheffield’s prolific walking community has maintained a strong presence since the Trespass, with the city having more walking clubs than anywhere else in the UK.

Organised by Sheffield Walking Forum and supported by The Outdoor City, the festival brings together many of the city’s walking clubs along with a host of Sheffield’s outdoor communities and national organisations such as The Wildlife Trust, Peak National Park Authority, RSPB, Ramblers Association and Walkers are Welcome.

Deputy leader and cabinet member for business and economy, Coun Leigh Bramall, said: “All the walks were led by experienced and knowledgeable guides, many local historians and authors, who kindly donated their time in order to make the walks free to attend and as a result they created a fantastic opportunity to truly showcase The Outdoor City.”

Ramblers in Sheffield c. 1900 -1914

Ramblers in Sheffield c. 1900 -1914