We are sure everyone involved in Extinction Rebellion recognises that they are not the first to use the strength and energy of the public to achieve their goals against the powerful political and landowning elite. We recently interviewed the Footpath Secretary of the Ramblers Trafford Group and she reminded us of the local hero involved in the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass.
FOCM: We didn’t realise there was such a local connection with the Trespass, tell us more!
June: Well Benny Rothman, who was one of the leaders, actually lived in Timperley, I think his house now has a blue plaque. It was the efforts of those involved in the Mass Trespass that inspired the formation of the Ramblers Association. Then as now, the countryside represented an escape from daily life, particularly for those who do not have access to green spaces. Over the last sixty years the Ramblers have played a pivotal role helping secure the footpath network in England and Wales. We protect the places people go walking and believe in protecting people’s ability to enjoy the intrinsic values of nature.
FOCM: We are lucky in Trafford to have Carrington Moss as a local place for walking, cycling and horseriding. We don’t have to get in a car to find it, it is on our doorsteps. Why is it important to you?
June: Trafford Ramblers organise led walks every week. We have over 200 members of all ages and abilities and Carrington Moss has a number of very safe, and free, walking routes the public can use. The big problem is that most of the land is privately owned, and, if the routes are not formally recorded public rights of way, the landowners could restrict access in the future. Many people have been using these footpaths, not just for regular exercise but also as a way to soothe their emotional challenges, so they are an important asset, often better than a prescription!
FOCM: The existing routes are not all public rights of way are they?
June: No, and the problem is that, if a landowner just allows the public to walk on a path, they can withdraw permission at a moment’s notice and the path can no longer be used by the public. So we need as many of the footpaths to be formally recorded as public rights of way, as possible, rather than to keep the status quo with the permissive paths we have today.
FOCM: So what can we do – can our members help?
June: We are really keen to get the paths onto Trafford Council’s Definitive Map, this would mean the footpaths are protected in law and future generations would still be able to use them. We’d like users of the existing footpaths to help us with our claims for public rights of way. So if your members have been using the routes across Carrington Moss and have not yet completed a user evidence form, please ask them to email email@example.com. We can make our claims on the grounds that the public has established a right of way by using these routes, on an uninterrupted basis, for over 20 years. That does not mean that the people who have used these routes, or parts of them, must show they used them every day, nor that the same person has used the routes over the whole 20 years. Regular use by a range of individuals to these overall routes, over the 20 year period, is sufficient. So, partial use of the way, or occasional use only over a limited period of time will be helpful in supporting our claim.
FOCM: Brilliant, we will remind them again about that. I think I have seen your group maintaining the routes across Carrington Moss too?
June: Yes, Trafford Ramblers has an active Footpath Team who monitor and help maintain local footpaths and Rights of Way. Some walk local footpaths and check that the paths meets the standards laid down by Trafford Council. We also have small teams maintaining paths by cutting back obstructing vegetation, repairing natural surfaces and placing waymarks (yellow circles with black arrows) where needed. We work out of doors, all year round and we are always looking for more volunteers for this, so if any of your members are interested, we would love to hear from them.
FOCM: I think I saw the team on the Transpennine Trail, it is a key route across Carrington Moss.
June: Yes, it is an important part of our landscape. I believe HIMOR, who own the land at the Carrington Moss part of the TPT, have said that they will renew the lease for the TPT, which is great news. They have also said they will not object to our recent claim for a public right of way on Birch Road, which is another key route across Carrington Moss.
FOCM: Yes, in fact, HIMOR would be keen to have a workshop with us about the public rights of way across Carrington Moss, can you join us?
June: Try and keep me away, am looking forward to it!
If you want to know more about Trafford Ramblers, please check out their website at this link http://www.ramblers-trafford.co.uk/