Walking the path of an ancient tradition | Letter

Peter Overstall on his great-grandfather’s activism with regard to the right to roam in 1873

Activist walkers long predate the Kinder Scout mass trespass of 1932, and some enjoyed considerable local support (Walking is a glorious primal pastime – and far more radical than you think, 26 December). In January 1873, my great-grandfather and his friend, representing the Rawtenstall Ratepayers Association, asserted the public right to a footpath at Pikelaw by demolishing an obstruction set up by the guardians. They were tried and fined sixpence, but refused to pay, so were sentenced to seven days in jail. On their release, they were met at Rawtenstall station by a large crowd and a brass band playing See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes! They were carried in triumph to a reception at the Co-operative Hall, where they were each presented with an inscribed writing desk to mark the occasion.
Peter Overstall
Dulas, Herefordshire

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