Walking club for London and the Home Counties
In Britain there are three main types of public rights of way.
This public right of way is for walkers only. (Marked on Ordnance Survey (OS) maps as short green dashes. Ref.: Legend below.)
This public right of way is for walkers, horse-riders and cyclists only. (Marked on OS maps as long green dashes. Ref.: Legend above.)
This public right of way is for all: Walkers, horse-riders, cyclists and motorised vehicles (commonly farm vehicles and motor bikes). (Marked on OS maps as long green dashes with a bar across it. Ref.: Legend above.) Originally byways were established (prior to motorised vehicles) as highways to be used by horses and carts. With the introduction of motorised vehicles use of a byway was extended to include them. Unfortunately where the surface of the byway is not tarmacked it can easily become damaged, particularly during the winter months in muddy conditions. It is for this reason that some byways now have seasonal access for non-essential motorised vehicles during the winter months.
Paths provided by the landowner as an alternative route. These are shown on OS maps as short orange dashes for permissive footpaths and long orange dashes for permissive bridleways These are not rights of way and the landowner may withdraw permission.
National Trails are long distance paths along public rights of way in England and Wales. The idea for National Trails came about after the Second World War, whereby a long distances route could be established by linking various well established (and not so well established) paths, consisting of footpaths, bridleways, byways and minor roads. They are marked with an acorn symbol on the waymarks along the route. The South Downs Way, North Downs Way, The Ridgeway and The Thames Path in the south east of England are all National Trails.
Currently there 15 National Trails in England and Wales. The first ever National Trail was The Pennine Way which was designated in 1951 and officially opened on 24th April 1965.
Given the history of the area, then it is probably only right that the Pennine Way became the first National Trail in England and Wales.
The 269 mile/429km route runs along the "backbone of England" - The Pennine Hills. Starting at Edale in The Peak District it runs north via the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park to finish at Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish borders, just inside Scotland.
The recent (20th century) history of this route has come to represent the struggle by hikers for public access to land, led by Tom Stephenson and The Ramblers. In June 1935 Tom Stephenson wrote an article for the Daily Herald which is widely credited to have been the inspiration for the creation of The Pennine Way.
In the article 'Wanted - A Long Green Trail' he contrasted the financial support and encouragement of the US government towards the creation of the 2000 mile Appalachian Trail and 2500 John Muir Trail, against the UK authorities hostile attitude to walkers in Britain. (This was just three years after The Kinder Scout trespass.) Tom Stephenson wrote of two American girls asking for advice for a walking holiday in England, and wondered "what they would think of our island, particularly the restrictions placed in the way of those who wished to see some of our most captivating scenary. If, at the end of their tour, these visitors from across the Atlantic are over-loud in their praises of their native 'Land of Liberty', who shall blame them?" His article concluded: "Let us have this through route to health and happiness for this and succeeding generations who may thus make acquaintance with some of the finest scenary in the land. Whatever the cost, it would be a worthy and enduring testimony bringing health and pleasure beyond computation, for none could walk that Pennine Way without being improved in mind and body, inspired and invigorated and filled with the desire to explore every corner of this lovely island."
Thus the establishment of The Pennine Way came to signify the wider struggle to open up the private shooting moors and estates of the north of England.A walk with Tom
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