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Mishra Sheffield musicians mark Kinder Scout mass trespass with music video

"We are a group of musicians who asked the National Trust if we could record a video celebrating the event on Kinder Scout, but were told we couldn't. So we decided to do it anyway…”

Musicians from Sheffield and Leeds marking the Kinder Scout mass trespass: Mishra, Auka, Shivelights, and Owen Spafford

Musicians and filmmakers from Sheffield and Leeds have collaborated on a music video that celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Kinder Scout mass trespass by performing a new version of Ewan MacColl’s ‘The Manchester Rambler’, captured on the side of the historic mountain. The song was inspired by the 1932 mass trespass, an act of civil disobedience that is often cited as having paved the way for the creation of England’s national parks.

We are a group of musicians who asked the National Trust if we could record a video celebrating the event on Kinder Scout, but were told we couldn't. So we decided to do it anyway…”

Kate Griffin and Ford Collier of the band Mishra had the idea of creating a music video to celebrate the occasion and contacted various organisations to ask for support, including the National Trust who are the landowners of Kinder Scout. The organisers were surprised that although the National Trust were open to supporting the project, they did not grant permission, instead suggesting they use another location that was “less sensitive”.

“It was frustrating” says Kate. “If anything, though, the irony of the situation made us more determined to do it on Kinder Scout”.

Ford says, “It’s a good example of how the laws of the UK allow for only a very narrow use of open countryside; anything beyond just walking the footpath, from swimming, camping, or apparently playing musical instruments can be considered trespassing. We are still very far from having the true right to roam”.

Many people are aware of the Kinder mass trespass and the impact it had on leading to greater public access to the countryside, but what is less known is that, 90 years on, in England the general public are still only allowed access to just 3% of rivers and 8% of land, wild swimming is illegal in all but a few spaces in the Peak District and wild camping is completely off limits. The enclosed reality in our green space is not hard to notice when there are aggressive barbed-wire fences and the ‘Keep out! Trespassers will be prosecuted!' signs put up at every turning point along our beloved public footpaths.

Our rights to roam freely in this country are still being controlled by a small landowning class, with half of England owned by less than 1% of its population. This creates an environment of exclusion against the majority and the hierarchy of power, control and privatisation of land is a direct continuation of the land enclosures that has ceased to see any significant change for hundreds of years.

Commemorative plaque of mass trespass of Kinder Scout at Bowden Bridge Quarry, Hayfield
Marcin Floryan

Over the pandemic “so many people have strengthened their connections with the wild places close to home.” says Joss from Mishra. “Now, more than ever, we understand the psychological and emotional benefits of spending time in green spaces, and we know how crucial it is to protect these environments.”

In other areas of Europe there exists a culture of caring and being in nature responsibly, “We think that the restrictions we have in most parts of the country have more to do with a culture of private ownership and exclusion than anything else”, explain Kate and Ford.

90 years on after the Kinder mass trespass, it is sobering to remember that act was once a radical expression from local men and women who wanted access to the land around them and subsequently five people were imprisoned because of it. The creation of national parks such as the Peak District, though in some ways successful, has also resulted in containing people in one enclosed specific area instead of having rights to access the land locally around them. We still have a long way to go in widening the access and land rights and challenging the privatisation and ownership that continues to prohibit us from enjoying the natural world we live around.

The video was recorded entirely on ‘Kinder Scout’ location, featuring members of the bands Mishra, Auka, Shivelights, Owen Spafford and Louis Campbell. It will be released on the day of the anniversary, April 24. The creators are not seeking to profit from the video and want to use it to raise awareness of both the history of the struggle for countryside access in England and the continued lack of rights for ordinary citizens over green open spaces.

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