The beauty of our National Parks
It is almost impossible to think of the United Kingdom today without any of its outstanding National Parks. However, you do not have to go back too many decades to imagine such a time. The desire for spaces to roam and walk has an interesting history. Back in the 1880s, the M.P. James Bryce (who initially represented Tower Hamlets and later South Aberdeen) introduced the right to roam Bill. This failed but the idea of open spaces, with free access for all to enjoy, was acknowledged. Another key event was the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932 to petition for the right to roam freely on open access land. In the 1940s the principle of the National Parks was accepted and the first – the Peak District National Park – was established in 1951. National parks now span the UK from the Cairngorms in the north, the Broads in the east, Dartmoor in the south and Pembrokeshire along the west coastline of Wales. And the principle remains strong with the latest National Park designated in 2010 in South Downs.
The Peak District National Park border skirts Matlock and offers wonderful opportunities to walk, cycle and explore the stunning varied landscapes. From heather covered moorland, to meandering rivers, limestone dales or rock edges. A particular favourite of ours is the ‘salt cellar’ rock formation – and as the picture shows no explanation is needs for the name! And perhaps one of the best known is Burbage Edge. Designated walking ways have become popular retreats more recently. The Limestone Way goes through the heart of Derbyshire and the Derbyshire Dales and is accessible in both directions form Matlock. It can be accessed in part of for those wanting a more challenging walk the whole trail covers 45 miles. The Derwent Valley Heritage Way takes in some wonderful landscape and history. It also offers the opportunity to explore the UNESCO designated Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site. This offers an opportunity to visit Cromford Mill, where event sin the in the 1770s changed the world we live in. I wonder if Bryce ever realised the potential of his ambition to bring awe and wonder to many. Next time you walk in a National Park, think of him and the others who fought for these wonderful spaces we enjoy so much today.