Today, 24 April, is a special anniversary: the 87th of the Kinder Trespass, and the 54th of the opening of the Pennine Way—and of my first visit to Dartmoor which resulted in my campaigning career.
It is poignant and sad that yesterday George Haigh, probably the last of the Kinder trespassers, died aged 103.
I met George in Edale in 2012 when we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the trespass; he travelled from his home in Oxfordshire to join us. He is quoted on the grough website as saying: ‘It’s wonderful people are remembering what we did. The right to get out and be in the countryside is as important today as it was back then.’
George was born in Reddish, Stockport, in 1915. A keen footballer he left school in 1929 to play for Manchester City as an amateur, working in a dying and bleaching factory—from which he escaped to walk the hills at weekends and thus joined the Kinder trespass. He went on to play for Stockport County until the war intervened and he joined the RAF as a physical training instructor. He was Stockport County’s oldest surviving player.
George will be remembered with admiration and affection at the Spirit of Kinder event in Winnats Pass on Saturday 27 April. The courageous Kinder trespassers led the way to freedom of access to the moorland and we must never forget them.