About Kate Ashbrook

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body, founded in 1865 (its founders went on to create the National Trust in 1895).

Kate AshbrookI am also vice-president and chair of the Ramblers (and footpath secretary of its Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area), a trustee of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, patron of the Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network and a member of the Institute of Rights of Way and Access Management.  I do surveys for the British Trust for Ornithology and am trying to learn birdsong.

The views I express here are my own.



32 Responses to About Kate Ashbrook

  1. Doug Dew says:

    Hi Kate
    I wonder if you have seen this campaign?


    It is now the 5th highest campaign idea on 38 Degrees. It has reached this position through the efforts of canoeists and swimmers, but the scope of the campaign is far wider than just waterways. I wonder if you might be able to help mobilize assistance from people in the rambling community?


  2. Ed Kendrick says:

    A pedant writes…
    Shouldn’t the sentence in the above paragraph read “its founders went on to create the National Trust in 1895” not 1995?


  3. Jill Hood says:

    Hello Kate,

    Can you help us ? Here in Stone in Staffordshire. We have launched a campaign to KEEP WESTBRIDGE PARK GREEN. A beautiful open green space always described as the village green of our town. Stafford Borough council has announced plans to build on the park , a much needed facility for teenagers ( I would welcome it) on the area which is already built on with a gym and car park. The facility will be financed by a development of a supermarket . the green has been used for recreational purposes for over many many years, football, dog walkers, food and drink festival, the week long summer festival plus the annual bonfire. There are 2 sets of badgers established and otters are iminent in the river Trent which meanders through the park. The Stone canoe club is housed on the park as are two buildings which house Scouts Brownies, Rainbows, cubs and Beavers , they all use the park for play time. School children have congregated there for ever and its the safest and only large green space which is hugely popular with everyone in the town. Visitors too.Our petition of 4,500 signatures will be presented to the council on Tuesday and on November 20th there will be a meeting held at our Alleynes High School. The way in which our town is always described is a large town ( population 16000) with a village mentality and it’s said with fondness! We have just been awarded the RHS Britain in Bloom silver gilt , the young peoples award and runner up with the community award. I should value your help as I know thousands will too. I do hope you can help us. If you agree we can pay your expenses if you decide to come to Staffordshire.

    Kind regards

    Jill Hood 077364 13097

  4. Hi Kate,
    I found this page via Google, but see no link to sign up to receive further blogs. The “Register” link seems to be about starting my own blog. Dream on.
    Thanks for being on the walk today, with your ever-cheerful self and source of so much information – salacious as some of it was!!!

  5. Carla Jones says:

    I’m a student currently doing my dissertation and for my dissertation I’m hypothetically re-designing The Rye in High Wycombe. I came across your blog as I’m trying to find out information about the legislative controls on the environmental impact of The Rye. I’m wondering if you have any information I could use or if you could point me in the right direction as I’m having difficulties finding anything.


  6. John Gay says:

    Good afternoon Kate
    I live in Glenridding in the Lake District (lucky me) but we have a proposal we are fighting to stop a zip wire being installed in the open countryside of our valley. It will be a four line installation with riders zipping down at some 40 to 60 mph with up to 32 using it every hour. The lines will run from a crag called Stang End (or Haystacks) NY 362 176 at the head of the valley to a farmer’s field just above the village (NY 377 171). You might think that the National Park authority would be dead against this because it is in the open landscape of the valley and would desecrate the character and quality of the area. In one sense they do indeed oppose it in that the planning department of the National Park have come out firmly against it. So we’re home and dry then? No unfortunately not, you see the landowner of the area around Haystacks has agreed in principle for the proposal to continue to the planning stage and of course that is all about the money they would gain. So who is the landowner? Well none other than the National Park itself! Furthermore the head of the National Park Richard Leafe has taken a personal interest and is in favour of the scheme! So I imagine you can see our problem now with a very clear conflict of interest present.

    I am not against zip wires. There is a very good “Go Ape” facility at Whinlatter near Keswick where the installation is amongst the woodland and so has no impact on the open landscape. Furthermore it has no impact on other fell users. This is quite different to our situation here in Glenridding; we have had so many comments on our blog and petition stating that it would put visitors off from visiting the area. Many businesses in the dale have come out against it as they understand that it is the quality and character of the landscape which draws visitors to the area upon which their trade depends.

    The planning department have made it clear that having the installation in the open countryside is unacceptable as a matter of policy principle and so you see this is not just about our valley but clearly that point applies to any open aspect of any valley in the Lake District.

    I would like to make a point about the area at the proposed start point (Stang End): there is a very busy zig zag public bridleway that runs right across the slope and the start point would be adjacent to this footpath. The planning department in their assessment express many causes for concern about the use of this slope for the proposed installation not least of which is the “dangerous interactions” (their words not mine) between the people on foot and the 4×4 vehicles that will use the footpath to transfer the zip wire customers to the start point. How can they use 4×4 vehicles on a footpath? Well if Richard Leafe is in favour who knows what will be done to change and overcome issues like that. As far as we can ascertain there has been no consultation with interested organisations such as yours for the change of status of the footpath to include vehicles (presumably to make it into a BOAT Byway Open to All Traffic).

    If you or any of your supporters can help please go to http://www.noziphere.org . You will see lots of information including a petition with over 2000 signed so far. We have an important open meeting here on Wednesday 3rd December at 7.00 in the Glenridding Public Hall. Richard Leafe will be there as will a representative from the zip wire company. It should be interesting and all are welcome. Kate, if you or any of your friends or colleagues can make it your presence will be very welcome. The full Pre_Planning Advice Statement from the National Park can be found at http://www.helvellyn.com/national_park_zipwire_advice_statement.pdf
    John Gay

    • Dear John
      Thank you for the information. I’m sorry I can’t come to the meeting but I expect you are in touch with Friends of the Lake District who will no doubt be attending.

  7. Alex says:

    HI Kate,
    Would you be interested in talking to local TV – That’s Oxford, Freeview channel 8, Live from 5pm to talk about access to the countryside in and around the county?
    Let me know

  8. Aimee says:

    Hi Kate, I work on The Great Outdoors Awards 2015 and i’m happy to tell you that, You have been shortlisted for Personality of The Year! Do you have an email i could send some info too? Or if you could contact me at shows@kelsey.co.uk
    Many Thanks,

  9. Lynne Abbott says:

    Hi Kate, It was good to talk to you briefly at the Ramblers Area meeting in Nether Stowey on 18th. I enjoyed reading your blog about the day with some lovely ‘photos of our local footpaths and landmarks. Would you mind if we used your photo of Over Stowey Church for our business engagement pack to go out to walker friendly local businesses? It is just the shot I have been looking for.
    Lynne Abbott
    Stowey Walking

  10. Lynne Abbott says:

    A jpeg would e great. Lynne

  11. Rosie Nye says:

    Hi Kate,

    My name is Rosie Nye and I am a third year archaeology student currently doing my dissertation. I am looking at Tyneham Village post 1943 and was wondering if you had any information in relation to this? I am specifically looking at the politics surrounding the area from 1943 onwards. If you could help me, I would really appreciate it.

    Best wishes,

    • Hi Rosie, thanks for getting in touch. I don’t have anything myself, but have you read Patrick Wright’s ‘The village that died for England’? It could well cover what you need. Let me know. Best of luck. Kate

      • Rosie Nye says:

        Hi Kate,

        Thank you for your reply.
        I am currently reading “The village that died for England” and I am finding it extremely useful.
        I did notice that you knew Rodney Legg. As I am sure that you are aware, he played a pivotal role within Tyneham, especially with the Tyneham Action Group. I don’t suppose there is anything that you could tell me about Rodney?

        Best wishes,

      • Yes certainly, what do you need to know? does it help to speak on the phone?

  12. Angela Charlton says:

    Kate is truly worthy of this award. A stalwart supporter of access for all.

  13. Hi Kate
    I’m a Sheffield based independent filmmaker and I’m making a short film about the Kinder Trespass of 1932. I’m in the final stages of production having interviewed several sources including Mark Metcalf who I believe has wrote an article on you… Anyway I’m looking to end the film with information about current land rights and issues we’re having and wanted your help. I’ve read some of your blog posts and interviews and I think you could really help me out. If your interested please get in touch. Jordan

  14. alison Taylor says:

    Are there any circumstances where it is acceptable to retain a right of way through a primary school playground in a rural area where an alternative route is available?

  15. alison Taylor says:

    YES, in what possible circumstances could this be the case?
    I am bewildered by your response.

  16. Best continue this correspondence by email, to ashbrookk@aol.com Please explain why you need to know and I’ll try to answer.

  17. alison Taylor says:

    I don’t think that is relevant, it’s either a yes or a no.

  18. I said yes, and you asked in what circumstances, so clearly it is not either yes or no. I’m sorry if I am not giving you the answer you wanted.

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