The Peak District's 60th anniversary
...UK's first National Park is 60
Just over 60 years ago, the post-war UK Government voted to protect the country’s most cherished landscapes with the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and just two years after that particular anniversary follows another. On April 17th 2011 it was exactly 60 years since the Peak District became the UK’s first designated National Park.
Prior to the act of 1949, ordinary folk were denied the right to freely access areas of open country in England and Wales, and the Peak District and its faithful visitors played a key role in increasing awareness and ultimately securing Government support.
The famous mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932 made a huge impression, its influence carrying major significance at the time – and one which still permeates today.
Made up of 555 square miles of stunning scenery and geo and bio-diversity, the Peak District’s popularity is ever-enduring. Approximately 22 million visitors are widely reported to flock here every year which, if accurate, makes the Peak the 2nd most-visited National Park on earth - after Mount Fuji.
The ever-modest Peak District National Park Authority is quick to play down those figures, however, estimating around half that number visit annually.
Regardless of the stats, it’s easy to see why the Peak District remains such a draw. Its proximity to major cities such as Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and even Nottingham no doubt helps, but the magnetism of the Peak lies mainly in its simple, rustic beauty.
Beauty like this needs protecting, and as well as being safeguarded by virtue of its status as a designated National Park, it is aided and abetted by organisations such as Friends of the Peak District. In fact, having been in operation under various guises since 1924, FOTPD pre-dates the National Parks and, like the mass trespass, played a pivotal role in its creation.
With its usual array of fantastic annual shows, country fairs and other events, coupled with the 60th anniversary celebrations, 2011 is set to be a particularly memorable year in the Peak District – and everyone’s invited.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015