Most people have heard of the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932. Why is it, then, that so
few know of the much larger and more successful mass trespasses which occurred in Keswick 45 years earlier?
In 1883 Canon Rawnsley came to be vicar at Crosthwaite. He soon became worried that local landowners had been closing footpaths which had been used for generations, including the routes to Latrigg summit, Friars Crag, Castle Crag and Walla Crag. Rawnsley revived the Keswick and District Footpath Preservation Association which then decided to test the right of access over these paths. On Saturday 1st October two thousand people gathered in Keswick. The demonstrators marched up Latrigg singing ‘Rule Britannia’ as they went. The event was reported in the national press. Canon Rawnsley himself was absent and the trespass was led by Henry Irwin Jenkinson, who is also remembered for his role in raising the money to buy Fitz Park for the town.
The landowners, the Spedding family, issued writs for damages and the case came to court at the Carlisle Assizes. In an out of court settlement it was agreed that one footpath, passing the Speddings house at Windy Brow, would remain private but the other, Spooney Green Lane, would be open to the public. This was seen as a victory for the protestors and led to reopening of the other local footpaths.
The Kinder Scout trespass in 1932, was a smaller affair with only 500 taking part. The trespass did not achieve any change in the access to disputed land. We will consider why it is that this trespass remains in the national consciousness while the Keswick trespasses are largely forgotten.