I walked up Kinder Scout yesterday as part of another commemoration of the trespass.
As I had some time in Hayfield (and it wasn’t raining) I found the village shop which sells pies and cakes.1 I got a curry wedge for the road. 😋
I met the XR High Peak group in the Bowden Bridge car park.
Before setting off, the group was addressed by Dave Toft of the Hayfield Trespass Society.
This bit of his speech stood out for me:
All the single-issue campaigners opposed the trespass, they didn’t agree with it at all. All these young communists coming out, rocking the boat. But the big strength of it is that for them it was a seamless part of the struggle for a fairer, more equitable society. For many of us, me particularly growing up in Salford, the struggle was always urban, and industrial, and what’s fallen under the radar is land ownership. The countryside is somewhere you come out and enjoy leisure, what those young people in 1932 understood was that it’s not something extra, it’s a crucial part of our struggle for a fairer society… We’re missing something if we don’t get a picture of the power, the wealth, that land ownership confers on people.
We set a good pace on the walk up, the right balance of steady marching without getting exhausted, going up the snake path.
As I’ve come to expect with these paths, we went up one dead end, and the marchers naturally separated into discrete groups.
I didn’t make it all the way to the top, worried about getting back in time for the last bus I turned around back down the snake path at William Clough. Most of the others carried on upwards to Sandy Heys.
I appreciated getting to go through New Mills, I walked along the Sett Valley to Hayfield several years ago and Torr Vale left a lasting impression.
I watched eagerly from the train window as we emerged out into the steep valley, the huge mill to one side, rays of sun blinking through the trees. Even without the nostalgia, this place is special. It felt good to be back2 in the Peak District, although probably not in the best circumstances. I had my first dose of the Covid vaccine the day before; I didn’t sleep well, woke up very early, and spent too much of the day hanging around waiting for buses or trains or people.
As part of a long wait in Sheffield, I decided to go see the Park Hill estate near the station.
Park Hill is famous enough, although this was a spontaneous visit, I haven’t studied the area beforehand. The estate was built in the 1960s as part of slum clearance, it’s known for the ‘streets in the sky’ - open corridors away from ground level.
It was originally inhabited by steelworkers, and after redevelopment some buildings have been converted into student flats. This is Béton House:
It’s strange how the old concrete structure now looks so… generic. You can’t see it well in this photo but the inlaid balconies are painted yellow and blue, the bright colourful aesthetic of a cheap shopping centre. I’m sure that if you showed me this building on its own, I’d have difficulty picking it apart from any other student halls around the country.
Writing in the Guardian ten years ago, Owen Hatherley called it
an embarrassing reminder of a time when it was thought that the best way to repair a listed building that served a much-needed social purpose was the expulsion of its unpicturesque inhabitants.
It still looks like an unfinished project. Béton House is new-ish, other areas are preserved in their original state, and the rest is under construction, the half-demolished skeleton of the building covered up with scaffolding.
Old photos of this place show there were shops on ground level, and a pub. Those have now been replaced by office spaces. There’s a cycle shed, a lonely basketball hoop (with no court), what I guess is a smoking area. The ground level was all empty save for a well-dressed guy who asked me what I was doing there and directed me back to the station.