What is a National Park?

Details for What is a National Park?

Blencarthra
Bridge over the River Derwent

The history and background of the UK's fantastic and much loved National Parks, how and when they were formed, the public's rights of way/access, and who owns and looks after them.

The worlds first National Park - Yellowstone Park in the USA was established in 1872 by an Act of Congress. In 1889, there was a farsighted leader in the Manchester Guardian which suggested that the Lake District should be nationalised or, failing that, some kind of conservation should be adopted to prevent spoliation of the area by commercial interests. During the next fifty years, a movement was developed to gain more public access to mountains, and Bills were introduced in Parliament in 1908, 1924, 1926 and 1927 in an attempt to achieve this end. For various reasons they were not successful and in 1932 a mass trespass took place on Kinder Scout, Fighting took place between gamekeepers and walkers, the police stepped in and a number of arrests were made. The local magistrates handed out some savage prison sentences, but honesty, integrity and above all gentleness of those who suffered for their obvious love of the mountains caught the public imagination and by 1939 the Access to the Mountains Act became law.

During the war a number of committees were sat and reports were commissioned that resulted in significant social changes in the post-war years. Some, like the Beveridge Report, have radically changed our lives; others are not so well known to public but have nevertheless improved the quality of our lives. Into the latter category falls a report by a committee presided over by Lord Justice Scott which stated;in 1942 that the establishment of national parks in...