Free walking is the simple act of accessing the outdoors which the planet itself has given us. For hundreds of years, the aristocracy and landowning elite have tried to wall off and sever the English public from vast swathes of what was once ‘Common Land’, often brutally displacing them from their homes and livelihoods in the process.
To do this in over 90% of England involves “trespassing”, despite the fact that just over the border in Scotland, the Right to Roam is enshrined in law following the 2003 Land Reform Act. In 2021 the Conservative government announced its intention to criminalise trespass through the notorious Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, now passed into law. Trespass was dropped from the Bill, for now. Access to roadsides and lay-bys, now deemed illegal encampments, has been passed and has serious consequences, especially for those most marginalised from the land such as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities who this bill deliberately targetted.
Through free walking, we acknowledge the right of all people to access land which once belonged to everyone, and envision a society where the Right to Roam is a fundamentally respected freedom.