Thursday, 20 March 2014

No longer earth bound

Much of the conversations on the project Stitching the Wars have been focussed on farm life, on Tuesday I met Margaret Bailey at the Hayfield Over 60s group, she introduced another view of the countryside...

Margaret Bailey with her embroidery

The Depression in the 1930s created mass unemployment and for many people the only release was to get out into the countryside for cheap and healthy exercise. The northern moors were strictly preserved for grouse shooting and this lead to demands for access and protest meetings in the Winnats Pass at Castleton and elsewhere. These protests lead to a mass trespass from Hayfield on to Kinder in 1932 and the subsequent imprisonment of some of the ramblers.

The Second World War intervened before legislation could be enacted but in 1949 the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed by Parliament. (from 'The History of the ranger service)

Margaret is a soft speaker and very modest, her reminiscences about the trip to the Palace was whispered...

'I joined the Rangers office when the land was made open to the public. The Rangers were there to make sure the Bill Laws were followed, and that was me, the first woman ranger.

I even found the fin of an unexploded bomb, poking out of the peat up there. They’d come on the moor  to to deal with it with no food, no drink- their excuse- the cookhouse was closed! They came up the hill so hot and thirsty. They exploded it, it was awful, smelly, a thick smoke, I cried- it left a great hole in the peat, a desecration of the moor. I tried to push the peat back with my feet, a lot of it up there is just bare peat, so beautiful.

It was a wonderful job, I was supposed to stop at 65, but they were so pleased with me I went onto 70. I loved it. Went to the Palace with my husband, met the Queen (lucky it wasn’t Prince Charles) she said ‘and what do you do?’ I had all these witty things to say, but they all went whoosh out of my mind. An MBE, it could have been any of the Rangers…

My favourite spot? On top of Williams Clough, you are no longer earth bound.

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