An eloquent letter to the the Huddersfield Chronicle dated 20th May 1865 (found on the excellent Huddersfield Exposed site) goes to show there really is nothing new under the sun. The author “one of the footpath lovers” laments the blocking of paths in Dungeon Wood (Lockwood,Huddersfield) by a railway company. The author’s words are as relevant today as a 150 years ago.
Without footpaths and bridlepaths “the working man would be buried in cotton dust ten and a half hours a day and road dust the remainder” says the footpath lover before describing paths as “the working man’s parks” and warning “the time is fast coming when the footpath through the green and verdant sloping hills will be the only chance we shall have left to view nature in her loveliest garb, and breath her pure and healthy odour”.
We may have swapped mills for sedentary work at computer screens and today’s Victorian working conditions of zero hours contracts and minimum wages but the sentiments remain as poignant as ever after all this time. Access to the countryside is not a luxury we can’t afford but an essential element of a rounded human existence.
And like the “footpath lover” from Lockwood says if we don’t as a society protect them “we have only ourselves to blame”