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Woodcraft Folk Districts joined the largest land rights project for a generation

On Saturday 21st January, members from several Woodcraft Folk Districts joined the largest land rightsprotest for a generation.

Organised by Right to Roam and The Stars are for Everyone, around 3000 people gathered in the village of Cornwood to march up on to Dartmoor in response to the high court decision to remove the presumed legal right to wild camp on the moor after it was challenged by a wealthy landowner.

Up until Friday 13th January, Dartmoor was the only place in England where wild camping, without asking for the landowners permission, was legal. Dartmoor National Park have since struck a deal with landowners to allow wild camping on some areas of the moor which will see the cash strapped DNP pay landowners an unknown amount of tax payers money for the privilege. As this is a permissive agreement the permission to camp can be withdrawn if landowners change their mind.

The new wild camping agreement also permits camping on 18% less of the commons than the previous
presumed legal right. Members from Bristol, Exeter and Hornsea were at the march, plus several former members came over to talk to participating groups to say it was great to see Woodcraft Folk there.

As requested by the organisers, those who attended parked in Ivybridge and walked to the meeting point at Cornwood, where writer and activist Guy Shrubsole told the story of Old Crockern, legendary spirit and protector of the Moor. The march then set off up to the open moor led by a samba band. Due to the huge numbers of people who had come along, it took a while for everyone to assemble on the hillside for more speeches followed by the call to raise Old Crockern to defend the Moor again.

Anne Draper, from Woodcraft Folk Bristol Venturers who attended the march, said:

“The whole event was really well organised especially as it had been put together in less than a week. It
was a beautiful winters day and so good to see people of all generations coming together to express their
love of Dartmoor and disgust at the erosion of our rights. On the walk back down the hill a group from a choir in Bristol taught us a song which we’ll be passing on at our spring camp”.

Right to Roam will be organising other events this year but for now would like anyone who supports the
campaign to write to their MP here– a group night activity perhaps?

You can find a copy of the song below.

The law condemns the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common,
But leave the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose.
The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own,
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.
(repeat first verse)
The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break.
That must be so, but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.
(repeat first verse)
The law condemns the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common,
But geese will still a common lack
Until they go and steal it back

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