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The man who was never lost never went very far – GHB Ward

All of the events in 2019 start in the village in Holmesfield. Whilst it’s a lovely place and has several nice pubs, it was also the home to one of the original champions of access to open land GHB Ward.

Without GHB and those early pioneers we probably would not be able to run our events.

George Herbert Bridges or GHB or Bert Ward was born in the middle of Sheffield in 1876. In 1900 he put an advert in the Clarion newspaper for a walk around the highest hill in Derbyshire Kinder Scout. Back in those days you could walk around the plateau but the summit was private land.

On the back of this walk he formed the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers, the world’s first working class rambling club. This organisation became the chief organisation for campaigning for greater access in the Dark Peak. As early as 1907, 25 years before the famous mass trespass, they were organising walks across privately owned shooting moors.

In 1923 Ward was served an injunction to prevent him setting foot on land on the western, Hayfield side of the Kinder plateau which would have prevented him taking part in the mass trespass 9 years later.

Ward was also a Freemason. This may seem strange from a man who was a committed socialist. It however did give him access to some of the major local landowners.

Federation of rambling clubs were starting to form in northern cities like Liverpool and Manchester. In 1926 GHB was instrumental in forming a federation of the 18 Sheffield Rambling clubs.

A year later a meeting of all of the ramblers federations was held in Hope with the aim of forming a national body.

In 1931 another meeting was held at Longshaw Lodge, which had recently been purchased from the Duke of Rutland using an early version of crowdfunding. This established the National Council of Ramblers Federations, which in 1935 became the Ramblers Association.

In 1941 GHB retired to Storth Lodge on the edge of Holmesfield. Folks that entered the Brutal Tootle passed the entrance to this house.

Without the pioneering work of GHB we probably would not have had the access to the uplands we do at the moment.

Great advocacy work has been done locally to us by groups like Ride Sheffield and Peak District MTB, working with local landowners to improve access and help them maintain local trails.

The short MTB route below passes GHB Ward’s house and takes in several concessionary bridleways across the Eastern Moors Estate.