The magazine of the Ramblers - Contact Ramblers Join Ramblers - link to

Kate Ashbrook - Martin Doughty obituary

kateonharterfellMartin Doughty, chairman of Natural England who died on 4 March, was proud to have been born just as the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 was passed. He was proud too that his father joined the Kinder Trespass in 1932. He was a true friend of the access movement and took every opportunity, limited by his many public duties, to walk the hills around his home, New Mills in Derbyshire. Every February he would be up on Bleaklow to see the hares in their white winter coats. He loved the natural environment.

martindoughtyUnder Martin’s chairmanship, the Peak District National Park Authority resolved to back access legislation, as opposed to voluntary access, in 1998: the only national park to do so. He was a founder member of the Countryside Agency board (1999 -2005) where he invented the term ‘eat the view’ for one of the agency’s projects, promoting locally-sourced food. He was outspoken in defence of wild countryside and people’s rights; he was critical of farmers who scarred and poached the landscape, and he was a keen advocate of public paths. A former leader of Derbyshire County Council, he was one of very few people who actually understood the arcane local authority funding system, and he argued that the money which government nominally gives to authorities for public rights of way (but which gets hijacked for other purposes) should be routed through Natural England to ensure it was spent on public paths.

As the first chairman of Natural England (and before that chairman of one of its founding bodies, English Nature) Martin was determined that the new body would not be dominated by scientists, but that it would fulfil the potential of its whole, wide, remit. His enthusiasm for a right of coastal access, which he saw as meeting many of Natural England’s aims, ensured that the organisation adopted this as one of its foremost campaigns. It is tragic that he did not live to see this dream implemented.

Kate Ashbrook is chairman of the Ramblers

Leave a comment






Join in walking discussions on the Ramblers forums. Click here.



Follow Walk Mag on Twitter