Dartmoor wild camping protesters ‘defiant’ as they march in their thousands and summon “Old Crockern”

More than 3,000 protesters gathered in Cornwood, near Ivybridge, before marching on Dartmoor to show their anger at a new High Court rule banning wild camping on Dartmoor. Campaigners congregated at the War Memorial in Fore Street.

[Crockern Tor is said to be the home of the mythical Old Crockern, variously described as a spectral figure on horseback, galloping across the moor on a skeleton horse with his phantom hounds which were stabled at nearby Wistman’s Wood; or as a local god of the moor in pre-Christian times]

Amber Edwards www.plymouthherald.co.uk 

A campaign group called The Stars are for Everyone said: “3,000 people have come to become part of this historic movement. Here we stand. Defiant, hopeful, and powerful.”

Since the High Court’s decision, landowners have agreed to allow wild camping on most of Dartmoor without permission, they are said to be paid an ‘unknown sum’ by the park. However, Right to Roam campaigners have called it a “stitched up deal”.

The group is unhappy that the “already cash-strapped national park” have to pay the landowners for “granting such permissions”.

The protest event is taking place this afternoon [Saturday] between 1.30pm and 5pm. The village situated on the edge of Dartmoor will be filled by the sounds of drumming during part of the ceremony and musicians are also said to be attending.

The group posted on their Twitter page: “We’ll see you tomorrow for the first of many acts of resistance against this new enclosure. We summon Old Crockern to our side: the ancient spirit of Dartmoor. He has risen before to put the avarice of an arrogant landowner in check – may he do so again!”

An open invitation has been extended to all for the protest today (Saturday, January 21). People are being told that they are welcome to bring something small or large that they can make a drumming sound with.

On its event page, Right to Roam said: “Old Crockern represents the values that sit within our campaign and those that embody Dartmoor: inclusivity, freedom, growth, relationship and humanity.”

They added: “Our right to be in nature should not be the plaything of the landowning elite. It is not something to be stripped away by legal theatrics, nor negotiated for a doff of the cap. It is our collective inheritance; a birthright which brokers our connection to the land and the stars.”

Right to Roam is aiming to extend the Countryside & Rights of Way Act in England so that millions more people can have easy access to open space.