Dick Hutchins—access man extraordinaire

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Dick Hutchins: born 28 April 1915, died 19 January 2013

 RN (Dick) Hutchins has died aged 97.  He was a member of the society since the 1930s—while studying law at the London School of Economics he learnt about the campaigns for the right to roam (then gathering a head of steam) which inspired him to join us.  He also joined the Ramblers in its foundation year, 1935, and walked in the countryside most weekends.

Dick Hutchins.

After the war, where he served as a staff officer in Britain and then in Sierre Leone, he became assistant solicitor to Derbyshire County Council.  When the seminal National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 was passed he wrote a learned commentary on it, which was published by Butterworths in 1950.  The book, with its foreword by the eminent king’s counsel Sir Norman Birkett, is still a valuable reference-book today.

Dick was responsible for Derbyshire’s survey of public paths under the 1949 act, recording nearly 3,000 miles of paths and claiming all the canal towpaths.  He also established the High Peak and Tissington trails in and around the Peak District.

As lawyer to the Peak District National Park Planning Board he did the legal work for access agreements for about 70 square miles of the park.  The access provisions of the 1949 act were barely implemented outside the Peak.  Half a century later Dick was delighted to attend the second reading in the House of Commons of the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill, on 20 March 2000, which gave much greater freedom to roam.

Dick walked the Pennine Way in 1952, after it had been approved by the Minister of Local Government and Planning, Hugh Dalton, but before any signs went up.  He wrote about it in our Journal of November 1952 and was a great advocate of this long-distance path, which was not to be opened for another 13 years.  He walked regularly to Kinder Downfall with another long-standing OSS member, the late Eddie Young.

The Edale valley from below Grindslow Knoll.

 Dick’s family were protestants from Bantry, near Cork, Ireland.  He loved the family home at Ardnagashel and returned to it often.  He leaves a son and a daughter and three grandchildren who have inherited his love of the outdoors.

You can read more about Dick on Kate Ashbrook’s blog.

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