MAXINE Peake, who counts ‘hill walking, protest and the north’ as some of her ‘favourite things’ will be helping to launch events to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Winter Hill Trespass in her home town next month.

Known as the UK’s biggest ever rights of way dispute, the Bolton born actor will be among those at a public meeting ­— the first of whole host of events planned to mark the landmark moment in the ongoing issue of the right to roam in England

The meeting, chaired by Bolton FM’s Keith Harris, will feature a number of high profile speakers, including Prof Paul Salveson, an historian and writer for whose book Moorlands, Memories and Reflections, marking the centenary of Allen Clarke’s book Moorlands and Memories, Maxine has penned the foreword in which she wrote: “Hill walking, cycling, literature, philosophy, protest and The North…. these are a few of my favourite things.”

Martin Challender, part of the Winter Hill 125 group organising the events, said: “The Winter Hill Trespass of 1896 is recognised as Britain’s biggest ever rights of way dispute.

"It’s very much thanks to local historian, Paul Salveson and his pamphlet, Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’ that people know about this fascinating chapter of our local history.

"There’s already been lots of interest in the public meeting locally and nationally about Winter Hill celebrations.

"Over 80 people have already registered for the public meeting on Friday 12th March. Its great news that Maxine Peake has recently confirmed that she plans to attend. She is as passionate as we are about the fight by ordinary people to access the countryside, it is an issue which as relevant today as it was 125 years ago. ”

In September 1896, thousands of Boltonians marched up to Halliwell Road and on to Coalpit Lane to protest the closure of the moors for the grouse season by Colonel Ainsworth of Smithills Hall.

The trespass led to clashes between would-be walkers and Colonel Ainsworth’s gamekeepers over two weekends and led to legal action against those seen as the organisers. Although unsuccessful, the trespass was see as an important development in the long and as still unresolved issue of the right to roam in England, preceding the more famous Kinder trespass by 36 years.

The first commemoration of the trespass took place in 1982. The event was also celebrated in the centenary year of 1996. This time the path to the top of Winter Hill was declared a public footpath and a memorial stone placed at the top of Coalpit Lane.

The 125th anniversary will again be commemorated, covid permitting, on Sunday September 5th with a processional march up Halliwell Rd and a hike up to Winter Hill via Coalpit Lane. A series of community-based events are being planned to take place in the months preceding the anniversary, involving partners groups including the Woodland Trust, Bolton at Home, Live From Worktown, Bolton Socialist Club and various s community organisations.

To attend the meeting email