ACTOR Maxine Peake urged people to continue fighting for their 'rights of way' as she joined the launch event celebrating the 125th anniversary of Bolton's fight to walk up Winter Hill.

Maxine, who was born in Westhoughton, joined an open meeting via Zoom to hear more about the historical event and how the fight to enjoy the open countryside continues to this day ­­—with warnings on how 'rights' to enjoy the open countryside are hugely curtailed.

Up to 10,000 people marched in the Winter Hill Trespass of 1896 to reclaim their right of way, after landowner Colonel Richard Ainsworth of Smithills Hall closed off a well-used track that crossed his land on the slopes of Winter Hill, so he could pursue his love of game shooting uninterrupted.

But although the trespass was much bigger than the well known Kinder Scout trespass in Derbyshire, Bolton's fight ­— which remains Britain's biggest rights of way dispute ­— was largely forgotten until

Bolton historian and author Paul Salveson published his Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’? The 1896 battle for Winter Hill in 1982. The first commemorative march took place in the same year, with Westhoughton-born Maxine joining the hundreds who took part as an eight-year-old.

This year, the town will mark the anniversary with ­— subject to covid restrictions ­— local people invited on September 5 to follow in the footsteps of those who marched more than a century ago.

Maxine said: "In 1982, I was eight when I went on my first commemorative trespass with my step-grandfather Jim Taylor.

"We had Paul's book ' Will Yo' Come O' Sunday Mornin'' on the bookshelf.

" I have such strong memories of that event. It was the first time I had been on a mass sort of event with so many people.

"I remember the camaraderie and the spirit of that event and just the atmosphere. I think it was my first sort of political awakening of knowing what people did and what we can still do.

"We still have to fight for our right of way, it's not gone away, I think it is so important we keep the memory of Winter Hill alive and just to say to everybody lets get out there again, lets keep fighting for our right to roam, lets keep fighting for our spaces.

"Now more than ever people need the countryside people need that escape, obviously as we have seen with covid.

"I still go up Rivington two to three times a week. It's great to see families out there. It feels more families are experiencing the countryside for the first time and making the countryside more diverse and more accessible for everybody. Long may our country side and our right to roam continue."

Paul said: "Although the right of way over Winter Hill was lost for many years, it became difficult for people like Ainsworth to try and enclose land any more or close off footpaths, attempts were made but there were cries of 'we do not want another Winter Hill'."

It was 100 years later the path from Coal Pit Road over Winter Hill was registered as a public right of way.

To watch the meeting and hear talks from prominent authors on rights of way ­—Guy Shrubsole and Nick Hayes and Dr Katrina Navickas ­— visit