COLUMN: Peak District Chief Jim Dixon looks back on his 11 years in the Peak District

Peak Park chief Jim Dixon, picture by Jason Chadwick.
Peak Park chief Jim Dixon, picture by Jason Chadwick.

A central part of our mission in the national park is to help the public experience the spectacular landscapes, the distinctive rural way of life and nature close at hand.

It was fantastic to be part of the first areas of open land to be made available to walkers in 2004.

The Peak District was the first place in the country where the new ‘right to roam’ was introduced. I have always been aware of the historic significance of the access movement in the Peak District, where in 1932 one of the most important events in the history of the countryside took place when young men climbed from Hayfield to Kinder, to trespass on the moorlands, then closed to the public. Today, we have an excellent network of public paths, trails, access land, circular and other guided walks and places where the visiting public can experience their national park. In the future, I am excited that we will be able to develop this network further and make the Peak District accessible to everyone. Work is currently underway adding more traffic-free trails to our already excellent network. Inspired by the success of the Monsal Trail, the Prime Minister has given £5M to Derbyshire County Council and its partners for these new trails.

I have been delighted to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Derby, reflecting my contribution to tourism and the National Park. I am particularly proud because the University has an enviable reputation as the top centre for research and teaching on tourism in the UK. To mark 11 years in my job, I will be fundraising for Accessible Derbyshire, a new charity whose aim is to make visiting the Peak District easier for people with disabilities.

Details at www.accessiblederbyshire.org and www.justgiving.com/JAMES-DIXON15