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Happy birthday Peak District National Park, 66 years old today. Quite a lot has happened since the founding.

The ranger is possibly the most visible aspect of the Park to the public, unless you are wanting planning permission for a new all singing extension with helipad.

It’s nice being a ranger, it’s not all about dogs on leads and picking litter up; when will people take their litter home with them? It’s also about education and helping people get as much enjoyment out of the park as they can. It has probably changed a lot over the years and listening to the stories my fellow shift rangers tell, most of whom have well over 40 years service, it was a lot more exciting back then.

It must have seemed like a whole new world opening up. A national park, the Pennine Way, ski slopes and toboggan runs, all this after years of war and austerity.

The national parks came out of politics and war. After years of struggle for access, the war to end all wars, depression, world war two, the clamour for a better world was too great to ignore. The National Parks were created in the same heady atmosphere as the Welfare State and the National Health Service. It must have seemed like a dream to many. As if finally the ordinary person was being given a chance to breathe.

At the beginning it was the Peak Park, you can still find millstones with it on. Then at some point, some say in the 70’s, the word District was added; I like to think it was because the marketing gurus; never trust a man in a check suit, thought they needed to add the word District to compete with the Lake District, which had a lot of the limelight.

The Peak District is one of the most visited national parks in the world, mainly because of the cities that surround it. It is also the only national park in the world that can be seen at night from space, on account of it been ringed in light from the surrounding conurbations. The Peak District shows up as a black hole ringed with light.

It continues to evolve. Much has changed since those early days. Landowners were draining the moors, now Moors for the Future are making them wetter again. Back then there was a great public transport infrastructure, now there are demands for more car parks. Walking, cycling, caving and climbing were the things to do back at the beginning. Now its bouldering, fell running, hang gliding, paragliding, mountain biking, geocaching and much more I guess.

I always get a feeling of contentment when out in the park. It is a physical sense of wellbeing, that plays on the senses and makes the world a better place. That’s as good a reason I can think of for keeping them.