Harry Jenkinson, Right to Roam

“When you step over that barrier, and especially when there’s hundreds of people and you’re having a great time, you realise how much we’re missing out on, and you’re actively reclaiming, acting as if you’re already free. And that’s a wonderful thing, I think, for human beings, recognising that we are part of a wider ecosystem.” – Harry Jenkinson

Harry is a trespasser, activist, campaigner, public speaker, community organiser, lobbyist, educator and radical imaginer with Right to Roam.

Growing up in a village miles from Cambridge, in the East of England, Harry learnt that there was so little land that we can actually access. Our countryside has been so cultivated – ploughed and misused over the years – that today there are few places we can go legally.  Trespassing has become a way to access nature, and get out beyond the country lanes. Through this, Harry has developed a really close connection with nature, and in turn realised that there is something deeply wrong and unfair with how excluded people are from nature. 

Harry has learnt from indigenous wisdom across the world what it means to have incredibly close connections with nature. Indigenous people belong to the land that they inhabit, whether or not they own the legal rights to it. These experiences have taught Harry that we very much belong to nature, as part of nature. Taking inspiration from the mass trespass tradition in this country, campaigns are often more about celebrating the land than protesting. Having picnics, playing music, it is an honour and a privilege to go all over the country, network with so many people and just realise just how beautiful the countryside is. And that’s basically what Harry is working towards: a reimagined, new English countryside, with free, fair and informed access to nature for everyone. He envisions a utopian future where humans up and down the country can engage with nature and get along together. 

Harry emphasises that you don’t need to go far to see wide scale positive changes. Just across the border in Scotland, they have clean rivers, and people can access them. Harry believes imagination is incredibly important. You need to imagine a better world in order to get there. Anyone can imagine a dystopian world – we’ve always had those experiences. It’s far more interesting, radical, exciting and positive to imagine a better future. Harry sees in young people a yearning to be human and just play in nature, and with one another. It’s very much part of who we are, and action breeds action, that in turn breeds resilience, hope, optimism and eventually change. Yes it can be challenging, but Harry has been phenomenally delighted at how supportive people have been so far. To see people of all ages doing their best, encouraging one another, is delightful. Hope and solidarity with one another is something we can all share, across the lines that divide us.