Activists chose Redhill railway sidings because it contains a beautiful rewilded woodland area loved by local people for nearly 90 years, abundant in wildlife, now fenced off and under threat of development.
During the protest the activists collected litter, carried out a bird species survey and stopped at points to read poetry.
The action was organised in support of the Right to Roam campaign to push for the open spaces of England and Wales to be opened up for public access.
‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Property’ signs were replaced with ‘Everybody Welcome’ placards along with a letter for the landowner. The letter points out that the public are excluded from 92 per cent of the land in England, unlike Scotland and many countries across Europe.
The letter says: "To see a registrable effect on our nation’s health, to alleviate the pressure on the NHS, we need to access nature regularly, which means we need it near to our homes. This past 12 months of lockdown have been a clear indicator that our physical and mental health relies heavily on regular access to the outdoors. Wherever we live, whatever our income, whoever we are, the right to access nature should belong to us all."
Spokesperson, Julie Dean, said: "We have freedom to roam over just eight per cent of England, and only three per cent of rivers in England and Wales.
"There are so few places like this left that we can walk and see a natural landscape, it is ridiculous that we can’t walk there now without trespassing."
In April 1932, some 400 young men and women trespassed on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire, a peaceful protest against the way the general public were denied access to the UK countryside. The local action was also a protest in the wake of recent proposals by the government to make intentional trespass a criminal offence, threatening ramblers, campers, and the marginalised travelling community.
"This was a huge reminder of what we’re desperately missing in our lives - that connection with wildlife and the freedom to wander in nature," said Julie.
"This action stands against vandalism in the countryside or disruption of ecosystems and farming. Instead we’re trying to start a conversation with landowners about how the public might have a closer connection to the nature we so badly need and how this could reignite a nationwide care for the protection of our environment.
"As stated previously, we understand for many, the countryside is a place of work and must be respected as such, and we hope that with more access and appreciation, as seen in other countries, that respect can grow."