MORE than 100 peaceful protesters followed in the footsteps of 19th century rioters today, as they demonstrated against the proposed Oxford to Cambridge expressway.

The group, who fear the road would destroy the sensitive wildlife-rich wetlands of Otmoor, walked for miles around the so-called ‘seven towns of Otmoor’, carrying a symbolic garland and hearing songs from the Riot of Gollins band.

Residents of Otmoor and other lovers of the Oxfordshire countryside walked the boundaries of the unique rural jewel as a ‘celebration and a call to action to protect all of Oxfordshire’s countryside’.

The group said: “Embracing the spirit of the 1830 Otmoor Riots, when residents broke down and burned the enclosure fences, this peaceful protest has been organised to reaffirm everyone’s right to enjoy the landscapes, wildlife and villages of Oxfordshire.

“The walk celebrates all the endangered countryside along each of the three proposed corridors.”

Organiser Gail Sawyer Heather, from Horton-cum-Studley, said: “It’s gone really well. Obviously the weather made it a bit more challenging than we thought.

“But I think it has been incredibly moving and important. It has brought together people from all of the seven towns.

“We are walking in the footsteps of those people who fought the same fight.

“We do not want this expressway anywhere in this country. We do not have the land to throw away like that.”

On September 6, 1830, about 1,000 people walked the circumference of Otmoor, destroying every fence in their way, as agricultural labourers saw their income disappear as wetlands dried.