Team looks after 100 miles of footpaths

The next time you walk down a perfectly manicured footpath in and around Kenilworth consider the efforts of volunteers who have worked hard to keep it that way.

The clear footpaths we know and use well are largely kept in their neat states by a group of volunteers who call themselves the Kenilworth Footpath Preservation Group.

If there is one thing that has definitely improved in Kenilworth over the years it is the state of the public rights of way.

The group was launched after a public meeting in 1974.

Brian Nicol, founder member and chairman of the group, said: “People walking the paths today would find it difficult to imagine the state they were in at that time. Due to lack of signs and stiles and blockages most paths were difficult to find, let alone walk easily.”

According to Brian, no-one in authority at that time was ‘interested in the paths’ so the group had to start from scratch identifying routes, building stiles and bridges and cleaning and waymarking paths.

Maureen Nicol, another founder member, said: “There was a tremendous enthusiasm at two public meetings each attended by about 50 people many of whom volunteered practical help to improve the path network.”

Over the years the group has gradually extended its work into surrounding parishes and now maintains about a 100 miles of public footpaths and bridleways.

Celia Waring, who is responsible for the group’s book sales, said the group produced its first photo-copied book of walks in 1977.

The latest fifth edition, Kenilworth and Beyond - Country Walks, has had to be reprinted after 18 months making total sales since the beginning of around 15,000 copies.

Archie James, a long-standing member said: “The current work is in accord with the county policy of opening up access to the countryside to the less agile and gradually stiles are being replaced by gates including bridge gates.”

Another member, Rosemary James, added that the ladies in the group were responsible for waymarking and path clearance.

She said: “The group was one of the first in the country to use the familiar blue and yellow arrows.”

Keen member Howard Easton is responsible for the group website and the finger posts that are gradually being installed.

He said: “Me and my partner Christine are glad to take an active part in maintaining the paths that will be of increasing importance to people in years to come.”

The group is always on the lookout for new members to join its monthly working parties.

To find out more about the group contact Brian Nicol on 854930 or log on to:

www.kenilworthfootpaths.org.uk.