The final founder members of Kenilworth’s renowned footpath group have waved farewell to fellow walkers after 41 years of dedication.
Husband and wife Brian and Maureen Nicol helped found the fledgling Kenilworth Footpath Preservation Group (KFPG) back in 1974.
Over 40 years on, the thriving club has gone from strength to strength and is now responsible for 100 miles of footpaths, signs and access across Warwickshire.
Stepping down, the pair - who have been on the committee since the start - said they are happy to see the baton passed to other members keen to take the club forward.
At a farewell presentation, Brian and Maureen said that they will miss their many friends made over the years.
The now popular group started when the keen walkers moved to Kenilworth in 1973 and were disappointed to find very little upkeep on the surrounding walking paths.
Keen to clear obstructions and open up the ancient paths around the castle and beyond for others, they wasted no time in calling a public meeting which was so well attended that the KFPG was born.
Maureen Nicol described it as “tremendous enthusiasm” with around 50 people keen to sign up and get volunteering.
The KFPG now has help from Warwickshire County Council to maintain rights-of-way and stiles and bridges.
But Brian said that it was not so easy from the start with no funding or support meaning members were left to start from scratch identifying routes, building stiles and bridges and cleaning and waymarking paths.
This meant members often relied on building sites and scrap yards for wood to create signs, and bridges over streams and ditches were made from railway sleepers.
Brian told the KWN: “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.”
The group was also one of the first in the country to use the now familiar blue and yellow arrows on signposts.
After realising the best way to keep paths open was to get walkers out, they began publishing walks in the KWN.
By 1977, the club had published its first book of walks which has had five editions and sold 30,000 copies to date.
The latest, Kenilworth and Beyond, covers 22 walks.
The KFPG was voted Rambler Association’s Group of the Year and won Warwick District Council’s environmental award. It was also nominated for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and Brian was made Rotary Citizen of the Year in 2005.
Visit them online at www.kenilworthfootpaths.org.uk