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A short History of our Group

The Group was formed in 1975 by the late Dennis Thoms. Because Dennis was finding it difficult to negotiate many of the public rights of way in the Gordano Valley area, many of the routes being blocked by barbed wire, undergrowth, broken or non-existent stiles etc., he realised that these footpaths were not being used for the public good and recreation as they should be. He therefore proceeded to advertise an inaugural meeting for those who may wish to walk the local paths and help maintain them. It was suggested at this inaugural meeting that an organised Group be set up and put on an official footing. After discussion the name Gordano Footpath Group was adopted and a committee formed.

At that initial meeting it was found that the majority of those present were not aware of the exact location of the public local rights of way (this was before OS published the ‘Pathfinder Series’ maps). The Group then set about organising and leading local walks to show exactly where the paths were and if there were obstructions, arranging working parties to clear paths and repair stiles.

From that initial meeting of about 25 interested people the Group membership has risen to approximately 200 today.

Our walking interests have also spread afar. Many walks have been undertaken within a day’s travelling distance e.g. The Mendip Hills, Quantocks, Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean. Walking weekends away have been spent in Devon, Dorset, the Gower, etc., and a walking holiday has recently been taken in Austria. We have walked the Cotswold Way, the West Mendip Way and part of Offas Dyke. Nevertheless, our hearts are in Gordano and many of our walks are local.

We have established good relations with many of the local farming community, showing we care for their farming interests, encouraging walkers to keep to rights of way where appropriate and not deliberately trespass; always observing the current ‘Country Code’. Close collaboration is also maintained with the local authority (North Somerset Council) and local parish councils, the Ramblers Association, Avon Wildlife Trust and other local footpath groups.

Most of the public rights of way in the Gordano area are now accessible, thanks to the initial onslaught and hard work of the Group, organised by Dennis Thoms, and are now kept free and maintained by members of the Group, mostly when they are pre-walking a programmed walk. Any task too onerous is reported the local authority for action.

Thus we retain our close links with the interesting and delightful Gordano Valley area, maintaining our access to the countryside by public rights of way, organising and leading walks to appreciate our local heritage and beautiful countryside.

Our former Chairman, Dennis Thoms, died in 1982 and a memorial ‘Waymarking Stone’ has been placed on the Tickenham Ridge not far from Cadbury Camp.