DURSLEY Rambling Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The group held its first walk 50 years ago in November 1968.

And to mark the occasion, the club has funded a new kissing gate which offers improved access to one of the area's popular footpaths.

A special anniversary walk was held, from Kingshill House, Dursley to the site of the new gate.

Walk leader for the day, Matt Welsh, is one of the club’s founder members and, at 86 years old, continues to lead walks regularly.

“If ever there was a testament to the health benefits of being in a rambling club, it’s Matt,” said club chair, Sarah Robinson.

The location of the new kissing gate near Folly Wood (at the junction of Dursley footpath 47 with 53) was chosen because it replaces an awkward stile and provides easy pedestrian access to a section of footpath which gives great views of Cam Peak, Long Down, Downham Hill and Uley Bury.

"Farmers Mr Dembrey and Mr Poultney kindly gave permission for the project to go ahead," said Ms Robinson.

The kissing gate was installed by the Cotswold Wardens, who are also marking their 50th anniversary this year. The work party included two wardens who are also Dursley Rambling Club members: Paul Hidden and Mick Thorpe.

After cutting the ribbon to unveil a commemorative plaque, the walkers returned to Kingshill House for afternoon tea where they were joined by other club members and guests. This included Peter Rennie, the club’s first chair, who, with a group of like-minded individuals, got the club going five decades ago.

Celebrations will continue next year, with club members walking the whole of the Cotswold Way in sections and holding an anniversary dinner.

Although 50 years young, the club continues to thrive. In addition to regular walks, it has a programme of social events and an annual walking holiday.

Members come from Dursley, Cam and surrounding settlements including Wotton, Charfield, Stroud, Berkeley and Malmesbury.

The walks cater for all abilities and vary from short walks locally to more strenuous day walks in areas such as the Black Mountains and the Malverns. The club is a friendly group and is always pleased to welcome new members.

Details: dursleyramblingclub@mail.com