Tony Drake, path protector, 1923-2012

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We are sad to report that our long-standing member Tony Drake has died aged 89. Tony was a walker and mountaineer; for decades he campaigned for public paths, especially in his home county of Gloucestershire and in Wales.

Tony was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the only child of Leslie and Gladys Drake. He inherited the family’s department store in the 1970s but soon sold it to spend more time outdoors, working on paths or walking in Wales or the Alps.

From 1949, when the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed, he helped to record public paths for the new definitive maps, securing many routes for posterity. He was the Ramblers’ footpath secretary for Gloucestershire for decades, and served on the association’s national executive committee for 28 years. He was a member of the Open Spaces Society’s Hambutts Field management committee for our land at Painswick on the Cotswold escarpment, from 1983 to 1998.

Tony was a pioneer of the Cotswold Way, from Chipping Campden to Bath, and he invented the Cambrian Way, a magnificent route which winds its way for 275 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, taking in the highest and wildest parts of Wales—sadly it has never been designated an official national trail. He was a long-serving member of the Youth Hostels Association Welsh regional council and devised and waymarked many routes between hostels. He was an expert on the design of stiles and gates. He achieved a great deal for walkers, riders and cyclists, and his knowledge of path law and practice was extensive.

Eugene Suggett has written a splendid obituary for the Guardian.

Tony Drake

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