News, views and guidebooks for walking, trekking and cycling
Cicerone author Jonny Muir was the first person to visit all the UK County Tops in one 5000-mile cycling and walking adventure, over a three-month period. He then wrote this adventure up into a guidebook where he shares his preferred routes, gradings and lots of incidental facts and figures for the high point of every county in the UK.
It would make a perplexing quiz question. What do the tundra plateau of the Cairngorms, a back garden on the southeast fringe of London and a military firing zone in the Pennines have in common? Answer: they are the locations of three of the UK’s historic ‘county tops’.
No hill list is quite like this one. No other is as diverse or, frankly, as wonderfully ridiculous. The only qualification is being the highest natural ground in a respective county, regardless of obscurity or reputation, be it Inverness-shire’s 1344m Ben Nevis or Huntingdonshire’s 80m Boring Field. In what other list of hills would these two contrary places be happy bedfellows? In between, the roll of county tops includes a wondrous array of high places that thrill the dreams of hillwalkers: Ben Lomond, Cuilcagh, Kinder Scout, Meikle Says Law, Merrick, Pen y Fan and Worcestershire Beacon, to name but a few.
Perhaps the UK county tops are the country’s finest hill list? Here is the case. They feature in all other ‘bagging’ lists, with Munros, Corbetts, Donalds, Grahams, the Welsh 3000ers, numerous Marilyns and island high points prominent among their ranks. Visit all the county tops and the adventurer will have travelled the length and breadth of the UK, from Cornwall to Shetland, Norfolk to Fermanagh.
It is this sheer diversity that makes the county tops so appealing: a snapshot of everything that is eccentric and wonderful about walking in the UK. Their conquest will take you into no less than ten of the UK’s National Parks: the Brecon Beacons, the Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Lake District, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the Peak District, Northumberland, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia.
Alex Staniforth is a 21-year old adventurer and ViewRanger ambassador from Cheshire and he will be attempting to summit the UK County Tops over a ten week period.
ClimbTheUK will be almost entirely human-powered, including a kayak journey across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, with the only motorised transport being ferries to Northern Ireland and the Scottish islands. Overall, Alex will cycle 4782 miles, hike and run 484 miles, and kayak 5 miles, with a combined altitude gain of over 380,000ft – the height of 13 Mount Everests.
Alex is a prolific charity fundraiser and will be using ClimbTheUK to support YoungMinds – the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people – and is encouraging as many people as possible to download his route in the ViewRanger app and join him on individual sections of the challenge.
Craig Wareham, CEO and co-founder of ViewRanger, said: “It’s going to be an incredibly tough challenge, but if anyone can pull it off, Alex can.”
Sponsor Alex’s challenge by donating to YoungMinds on his Just Giving Page.
Alex Staniforth is a 21-year old adventurer, fundraiser, endurance athlete, motivational speaker and ViewRanger ambassador from Cheshire. He continues to overcome adversity, inspiring others to achieve their full potential and make a difference. Learn more about Alex Staniforth: www.alexstaniforth.com. You will be able to follow Alex’s ClimbTheUk progress with ViewRanger’s live online tracker map.
ViewRanger is a free GPS navigation app used by millions of people around the world to plan, navigate, record and share their outdoor adventures. Combining the world’s best offline maps with easy-to-follow route guides and advanced GPS navigation features, ViewRanger is the ultimate adventure tool for anyone exploring the great outdoors. Learn more about ViewRanger: www.viewranger.com