The story of Heights of Madness -
In May 2006, I swapped the nine-to-five grind for the freedom of the open road, with the incredulous words of my boss ringing in my ears. I had the last laugh, for three months later I had criss-crossed the United Kingdom in an epic 5,000-mile journey.
Heights of Madness is the story of that odyssey: a continuous cycling and walking adventure between the summits of the UK’s 92 counties. Starting in Cornwall and finishing in Inverness-shire 92 days later, I cycled 4,400 miles and walked another 600 miles, scaling the equivalent of 14 Mount Everests.
As well as climbing some of the UK’s most famous and revered peaks, including Ben Lomond, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Slieve Donard, Snowdon and Worcestershire Beacon, it was a trip that took me to a back garden in Kent, across a live military firing zone in Yorkshire and along perilous ridges in the Highlands.
Not only is Heights of Madness a celebration of mountains, hills and high places, it is proof that there are wondrous adventures to be had on our doorstep.
It is also an insight into why I was prepared to sacrifice a career, a girlfriend, and all that was familiar, in pursuit of a wild ambition, baffling as many people as it inspired.
Heights of Madness was published by Metro Books in August 2009.
Acclaim for Heights of Madness -
He wanted to prove to himself that it could be something anyone can achieve, without having to travel to the farthest corners of the globe. This is a quietly inspirational and often funny account of his adventures in his homeland. Clover Stroud, Sunday Telegraph.
What is clear when reading Heights Of Madness, is that it is the pulsating sense of adventure and the thrill of just being alive – whether soaked to the skin in a bog or bathed in sunlight on a dappled moor – that willed him on. The book is also Jonny’s love letter to his homeland – the eccentric characters he encounters and the breath-taking sweep of countryside he surveys from its summits. Asha Mehta, Peterborough Evening Telegraph.
This is no guide book: there are no ‘go 300 yards from the third cairn’ instructions to the tops and the writing is refreshingly light. So many books by outdoor luminaries can seem ponderous and pedestrian and this 300-page paperback avoids such pitfalls. Think: Pete McCarthy and Tony Hawks with a smattering of Brysonesque pithiness.’ Bob Smith, Grough.
It is, to use one of Jonny’s words, a “minimalistic” account of a truly epic adventure that no-one would have even thought about, never mind considered undertaking. Amazon reviewer.