It is always exciting to get books through the post, even when they are ordered and expected. I never tire of pulling open those brown card envelopes from Amazon. But when it’s your own book – a pre-release – inside that envelope, and you hold it, cradle it, for the first time, reflecting on the months and years (of toil) it took to reach this stage, well, there is an edge to the frisson.
The book was The UK County Tops: 82 walks to reach the top of 91 historic counties, to give the tome its full title. It arrived earlier, winging its way southwards from the Cumbrian headquarters of Cicerone Press.
According to the blurb on Cicerone’s website, the book is an ‘inspiring guide’ (let’s hope so) to the county summits of the UK, ranging from 80-metre Boring Field in Huntingdonshire to 1343-metre Ben Nevis in Inverness-shire. It goes on: ‘Wherever you find yourself in the UK – among the Munros of Scotland, the fens of East Anglia, the rolling moors of the west-country or the suburban sprawl of a big city, there’s a county top on your doorstep waiting to be discovered.’ Quite!
The charm, I think, of the book is the diversity and peculiarity of its subject matter. The highest point in Kent is located in a back garden; the summit of Yorkshire rises on a live military firing zone, the zenith of Cornwall is the naughtily-named Brown Willy. What else? Cumberland’s Scafell Pike, ‘the Mecca of all weary pilgrims in Lakeland’; the barren, windswept Kinder Scout of Derbyshire, the scene of the Mass Trespass in 1932; Wiltshire’s Milk Hill, notable for its UFO sightings and crop circles; Aberdeenshire’s Ben Macdui, the haunt of the fearsome Grey Old Man of Macdui; the Table Mountain-esque landscape of County Fermanagh’s Cuilcagh.
And there’s more: the ‘four peaks’ of the UK – Slieve Donard (Northern Ireland), Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scafell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales); nine Munros, including Ben Lawers and Ben More Assynt; the honeypot summits of Dunkery Beacon (Somerset), Leith Hill (Surrey), Pen y Fan (Brecknockshire) and Silverhill (Nottinghamshire).
I’ll write more as publication approaches (September 15). The book is, however, already available on Amazon.