‘Needs more pubs’


Another review, this time from The Travel Editor. The reviewer loved the book (apart from a lack of pubs, it seems); I loved the review.

The UK’s County Tops

Pros: delightfully daft idea

Cons: needs more pubs

Verdict: superb travelwriting project

Ranging from the 80m Boring Field in Huntingdonshire to the 1344m Ben Nevis in Inverness-shire, the 91 highest points in the old counties of Great Britain are a wonderfully weird collection of places to visit. Jonny Muir has done them all, carefully noted “how enjoyable” each one was and taken a photograph while he was there. Then the has compiled them all into this book.

This is proper travel writing and I am humbled. Nothing to do with selling adverts, mentioning clients or repaying some PR’s hospitality here. The bloke has had a daft idea and gone out, travelling the entire UK to do it. The walks must have taken him days and days. Then you read inside that he actually did it in one continuous trip… wait for it, on a bicycle.

In true Cicerone style The County Tops is nicely produced but a bit straight-laced. This is a great fun project and I’d like more of the oddities and fun along the way. Jonny evidently did an earlier book telling the story of his trek round the UK but that’s no excuse for not spicing these average collection of walks with some real travel colour.

Nevertheless, it’s the idea that is captivating. You can’t help browsing through all the counties and seeing the daft unloved hillocks that are the highest points in most of them. 

Jonny has put them into a walking book format, so each ‘top’ is part of a walk route. There’s a small snatch of OS mapping to help plan your way but you probably wouldn’t take the book on the walk, it’s just a rough outline. You’d be totally daft, for example, marching up Ben Nevis clutching a copy of this. But then, Jonny is undoubtedly as daft as a brush and almost as daft as me. I loved his book.

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