Heights of Madness

Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point in Worcestershire

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.

Brown Clee Hill, the summit of Shropshire

West Lomond, the zenith of Fife

Morven, the roof of Caithness

Pen y Fan, Brecknockshire’s highest point

Silverhill, the (disputed) high point of Nottinghamshire

Carn Eige, the summit of Ross and Cromarty

Snowdon, the highest point in Caernarvonshire (and Wales)

The Cheviot, Northumberland

Trostan, the top of County Antrim

Holyhead Mountain, Anglesey








5 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom says:

    Great idea Jonny. Looking forward to reading this book. Could be useful for some clever quiz questions me thinks…Keep up the blog posts.

  2. Paul says:

    Looks like a smashing book. Know where I can get hold of a review copy for our website?

  3. murraynolan says:

    Surely a great way to discover your land. I look forward to reading you blog posts.

  4. just read the book.. as i started it i explained to my partner what you were doing.. ‘Great idea’ he said. It was wonderful to read about places we have been too and places we have yet to visit. thankyou

    1. heightsofmadness says:

      Thanks Debbie. I hope you enjoyed the book. There are probably some places in there you would choose not to visit!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s