a 3,500 mile, unsupported walk from Lands End to John O’ Groats passing through the highest point in each of the 84 historic counties of Britain.
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  135,000 m of ascent in the route
equivalent of climbing Everest 15 times
distance completed
5,583 km
tops completed
amount pledged to date
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Having completed several long distance charity walks across Britain I realised that there are vast areas of the countryside that I have bypassed in my travels through our green and pleasant land so I set about planning an adventure that would take me to all corners of the British mainland and allow me to experience its varied landscapes.

The division of England into shires, later known as counties, began in the Kingdom of Wessex in the 8th and 9th centuries.  The Scottish counties have their origins in the ‘sheriffdoms’ first created in the reign of Alexander I (1107-24).  Although there was a degree of fluidity in the areas of these early sheriffdoms, the boundaries that existed in the late medieval period are very close to those existing in the mid-nineteenth century. The present day pattern of the historic counties of Wales was established by the Laws in Wales Act 1535 and was based on the old traditional areas.

By the start of the 19th century the names and areas of all the historic counties of the United Kingdom had been fixed and universally accepted for many centuries. There were few reliably documented changes to the borders of the historic counties during the centuries before this.  The era of modern local government began with the passing of the Local Government Act 1888 which defined the administrative areas based on the county structure.  These administrative areas have evolved into the current unitary and county authorities we have today.  However over the years the present boundaries have changed from those in place before the act was passed which has led to confusion in the exact definition of an (historic) county.

The Historic Counties Trust have proposed a standard to define the terminology and the names, areas and borders of the historic counties.  They are campaigning for this standard to be adopted nationally. The standard uses boundaries based on the first Ordnance Survey large scale mapping of Britain which was completed in 1896.  It is this definition that I have used when planning my route.