Back in the day, I had a 40×40 list, a list of 40 things to do before I was 40. Well I turned 40, and upgraded the list. One of the things on that new list was – finish the old list! One of the things on that list? Visit every ceremonial county in England
If Wiki is to be believed, and why wouldn’t you believe them, there are 48 Ceremonial Counties of England.
They are distinct from just normal counties, which tend to be administrative in nature, in that they represent areas as they were prior to 1974, before the Government started playing about with names and boundaries. There are also less of them than regular counties – therefore making this challenge a little easier. Not, unfortunately, easy enough to complete before my 40th, so it has been carried over to the new list.
When I initially came up with the idea to add this to the list, I had grand plans of days out on the train, or bussing to new cities. In fact I was able to tick three counties off in one day, just by travelling to Uni – although Bristol doesn’t really count, what with me living there, and I had to walk the whole half a mile to South Gloucestershire to catch the bus anyway. That then took me to Somerset (Bath is technically in BANES; Bath and North East Somerset, but for the purpose of this task I totally got to tick off Somerset!)
As I had, in essence, given myself 3 counties for free, I chose to do the rest of the challenge properly. While in my youth I had visited a lot of England: the Lake District, Middlesbrough, Shrewsbury, London, Hull, …but none of these counted as I would need to visit them after declaring my intention to visit, if you see what I mean. You can’t go around adding stuff to your Bucket List and then saying “already done that” and ticking it off. That kind of skulduggery is only allowed on household to-do lists. (It is acceptable, for example, to list the jobs you have already done, cross them out and then add ‘drink coffee’ to the list and then take the rest of the day off. Laundry can always wait… in fact if you wait long enough the kids grow out of it and you don’t have to wash it at all #TrueStory)
My list pretty much stayed at those 3 lone counties until my Mum, Pat, whisked me off to Birmingham to see Wet,Wet Wet. This not only enabled me to tick West Midlands off the county list, but also allowed me to tick ‘see a large music concert’ off .
Later that same month we travelled to Reading on the train, it was a stopover on our way to Gatwick, but as we got off the train and made footfall in the county, I was able to add Berkshire to my ‘visited’ list, even if it was for about 30 minutes. Once we got to the airport I was also able to tick off West Sussex. We then went off to Prague, but that is a whole other task that I no doubt write up at some point.
My eldest daughter, Harri, has a boyfriend who lives in Chippenham, which makes ‘dropping her off at Jack’s house’, a three county trek. However, we had always just stayed in the car while she jumped out, and came home again. We decided to ‘treat’ ourselves to a McDonalds on one of our drop-off missions, and as it is well know what happens at the drive in we decide to get out of the car. On making that all important footfall we were able to tick Wiltshire off the list.
And these were the only counties that got ticked off before the end date of my challenge… so, of course, it got carried over.
In April 2017 we went to Japan – which, obviously isn’t a county in England, but it did require us going to Heathrow and ticking off Greater London
( I have just realised all the back linking I will need to do once I finally get round to writing up all of my 40×40 challenges! I don’t half like making extra work for myself!)
2018 has been a great year for county ticking:
There was Dorset, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire all in one weekend, although Oxfordshire was a stopover at Bicester services for coffee, so I intend going back to see the place properly at some point.
And with full props to Wiki, here is the full list:
The following are the 48 ceremonial counties of England, as presently defined:
- Bedfordshire, consisting of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton
- Buckinghamshire, including Milton Keynes
- Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
- Cheshire, consisting of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington
- City of London[N 2]
- Cornwall, including the Isles of Scilly
- Derbyshire, including Derby
- Devon, including Plymouth and Torbay
- Dorset, including Bournemouth and Poole
- Durham, including Darlington, Hartlepool, and Stockton-on-Tees north of the River Tees
- East Riding of Yorkshire, including Kingston-upon-Hull
- East Sussex, including Brighton and Hove
- Essex, including Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock
- Gloucestershire, including South Gloucestershire
- Greater London, excluding the City of London
- Greater Manchester
- Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton
- Isle of Wight
- Kent, including Medway
- Lancashire, including Blackburn with Darwen, and Blackpool
- Leicestershire, including Leicester
- Lincolnshire, including North Lincolnshire, and North East Lincolnshire
- North Yorkshire, including Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, York, and Stockton-on-Tees south of the River Tees
- Nottinghamshire, including Nottingham
- Shropshire, including Telford and Wrekin
- Somerset, including Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset
- South Yorkshire
- Staffordshire, including Stoke-on-Trent
- Tyne and Wear
- West Midlands
- West Sussex
- West Yorkshire
- Wiltshire, including Swindon
My list is currently a bit ‘south’ heavy, but as our car isn’t particularly reliable we worry about going too far in it. Maybe my initial train and bus idea wasn’t such a bad one?
Which county should I visit next? Any great places I really need to see? Let me know in the comments.