Counting the counties

Have you ever been seized with a mad desire to see thirteen British counties in a single day? No? Just me?

In another vaguely interesting section on the BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys, Michael Portillo visited Broadway Tower. This is a curious, three sided folly on the top of Broadway Hill. Broadway Hill is the second highest point in the Cotswolds, rising to 312 metres above sea level. The tower is another 17 metres high, providing a commanding view 329 metres above sea level.

On visiting, Mr Portillo was clearly disappointed to learn that the ‘Saxon’ tower describes the architectural style rather than the period of construction. It was built at the request of Lady Coventry and was designed by James Wyatt in 1794 and completed in 1799. Mr Portillo’s disappointed turned to joy on learning that, on a clear day, up to thirteen counties can be seen from the top. Some other sources suggest that the true figure is fourteen, but this is more a reflection of local government reorganisation than a geographic dispute.

The visible counties (with non-historic counties in italics) are (clockwise from the north):

  •          West Midlands
  •          Staffordshire
  •          Warwickshire
  •          Leicestershire
  •          Northamptonshire
  •          Buckinghamshire
  •          Wiltshire
  •          Gloucestershire
  •          Somerset (listed as Bath & North Somerset (Formally Avon))
  •          Gwent
  •          Herefordshire
  •          Worcestershire
  •          Dyfed
  •          Shropshire