Why 12 Celsius would be a record high temperature in the UK!

The hot and dry weather in the UK during June, July and early August in 2018 has got us all asking what the record high temperatures for our location are and whether we’ve been getting anywhere close to breaking them. The last blog looked at some of those records and showed that generally we didn’t quite break anything this year, so far! While we bask in the 30+ degrees heat it’s easy to forget the more typical ‘average’ conditions throughout the year, for in most summers and in most places we are excited if the temperature gets anywhere close to 30 Celsius.

So what is the average temperature in the UK? Well, there are figures for every month and every location, of course, but the average temperature across the year as a whole (as measured over a 30 year period from 1981-2010) is for most of us somewhere between 8 and 11 degrees Celsius – and that sounds pretty chilly compared to our record highs. And where is the warmest place on average? In the British Isles it is 11.6 Celsius, in the Isles of Scilly, and on the mainland it is 11.3 Celsius around Penzance in Cornwall. Actually, Jersey is warmer, at 11.9 Celsius, but this isn’t technically part of the British Isles or the UK. Generally the further south and west you are in the UK, the higher the average temperature will be, as the higher summer temperatures plus the heating effect in winter from the Gulf Stream on the west coast keeps things warmer. This all means that nowhere in the UK or the British Isles has an average temperature as high as 12 Celsius, at least at present – although who knows what global warming might do to these figures in the future

It’s interesting to look at differences in average temperatures within individual counties as well. Not surprisingly, the differences are largest in counties which have a wide range of altitudes, as the lowest average temperatures are in higher locations. Where the counties are smaller or are relatively ‘flat’ in elevation there is not usually much difference between places. Two examples show this well.

Derbyshire lies in the East Midlands of England, and stretches from the River Trent in the south to the moorland hills of the southern Pennines in the north. The warmest place, with an average temperature is 9.8 Celsius across the year, is in the south around the village of Willington, which stands on the River Trent 10km south west of Derby. The coldest place, in contrast, is the village of Chelmorton which stands at 355m above sea level on the limestone plateau of the White Peak, 8km south east of Buxton and is the highest village in Derbyshire. Its average temperature is 8 degrees Celsius.

The ceremonial county of Greater London has a very different ‘geography’ to Derbyshire, and has less variation in altitude. It is also quite a bit further south than Derbyshire, and at lower altitude overall. Although the highest temperature ever recorded in Greater London was 36.7 Celsius at Heathrow Airport on 1st July 2015, the average temperatures for the county are much lower. The warmest place on average in London is Westminster, as measured at the weather station in St James Park, where the average annual temperature is 11.2 Celsius. The coldest place on average is Biggin Hill, in the Borough of Bromley in the south east of London, where its location on the higher parts of the North Downs means its average temperature is 9.7 Celsius. So, central London is amongst the warmest places in the UK, and only slightly colder than the coast of Cornwall.

Where do you think the warmest and coldest places are in your own county, on average?

And Finally….!

The Must Get Out More Question !

Where is the longest section of straight road in the UK? 

The Answer to the Last Question

Where, and in which county, has the earliest evidence of human occupation in the UK been found?

The earliest evidence of human occupation in the UK is the hand axe found on the beach at Happisburgh (pronounced Hazebrough) in Norfolk in 2000. The Happisburgh Hand Axe has been dated to 600,000-800,000 years old, which is 200,000 years older than any other human evidence in the UK, and makes it the oldest evidence of human occupation anywhere north of the Alps in western Europe. In May 2013 researchers also found footprints preserved in the same beach sediments nearby, which have now been dated to 800,000 years old, and are therefore the oldest hominid footprints found outside Africa. The footprints were destroyed by the tide shortly after their discovery.(Grid Reference TG38543088)

The Record Locations

You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

Hot and Hotter

July 2018 has been a month of sunshine and high temperatures across the UK. For most people this has provided a rich mixture of pleasure and discomfort, and has underpinned our British pre-occupation with discussing the weather. In the last week of the month temperatures approached national record highs both overall and for the month of July, and the same had happened in the last week of June in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The record maximum temperatures recorded for the countries of the UK since records began are

England                38.5C     at Faversham, Kent on 10 August 2003

Wales                  35.2C     at Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire on 2 August 1990

Scotland              32.9C     at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003

Northern Ireland 30.8C  at Knockarevan (Co Fermanagh) on 30 June 1976, and at Belfast on 12 July 1983.

Two of these records came close to being broken in the summer heatwave this year. In Northern Ireland, Thomastown in Co Fermanagh reached 30.1C on 28 June, which is only 0.7C below the Province’s absolute record. And in Scotland a temperature of 33.2C was recorded at Motherwell in Lanarkshire, also on 28 June. This might look like a Scottish record, but the Met Office subsequently decided not to verify it as the measurement was deemed to be unreliable -a car had been parked with its engine running near to the thermometer at the time of the record high!

But what of our local records? Every county in the UK has its own set of weather records, with its hottest, coldest and wettest days and months on record. Some of these records are of very long standing –for example, the record temperature for Midlothian in Scotland is 32.2C recorded at Leith on 16 July 1876. Others, such as the UK national record at Faversham in Kent listed above, are much more recent. Local records may, of course, be national records, too.

East Sussex, in southern England, for example, is well known for having some of the warmest and sunniest weather conditions across the UK on average, and the county holds some of the UK’s extreme weather records. Brighton holds the record for the highest ever minimum temperature for any day, which was 23.9C on 3rd August 1990, during a significant long period of sunshine and high temperatures. The highest temperature ever recorded in East Sussex was also during the August 1990 heatwave –  on 4 August  a maximum of 34.6C was measured at both the Met Office weather station at Herstmonceux, just north of Eastbourne, and at Brede near to Hastings. Just along the coast, Eastbourne holds the UK record for the highest monthly sunshine total on record – 383.9 hours of sunshine in July 1911, or almost 12.4 hours every day on average. Such records explain in part why the Sussex coast is so popular with holidaymakers and day trippers in the summer.

At the opposite extreme of weather records, the ‘lowest’ high temperature records for counties in the UK are held in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. In the far north, the highest daily maximum temperature ever recorded in the Orkney Islands is 25.6C at Kirkwall on the 20 July 1901, which makes it the UK county with the lowest recorded maximum temperature. In the Western Isles the record maximum is 27.2C at Benbecula on 30 July 1948. The only other counties in the UK which have never recorded a temperature more than 30C are Shetland (27.8C), also in the Northern Isles of Scotland, and Londonderry (29.0C), Antrim (29.4C) and Down (29.5C) in Northern Ireland. No county in England or Wales has failed to record a maximum above 30C, although the Isles of Scilly, which are in the county of Cornwall but lie 45km off Lands End in the south west of England, have a highest recorded temperature of ‘only’ 27.8C at St.Mary’s, experienced once in 1932 and once in 1990. The moderating effect on the temperature of being surrounded by the cool seas of the North Atlantic is very clear, for the highest recorded temperature in Cornwall is 33.9C measured at Ellbridge (10km North west of Plymouth) on 28 June 1976.

How hot was July 2018 in your own home county, and how close was this to the county record? Local media stories on the internet will probably tell you.

 

And Finally….!

The Must Get Out More Question !

Where, and in which county, has the earliest evidence of human occupation in the UK been found?

 

The Answer to the Last Question

Where is the tallest tree in the United Kingdom?

The tallest tree in the UK is a Douglas Fir tree in Reelig Glen near Inverness, which is 66.4m tall. This makes it the tallest coniferous tree in Europe. It only became the tallest tree in 2014 when it grew to exceed the height of the 64m Dughall Mor Douglas Fir which is only 50m away. The trees are in woodland on the northern slopes of The Aird, 8km W of Inverness (Grid Reference NH55924246)

 

The Record Locations

You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

Big Cities, Big Records

Most of us in Britain live in towns or cities rather than in the countryside and over 30% of us live in the largest ‘metropolitan’ areas. This means that our ‘home county’ is not one of the great ‘shire’ counties, such as Oxfordshire or Herefordshire, but is one of the metropolitan counties formally created in the 1960s or 1970s. Greater London, with almost 9 million residents, is by far the largest of these metropolitan counties, followed by the West Midlands (2.9 million), Greater Manchester (2.8 million) and West Yorkshire (2.3 million). The largest of the shire counties (Hampshire) only comes fifth in the rankings with a population of 1.8 million, but actually has more residents than the metropolitan areas of Glasgow (1.3million) and Merseyside (864,000).

Even if you live in a metropolitan county, though, it will still have its own county records. It is easy to think of the ‘urban’ records each will have -its oldest building or its largest cathedral, sports venue or concert hall and so on. But the metropolitan counties also have their highest and lowest points, even if they are built on (although they usually aren’t!), their longest river, and their largest nature reserve. There are green and ‘rural’ parts of all of the metropolitan counties – Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, for example is the largest urban park in Europe, covering 900ha (Grid Reference SP11209610).

Because Greater London is bigger than all the others, and in most cases is much older, it would be easy to expect that the capital has almost all of the national records for urban landscape. But while it holds more national records than each of the others, it is by no means only Greater London which holds UK records for any of these ‘extreme’ locations. There are national record places to be found in every one of our metropolitan counties. Here is just one example of a national record held in each of our seven largest metropolitan counties

Greater London

The tallest building in the European Union is ‘The Shard’, a 95 storey commercial building next to London Bridge station, completed in 2012 with a height of 309.7m. (Grid Reference TQ32798019).

West Midlands

The longest road bridge in the UK is the M6 Bromford Viaduct at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham. Opened in 1971, this elevated stretch of motorway runs from Junction 5 (Castle Bromwich) to Junction 6 (Gravelly Hill (aka ‘Spaghetti Junction’), a distance of 5.6km. (Grid Reference SP14209010).

Greater Manchester

The largest pub in the UK is ‘The Moon under the Water’ on Deansgate in Manchester. It was formerly the Deansgate Picture House and became a pub in 1995. It has a capacity of 1700 customers. (Grid Reference SJ83719849).

West Yorkshire

The highest motorway in the UK is the M62 at Junction 22 (the Rockingstone Moss Interchange) at an altitude of 372m. (Grid Reference SD98801478).

Glasgow

The shortest distance between motorway junctions in the UK is 160m between J17 and J18 on the M8 in Glasgow. (Grid Reference NS58156630).

Merseyside

The oldest public park in the world is Birkenhead Park, Birkenhead, designed by Joseph Paxton and opened in 1847. (Grid Reference SJ31038923).

South Yorkshire

The largest stately home in the UK is Wentworth Woodhouse, Wentworth in Rotherham Metropolitan Borough. The main façade of 185m is the longest of any stately home in Europe. The house has more than 300 rooms and a floor area of 23,000 square metres. (Grid Reference SK39519768).

 

The Record Locations

You can use the Grid References provided to locate each of these record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

 

And Finally….!

The Must Get Out More Question !

Where is the tallest tree in the United Kingdom?

 

The Answer to the Last Question

Where is the largest living thing in the UK?

The largest living thing in the UK is a sessile oak tree growing at Croft Castle, Yarpole in Herefordshire. The tree is 35.2m tall, and has a girth of 8.70m, which means that the volume of timber in the tree is 107.5 cubic metres. (Grid Reference SO45286569)

Local Records, National Records

Every county in the UK has its own set of local records – its highest point, its oldest church, its largest stadium and so on. At first sight these may seem to be of only local interest, a passing acquaintance for those who live or work in the county, or perhaps for those who were born and raised there but now live elsewhere. For many of our counties, though, one or more of those local records is also a national record or a UK record – and in some cases a world record. Even the smallest counties can have significant claims to fame, therefore, with their own record places attracting interest and visitors from much further afield.

An example is the historic county of Caithness in northern Scotland, now part of Highland region but still a registration and lieutenancy (i.e. ceremonial) county. Despite being only the 81st largest county in the UK by population (only 26000 people live in Caithness), the county boasts four county records that are also national records for Scotland and also for the UK. Two of these records come as no great surprise as they are the result of Caithness’ northern location in the UK – Dunnet Head, 10km North east of Thurso, is the northernmost point on the mainland of Great Britain, while the village of Skarfskerry, 5km east of Dunnet Head, is the northernmost settlement of the island of Great Britain. But Caithness has two other UK records which are less obvious, with one being a ‘largest’ and one being a ‘smallest’ record. The ‘largest’ is the Caithness and Sutherland peatlands, known as The Flow Country, which cover 143,503ha and are the largest wetland area in the UK. This bleak and wet plateau of peat and bog is of international significance because of its distinct flora and fauna, and covers most of the west of the county between the A897 and A9 trunk roads. The ‘smallest’ record is much more quirky, for the town of Wick possesses the shortest street in the UK. Ebenezer Place, which is just 2.06m long, is claimed by The Guinness Book of Records to be the shortest street in the world. Ebenezer Place, built in 1883, has just one door (No 1) which is the entrance to a restaurant.

Larger than Caithness in population, the county of Derbyshire also demonstrates how national and international records are found in almost every one of our counties. Several of Derbyshire’s county records are national records, too, and these include, amongst others….

* the northernmost prehistoric cave paintings in Europe, at Cresswell Crags on the Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire border, 5km north east of Worksop

*the longest disused railway tunnel in the UK (Woodhead (New) Tunnel), near Glossop in the north west of the county, which is 4.86km long but was closed in 1981,

*the location in the UK which is furthest from the sea –Church Flatts Farm near Coton-in-the-Elms, 7km south west of Swadlincote, is 113km from the nearest coast in Lincolnshire and Cheshire

*the ‘Centre of England’ at Morton, 5km north of Alfreton, which is midway along England’s longest North-South axis and midway between the east coast and the Welsh coast

So, almost every county has a claim to a national record of some sort. What national records does your own county hold?

 

The Record Locations

Use the Grid References below to locate them on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

The Northernmost Point on the island of Great Britain

Dunnet Head, 10km North east of Thurso ND20737619

The Northernmost Settlement on the mainland of Great Britain

Skarfskerry, 5km east of Dunnet Head ND27477420

The Largest Wetland in the UK

143,503ha The Caithness and Sutherland peatlands, known as The Flow Country ND21104500

The Shortest Street in the World

2.06m Ebenezer Place, Wick ND36245083

The Northernmost Prehistoric Cave Paintings in Europe,

Cresswell Crags on the Derbyshire /Nottinghamshire border, 5km north east of Worksop SK53507420

The Longest Disused Railway Tunnel in the UK

4.86km long. Woodhead (New) Tunnel, near Glossop in north west Derbyshire, closed in 1981 SK11149998

The Location in the UK Furthest from the Sea

Church Flatts Farm near Coton-in-the-Elms, 7km SW of Swadlincote, Derbyshire, is 113km from the coast in Lincolnshire and Cheshire SK25311454

The ‘Centre of England’

Morton, 5km north of Alfreton,Derbyshire, is midway along England’s longest North-South axis (Berwick-upon-Tweed to Poole) and midway between the east coast of England and the Welsh coast SK40806011

 

And Finally….!

The Must Get Out More Question !

Where is the largest living thing in the UK?

 

The Answer to the Last Question

Where is the deepest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom?

Loch Morar, which lies 7km south east of Mallaig in the Lochaber District of Highland Region in Scotland (in the historic county of Inverness-shire) is the deepest freshwater lake in the UK, with a maximum depth of 310m (NM76709029).

A Large Drop of Water

There is nothing as dramatic in any landscape as the thunder and spray of a large waterfall as it plummets over a valley side and carves out its plunge pool and gorge below. We all know of the World’s grandest waterfalls, and many feature on the ‘bucket list’ of those who love travel and the great outdoors – Niagara Falls in Canada and the USA ,the Iguassu Falls on the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border are all popular destinations.

But what about waterfalls in the UK? The counties with the largest waterfalls are in the north and west of the UK, in the mountainous regions of high rainfall. The tallest single drop and total drop waterfall in the UK is in Sutherland in north west Scotland (it’s called Eas a Chual Aluinn) and falls 200m. In full spate it is 3 times higher than Niagara Falls. In Wales the highest total drop waterfall is Maesglaese , 10km east of Dolgellau, with a fall of 160m, although the largest single drop fall is The Devil’s Appendix on Cwm Idwal, in the Glyder range east of Llanberis which falls 93m. All are impressive, and all are county champions (Maesglaese is in the historic county of Merionethshire, while the Devil’s Appendix is in the traditional county of Caernarvonshire), but getting to see them can be difficult because of their inaccessible locations.

Finding the largest drop waterfall in your own county can be more straightforward. In Somerset, for example, St.Audrie’s waterfall drops 10m on to the beach at West Quantoxhead, 5km east of Watchet on the Bristol Channel coast. In Shropshire the highest waterfall is Light Spout , which has a drop of 4m, and is not far from the road in Carding Mill Valley on the Long Mynd, 3km west of Church Stretton.

In the lowland and more urbanised parts of the country it can be much more difficult to find a waterfall, though. This is sometimes because there are no large height drops that rivers must negotiate. Its also, though, because people are very good at modifying rivers and streams by building diversions, dams, weirs and making artificial lakes when we need to control flooding, or the river is in the way of building work, or we want some ornamental feature constructing. In West Midlands county, for example, there are almost no natural waterfalls, and the county record is held by a small fall of about 1m height on the Mousesweet Brook, in Cradley Heath , Sandwell, a tributary of the River Stour.

And in Greater London there are no natural waterfalls left at all. There are a large number of artificial falls and weirs built for ornamental or water control reasons – for example, the ‘waterfall’ at Padmall Wood on the River Ravensbourne in Keston, Bromley, which is sometimes described as the largest waterfall in London. There is, though, not a single natural drop of water in London!

Does your home county have a waterfall worthy of a visit?

The Record Locations

Use the Grid References below to locate them on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

The Highest Single Drop and Total Drop Waterfall in the UK

200m Eas a Chual Aluinn NC28102780

The Highest Total Drop Waterfall in Wales

160m Maesglase, 10km east of Dolgellau   SH82741402

The Highest Single Drop Waterfall in Wales

93m The Devil’s Appendix, 10km east of Llanberis SH63805880

The Highest Waterfall in Somerset

12m St.Audrie’s waterfall , West Quantoxhead, 5km east of Watchet ST10634314

The Highest Waterfall in Shropshire

4m Light Spout , Carding Mill Valley, 3km west of Church Stretton SO43009500

The Highest Waterfall in the county of the West Midlands

1m Mousesweet Brook waterfall, in Mousesweet Brook local nature reserve Cradley Heath, Sandwell     SO93708620

Not the “Highest Waterfall” in Greater London!

1.5m Padmall Wood waterfall on the River Ravensbourne, Keston, Bromley (in South East London)  TQ41706460

 

And Finally….!

The Must Get Out More Question !

Where is the deepest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom?

 

The Answer to the Last Blog Question

Where is the deepest place underground (measured from sea level) that you can reach on the transport network in the UK?

Its at the lowest point of the Severn Railway Tunnel underneath the Bristol Channel between Bristol and south Wales, where the line is 43.9m below sea level. For comparison, the lowest point on the London Underground system is found on the Jubilee Line platforms at Waterloo station, which are 26m below sea level. The lowest point of the Channel Tunnel is 75m below sea level , but of course that’s not in the UK as its in the middle of the English Channel

Getting the Low Down

Reaching the highest point always seems to be an ambition for many people. If you get to the ‘top’, whether that’s the highest mountains in the UK, the highest hill in your county (‘the county top”) or just the summit of a local hill, it’s a great sense of achievement. In comparison, low points get a poor press – who brags about reaching the lowest place, unless it’s a world-famous place like the Dead Sea in Israel? Yet these low points are ‘record locations’ just like the high points, and they are not necessarily any easier to reach than the peaks. Even geography ‘buffs’ who seem to know everything struggle with this one. They might know the highest point in the county but unless it’s at sea level they probably can’t name the lowest point.

We’re talking about points on the surface, of course. Going down mines, or potholing, or even going through road or rail tunnels can get you lower still, but we’re not looking at that here. The official lowest point in the UK is at Holme Fen, near Holme, which is 7km south of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, where Holme Fen National Nature Reserve is 3m below sea level. If it wasn’t for the human-made drainage systems of the Fens, which date back two centuries, it would actually be below the sea today.

For most inland counties of the UK, their lowest point is on the banks of one of the rivers where it leaves the county. In Warwickshire, for example, it is where the River Avon flows south westwards into Worcestershire (on its way to the River Severn at Tewkesbury) that the low point of 25m is found. This lies on the west bank of the river at Abbot’s Salford, 3km south west of Bidford-on-Avon. You can view it across the river by following the Shakespeare’s Avon Way south for 1.5km from the village of Cleeve Prior.

Now, you’d guess that finding the lowest point in coastal counties is pretty easy, as it is anywhere along the coastline at sea level. Altitudes in Great Britain are measured relative to what’s called Ordnance Datum (OD), which was the mean sea level (MSL) at Newlyn in Cornwall as measured between 1912 and 1921. That’s fine, but we all know that sea level changes continuously with the tides each day, so the actual lowest point in a coastal county varies minute by minute! Take Cheshire, for example. You can stand at sea level on the beach in many places, for example at Parkgate 15km west of Ellesmere Port, and if you look at the local tide tables you can find out when it’s going to be lowest each day. But if you want to be at the lowest low point for many years go there at low tide on 22nd March 2019, which is the lowest tide this side of 2026.

And what about London? Greater London isn’t strictly a coastal county as it lies on the River Thames, but the river is of course tidal. The lowest point in Greater London is at Rainham Marshes, 2km south of Rainham in the Borough of Havering, and you can join the Thames Path from the car park there off Coldharbour Lane. But if you want to see the lowest low point in Greater London then you’ll need to visit on 22 February 2019, 12 March 2020 or 12 March 2024, which are the lowest Spring tides between now and 2026.

So where is the lowest point in your county?

The Record Locations

Use the Grid References below to locate them on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

The Lowest Point in the UK

-3m Holme Fen, Holme, 7km S of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire TL20608870

The Lowest Point in Warwickshire

25m West bank of River Avon at Abbot’s Salford, 3km SW of Bidford-on-Avon SP06734838

The Lowest Point in Cheshire

Sea level e.g. Parkgate, on the N bank of the Dee Estuary, 2km NW of Neston SJ27307900

The Lowest Point in Greater London

Sea level e.g. North bank of the River Thames at Rainham Marshes, Rainham TQ51608000

 

And Finally….!

The MustGetOutMore Question !

Where is the deepest place underground (measured from sea level) that you can reach on the transport network in the UK?

(answer next time)

Getting High

 

Nothing captures the imagination of those passionate about ‘the great outdoors’ more than landscapes of hills. They conjure up images of adventure and challenge, they provide the prospect of stunning viewpoints, and they are the source of the tranquillity and escapism that many of us aspire to in our busy schedules.

Hills are also the stuff of collectors, or ‘baggers’, too. This is because they have a specific summit, of a known and measured height (i.e. places with real numbers!), and for those who like their ‘outdoors’ served with a side helping of facts and tick lists they are the cordon bleu dish on the activity menu. My own first taste of the hills came from reading the adventures of the great mountaineers – Hillary and Tensing on Everest, Edward Whymper on the Matterhorn. Reality set in, though, when I realised that my local hills at the time, on the edge of the Peak District, although ‘proper’ hills and a challenge to walk up, were merely ‘bumps’ on a global scale and were never going to make me a famous mountaineer. So, I looked at what records I could achieve in my own backyard – could I reach the highest point in Staffordshire, my home county?

Then the fascination, challenge and ambiguity of environmental facts and records struck home. The highest point in Staffordshire lies in heather moorland at 519m above sea level on the northernmost county boundary with Derbyshire. It’s a walk of about 1.5km from  the nearest minor road near Dane Head, and ‘doable’ for the averagely fit.  But while it’s the highest place you can be within Staffordshire, it’s a bit of a disappointment when you get there because it’s not a hilltop or summit – it’s just a point on the south west side of Cheeks Hill, whose actual summit is about 25 metres to the north, a few metres or so higher in altitude and actually over the border in Derbyshire.

So the highest point is not the highest hill in the county. That honour lies with Oliver Hill, about a kilometre to the south and just north of the village of Flash (the highest village in Britain). Oliver Hill is ‘only’ 513m high, but more importantly, the whole hill is in Staffordshire. So, was that the hill I needed to climb?

And then the data nerd’s curve ball appeared. Neither the highest point nor the highest hill is actually the place in Staffordshire that sits highest above its surrounding landscape. The ‘most prominent hill’ is the award given to the hill with the greatest ‘drop’, and in the case of my home county that is ‘The Cloud’, which is on the county’s North-west  boundary with Cheshire, about 4km north east of Congleton. You can see The Cloud from a long distance, and although it is only 343m high, it stands proud and prominent at 177m above the valley of the River Dane.

This all means of course that there are three places you need to visit to make any claim of achieving ‘height’ records in Staffordshire. All three are pretty easy to ascend, although Oliver Hill has no public right of way to the ‘top’ unlike the others. But, what’s more, this raised an exciting possibility – I could enjoy ‘places’ and the’ outdoors’ in my own backyard, and I could indulge my fascination with the factual, the quirky, the obscure and the downright interesting without having to ‘bag’ Munros, or follow 4000km rivers. I could do it from home, in my own time and within my own capacities.

And with that realisation, ‘Must Get Out More’ was born.  Its about identifying the places with the local records and also finding those local places that hold national (or even world!) records, then putting them on your personal ‘to do’ list.

Are the highest point, the highest hill and the most prominent hill all the same place in your home county?

The Record Locations

Use the Grid References below to locate them on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

The Highest Point in Staffordshire

519m. A point just SW of Cheeks Hill, 12km north of Leek OS Grid Ref SK025698

The Highest Hill in Staffordshire

513m. Oliver Hill, near Flash, 10km north of Leek. OS Grid Ref SK027675

The Most Prominent Hill in Staffordshire

343m with a drop of 177m The Cloud, 4km ENE of Congleton. OS Grid Ref SJ904637

Welcome!

Must Get Out More!

This Blog is for all those whose passion is the great outdoors but who are intrigued and excited by those geographical and environmental ‘facts’ that capture the imagination – the tallest, the oldest, the most visited, the most remote places in the landscapes you live in everyday or visit when you can get away. They may be places that you know, love and visit. They may be places on your ‘to do’ list. They may be places whose quirky ‘record’ simply intrigues and fascinates you. They may be places you realise you would like to try and visit.

Follow ‘Must get Out More’ – the Blog begins in earnest on 1st June!

Must Get Out More Near You

We can’t all be intrepid Arctic explorers or climb the World’s highest mountains – work, age, money, time and, sometimes, talent, get in the way of what we can each achieve. But we can almost all of us explore our own patch of the UK, the places where we live, work and take our leisure time. Walking to the highest point in your home county or even your own parish, town or village could be a good starting point. Do you know where the highest point is, or perhaps if you are more of an historian, do you know where the oldest surviving building is, in

a) your home town or parish

b) your home county

c) your home country

Have you visited them?

 

Answers to the questions from the last Blog

Q1    Malmesbury is the oldest Borough in England, receiving its borough status and Charter c880AD

Q2    Loch Lomond is the largest natural lake in Scotland, with a surface area of 71 square kilometres

Q3   The highest village in Wales is Garn-yr-erw, 2km north west of Blaenavon in Gwent – it lies at an altitude of 400m

Q4  The northernmost point in Northern Ireland is Rathlin Island, an island that is 6km x 4km and lies just off the north coast of County Antrim.

Q5  Actually, neither of them is, strictly speaking. Today they are each one of the 48 ceremonial counties of England, meaning that they have a Lord Lieutenant as the Queen’s representative, but so are the City of Bristol and the City of London, which are both smaller than Rutland or the Isle of Wight. The City of London is only 2.9 square kilometres in area. Officially the Isle of Wight is 384 sq.km and Rutland is 382 sq. km., so that Rutland is smaller. However, as the area measures the amount of land above mean sea level, at high tide and high Spring tide each month the Isle of Wight actually becomes smaller than Rutland. Rutland is the smallest of the 39 historic counties of England – these are the counties that existed prior to 1974. The Isle of Wight was part of Hampshire until 1974.

How many did you get right? Whether you got them all right, all wrong, or simply knew some of the answers, then “Must Get Out More” will be a Blog you will enjoy!

To whet your appetite!

My Blog, “Must Get Out More” is going live on the 1st June.

Here’s a taster of some of the things it might include – do you know the answer to the following quirky records in the UK?

Q1

What UK record does the Borough of Malmesbury in Wiltshire hold?

Q2

What is the largest natural lake in Scotland?

Q3

Where is the highest village in Wales?

Q4

Where is the northernmost point of Northern Ireland?

Q5

Is the Isle of Wight or Rutland the smallest county in England?

Answers will follow!!!