Historic Counties Descriptions

The counties are listed along with their Historic Counties Standard (HCS) Number and their HCS Code.

01  ABN  Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire is a Highland county. Its coastline rounds the "Cold Shoulder" of the Highlands, Buchan, on which coast are the fishing towns of Fraserburgh and Peterhead. The county's coast then stretches round to the county town, Aberdeen and the River Dee, the lower reaches of which form its southern border with Kincardineshire. The coast is largely rocky with few headlands. Aberdeenshire reaches inland along the valley of the Don and up the Dee deep into the Grampian Mountains. In these inland parts the county beyond Buchan are mountain and forest, but with fertile valleys. The City of Aberdeen is the landward heart of the North Sea oil business. This has made Aberdeen one of Britain's wealthiest towns and also a centre of engineering excellence. Aberdeen is home to one of the four ancient universities of Scotland. Inland, Aberdeenshire contains several "Munroes" (mountains over 3,000 feet), of which the highest is Ben Macdhui, standing at 4,296 feet, on the Banffshire border.
Main Towns:Aberdeen, Ballater, Braemar, Dyce, Fraserburgh, Huntly, Inverurie, Peterhead.
Main Rivers:Dee, Don, orkthan, Deveron.
Highlights:Balmoral; Slains Castle, Peterhead; Provost Skene's House, Aberdeen; Loanhead Stone Circle.
Highest Point:Ben Macdhui, 4269 feet.
Area:1,950 sq miles


02  AGL  Anglesey
Anglesey (Sir Fôn) is an island county. Anglesey is separated from Caernarfonshire on the mainland by the Menai Straits, spanned by the Britannia Bridge and the Menai Suspension Bridge. Anglesey is the only county in Wales that is not mountainous, the highest point being Holyhead Hill (703 feet). Its northern coast is rocky and a haven for nesting seabirds, choughs and ravens. Elsewhere the coast is gentler and dotted with shingle and sandy beaches. There are many antiquities, including the impressive Beaumarais Castle, built by Edward I. The main rivers are the Braint and the Cefni. Off the west coast of the Isle of Anglesey but linked by a causeway, is Holy Island. Holyhead on Holy Island is the main ferry terminal between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Anglesey's most important industries are agriculture and tourism (one of the biggest drawing attractions being the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngythgogerychwerndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch).
Main Towns:Beaumaris, Holyhead, Llanerchymedd, Menai Bridge, Newborough, Trearddur Bay.
Main Rivers:Alaw, Braint, Cefni, Wygyr.
Highlights:Beaumaris Castle; Britannia Bridge; Bryn Celli Du burial chamber; Din Lligly Roman village.
Highest Point:Holyhead Mountain, 720 feet.
Area: 276 sq miles


03  ANG  Angus
Angus is a square-shaped county on the east coast of Scotland. The main town is Dundee, which grew to wealth on jute manufacture, shipbuilding and whaling. Now more diversified industry keeps it going. Angus rises from the lowlands coast up to the mountains, amongst which are the isolated Braes O' Angus, famed for their beauty. Angus can be divided into four parallel and very distinctive districts; in the north the Grampians, in the south the Sidlaw Hills, between them Strathmore, and the coastlands in the east. The shire was also once known as Forfarshire from its county town, Forfar. Forfar was a royal residence for some centuries, and the place where Malcolm III granted new titles to his nobility (a scene Shakespeare portrayed, though he portrayed it on the bloody fields of Dunsinane in Perthshire).
Main Towns:Forfar, Arbroath, Brechin, Carnoustie, Dundee, Fintry, Kirriemuir, Montrose.
Main Rivers:Isla, Esk.
Highlights:Glamis Castle; Championship Course, Carnoustie; Glen Esk; Glen Clova; J M Barrie Museum, Kirriemuir.
Highest Point:Glas Maol, 3502 feet.
Area: 889 sq miles


04  ANM  Antrim
A coastal county of Ulster, bounded to the north and east by the sea, to the west by the River Bann and Lough Neagh from which the Bann flows. The county's southern border is the River Lagan, which flows into the North Channel in the Belfast Lough. Thus Antrim is surrounded by water. Belfast, the main city of Antrim, is also the major city (and capital) of Northern Ireland. The town of Antrim itself, near the shore of Lough Neagh, is a modest market town. Antrim consists of a number of distinctive areas. In the northeast of the county, running down into the sea, are the Antrim Hills and cutting through them the beautiful Glens of Antrim. On the north coast is that great forest of verticle hexagonal basalt columns, the Giant's Causeway. Inland behind the hills is the valley of the Main, with the towns of Ballymena and Ballymoney. The southern edge of the county is dominated by Belfast at the head of Belfast Lough and satellite towns running back to Lisburn. The main ferry terminals for Great Britain are at Belfast and Larne.
Main Towns:Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Larne, Lisburn, Portrush.
Main Rivers:Bann, Lagan.
Highlights:Glens of Antrim; Giant's Causeway; Carrickfergus Castle; Dunluce Castle.
Highest Point:Trostan, 1817 feet.
Area:1,175 sq miles


05  ARG  Argyllshire
Argyll is a large county of breathtaking scenery. It is deeply cut by sea lochs, and divided into peninsulas and scattered islands stretching into the Atlantic. The county embraces the Isles of Skye, Jura, Islay, Mull (off which lie Ulva and Iona), Colonsay, Coll and Tiree and many others; a great part of the islands of the Inner Hebrides. The lochs of the mainland part of Argyll divide it into distinctive districts, including Ardnamuchan (on which Ardnamuchan Point is the westernmost point in mainland Great Britain), Morvern, Lorne, Argyll, Cowal, Knapdale and Kintyre, reaching southward. The mainland and most of the islands of Argyll are mountainous. The name of Argyll is an ancient one; the Borderland of the Gael. It approximates to the first Kingdom of the Scots, Dalriada, which through later conquest and accretion spread to become Scotland. The Queen and the Duke of Argyll can trace their descent from the chieftains of Argyll and of Lorne respectively in modern Argyllshire. Oban in Lorne, on the Firth of Lorne, is the main ferry port for the Hebrides.
Main Towns:Argyll, Bowmore, Campbeltown, Connel, Dunoon, Furnance, Kiloran, Kinlockleven, Lochgilphead, Lochgoilhead, Oban, Inverary, Port Ellen, Tarbert, Tighnabruaich, Tobermory.
Main Rivers:Urchay, Awe.
Highlights:Glen Coe; Isle of Mull; Fleming's Cairn, Rannoch Moor; Iona; Kilchurn Castle; Staffa (Fingal's Cave); West Highland Line.
Highest Point:Bidean nam Bian, 3773 feet.
Area:3,110 sq miles


06  ARH  Armagh
Armagh is an inland county of Ulster. County Armagh is largely agricultural. There are no major rivers apart from the Blackwater separating Armagh from Tyrone, and the Newry, separating it from County Down. Both rivers fall into Lough Neagh, which thus forms Armagh's northern border. Between the river valleys is a more hilly district. The City of Armagh is the seat of the Primate of All Ireland; the Archbishop of Armagh. The claims of Armagh as a seat of power are part of an ancient tradition leading back to the nearby site of Emain Macha, the royal seat of the Kings of Ulster which appears in the legend of Cú Chulainn.
Main Towns:Armagh, Craigavon, Crossmaglen, Portadown, Lurgan, Tandragee, Loughgall.
Main Rivers:Blackwater, Bann, Callan, Newry.
Highlights:Armagh Planetarium; County Museum, Armagh; Slieve Gullion Forest park; Palace Stables Heritage Centre.
Highest Point:Slieve Gullion, 1893 feet.
Area:512 sq miles


07  AYS  Ayrshire
Ayrshire is a coastal county. It has received heavy industrialisation, with coal and iron mines. As a result, and from its proximity to Glasgow, Ayrshire is more urbanized than some neighbouring counties. Despite a decline in industry, steel manufacture and related trades thrive in Ayrshire. Despite its length and position of the Firth of Clyde, the Ayrshire coast has no substantial commercial ports. The coast is largely rocky, but there are few islands. The bleak rock of Ailsa Craig is a dominant feature in the empty Firth. Ayrshire is traditionally divided into three districts from north to south; Cunninghame, Kyle and Carrick.
Main Towns:Ayr, Ardrossan, Girvan, Irvine, Kilwinning, Largs, Prestwick, Saltcoats, Troon.
Main Rivers:Ayr, Kilmarnock, Farnock, Irvine, Lugar, Doon, Girvan, Stinchar.
Highlights:Ailsa Craig bird reserve; Robert Burns' cottage, museum, monument, Alloway; Culzean Castle.
Highest Point:Kirriereoch Hill shoulder, 2565 feet.
Area:1,129 sq miles


08  BNF  Banffshire
Banffshire is a county on the Moray Firth and reaching from that rough coastline, stretching inland up the valley of the river Spey into the Grampian and Cairngorm mountains. The highest mountains are Ben Macdhui (4,296 feet), shared with Aberdeenshire, and Cairngorm (4,080 feet). The rugged mountain areas of Banffshire give way further north to more rolling country with fine glens and some areas of rich plains, running down at last to the coast. The county's main rivers are the Deveron, the Boyne, the Avon (which runs from the height of Cairngorm into the Spey) and the Spey for the miles where it forms the border with Morayshire. Banffshire's economy is largely pastural. The county is almost entirely rural.
Main Towns:Aberchirder, Banff, Buckie, Cullen, Gardenstown, Keith, Macduff, Tomintoul, Whitehills.
Main Rivers:Deveron, Spey, Avon.
Highlights:Auchindown Castle; Colleonard Sculpture Park; Duff House, Banff; Glenfarcas distillery.
Highest Point:Ben Macdhui, 4296 feet.
Area:641 sq miles


09  BED  Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire is a relatively small county in the southern Midlands. It is largely low-lying, though the Chiltern Hills also reach into the southern part of the county. The chief river is the Great Ouse, which snakes through the county, producing very fertile country, and on whose banks lies the county town, Bedford. In area, most of the county is agricultural. However there are several large towns and industrial development around many towns. The main town is Luton, an industrial town with a major airport. Bedford itself, is smaller, but a thriving town nevertheless. While no "New Towns" were planted in Bedfordshire, Bedford, Luton and several towns have been the subject of similar planned expansion, influenced by the A1, which runs through the centre of the county, and the M1 in its south. Nevertheless, away from the main towns Bedfordshire has rich agricultural land, rolling rural scenery and pretty villages.
Main Towns:Ampthill, Bedford, Luton, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Sandy.
Main Rivers:Flit, Ouse, Ivel, Hiz, Ouzel, Lea.
Highlights:Woburn Abbey Safari Park; Bunyan Statue, Bedford; Luton Hoo; Whipsnade Zoo; Wrest Park.
Highest Point:Dunstable Downs, 801 feet.
Area:465 sq miles


10  BER  Berkshire
Berkshire's northern border runs for more than 100 miles along the south bank of the Thames. It stretches from Windsor in the east up to the borders of Gloucestershire in the west. The River Thames provides, apart from the northern border, fertile farmland. In western Berkshire rise the Berkshire Downs, rising to about 1,000 feet. From them is much beautiful and wooded river scenery down to Reading. The prehistoric Ridgeway runs along the Berkshire Downs, above the pleasant Vale of White Horse. There the famous White Horse of Uffington is the major landmark. The main town is Reading, though historically the county town is Abingdon. The Shire Hall in Abingdon is one of the earliest and finest of the seventeenth century public halls. Reading, Bracknell and other Berkshire towns are growing and thriving on the computer industry, becoming known as Silicon Valley. Windsor is the Queen's main residence outside London. This jewel of a town is dominated by Windsor Castle, the largest castle in Britain and indeed the largest inhabited castle in the world.
Main Towns:Abingdon, Didcot, Harwell, Hungerford, Maidenhead, Newbury, Reading, Wantage, Windsor.
Main Rivers:Thames, Kennet, Blackwater, Lamborn, Ock, Lodden.
Highlights:White Horse and Maiden Castle, Uffington; Windsor Castle and Great Park; Warfield St Michael's church.
Highest Point:Walbury Hill shoulder, 959 feet (SU 374 618).
Area:722 sq miles


11  BRW  Berwickshire
Berwickshire is a lowland shire, along the border of England and Scotland. The River Tweed forms its southern border with Northumberland. Berwickshire can be divided into three areas; the Merse being the fertile lands along the Tweed, Lauderdale in the westerly part of a dale with cuts into the Lammermuir Hills, where the River Leader runs, and finally the Lammermuir Hills, the ridge of hills separating Berwickshire from East Lothian. Lammermuir reaches 1,746 feet in Berwickshire, at Meikle Says Law on the border of East Lothian. The Berwickshire economy is argricultural, with fishing particularly from Eyemouth. The town of Berwick, from which the county is named, might be claimed by Berwickshire but the town was sundered by force from its shire in the mediæval wars, leaving Berwickshire without its natural county town.
Main Towns:Coldstream, Duns, Eyemouth, Lauder.
Main Rivers:Tweed, Eye, Blackadder, Leader.
Highlights:Dryburgh Abbey; Eyemouth Museum; Mellerstain House; Thirlstane Castle.
Highest Point:Meikle Says Law shoulder, 1746 feet.
Area:457 sq miles


12  BRN  Brecknockshire
Brecknockshire (Sir Frycheiniog), also known as Breconshire, is an inland county bounded to the north by Radnorshire, to the east by Herefordshire, to the south by Monmouthshire and Glamorgan, and to the west by Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire. Brecknockshire is predominantly rural and mountainous. In the south, Brecknockshire stands at the heads of the Valleys. The Black Mountains occupy the southeast of the county, the Brecon Beacons the central region, Fforest Fawr the southwest and Mynydd Eppynt the north. Most of the Brecon Beacons National Park lies within Brecknockshire. The highest point is Pen-y-Fan (2,901 feet). This is popular rough hiking country. The River Wye traces nearly the whole of Brecknock's northern border, and the Usk flows in an easterly direction through the central valley. Of the many waterfalls in the county, Henrhyd Falls are particularly spectacular. At the eastern border of the county is the book town Hay on Wye; a small town but with more second hand bookshops than any other town in the world. The most important industries are agriculture, forestry and tourism.
Main Towns:Brecon, Builth Wells, Cefn-Coed-y-Cymmer, Crickhowell, Hay-on-Wye, Llanwryd Wells, Ystradgynlais.
Main Rivers:Wye, Usk, Honddu, Irfon, Elan, Claerwen, Taff, Tawe.
Highlights:Brecon Beacons National Park; Bulwark and High Street, Brecon; Ffynnon Drewllyd (Stinking Spring), Llanwrtd Wells; Bookshops & Castle, Hay-on-Wye.
Highest Point:Pen-y-Fan, 2901 feet.
Area:743 sq miles


13  BUC  Buckinghamshire
A distinctively shaped inland county. The delightful Chiltern Hills, sweeping through the south of the county, give the shire much of its character; with beech woods in the west, rising to higher, more windswept landscape around Ivinghoe Beacon, and all full of pretty villages of flint and thatch. It provides fine walking country. The more gentle, pastoral Vale of Aylesbury lies north of the Chilterns. Buckinghamshire's short southern border is the River Thames, which above Slough is considered the finest stretch of that river. In the north of the county, along the Great Ouse, Milton Keynes spreads across the landscape; an ambitious, planned New Town of the 1970's, in sharp contrast to Buckingham to the west, an ancient and very picturesque town.
Main Towns:Aylesbury, Beaconsfiled, Buckingham, Chalfont St Giles, Eton, High Wycombe, Linslade, Marlow, Milton Keynes, Princes Risborough, Slough.
Main Rivers:Ouse, Ray, Thames, Colne, Chess, Wyte, Lovat, Lyde.
Highlights:Burnham Beeches; Cliveden Estate; Quaker Meeting House, Jordans; Waddesden Manor.
Highest Point:Haddington Hill, 975 feet.
Area:745 sq miles


14  BTE  Buteshire
Bute is shire made of islands. The Isle of Bute stands just off the Cowal peninsula of Argyll. Its main town is the wee port of Rothsay, (The Prince of Wales as heir to the throne bears the title Duke of Rothsay.) Also within Buteshire are Arran, a far larger island but less populous, lying southward of the Isle of Bute, and Great and Little Cumbrae to the east, off the Ayrshire coast. Hemmed in as they are by the surrounding lands, the islands of Buteshire enjoy a clearer, more salubrious climate than the West Coast of Scotland has generally.
Main Towns:Brodick, Lochranza, Milport, Rothesay.
Main Rivers:St Colmac Burn, Ettrick Burn, Machrie Water.
Highlights:Brodick Castle, Arran; Rothesay Castle, Bute; Mount Stuart House, Bute; St Molais's cave, Arran.
Highest Point:Goatfell, Arran, 2866 feet.
Area:225 sq miles


15  CRN  Caernarfonshire
Caernarfonshire (Sir Gaernarfon), also spelled Carnarvonshire, or Caernarvonshire, is a largely Welsh-speaking county. It can be divided into three distinct areas; Snowdonia, Arfon and Lleyn. Caernarfonshire is dominated by the mountain fastness of Snowdonia ("Yr Eryri"), in the midst of which lies Snowdon, the highest mountain of Wales. This is very popular walking country, none more so than Snowdon itself, both for popular visitors and for more serious hikers. Below Snowdonia, on the county's north coast, the country is lower lying rolling countryside running down to the Menai Straits. There stands Caernarfon, the old capital of Wales, with its famous castle overlooking the tidal rip of the straits. Beyond Snowdonia westwards lies the unspoilt Lleyn peninsula. Lleyn was imortalised in particular by the poet and minister R S Thomas, who served for many years as the Vicar of Aberdaron, Lleyn's westernmost parish.
Main Towns:Bangor, Bethesda, Betws-y-Coed, Caernarfon, Conwy, LLandudno, Porthmadog, Pwllheli.
Main Rivers:Conwy, Cadnant, Glaslyn, Gwyrfai, Seiont, Ogwen.
Highlights:Caernarfon Castle & Old Town; Conwy Castle; Great Orme's Head; Llyn Pensinsula; Snowdonia National Park.
Highest Point:Snowdon, 3560 feet.
Area:480 sq miles


16  CTN  Caithness
Caithness lies in the very north eastern corner of Great Britain, bounded only by Sutherland and the sea. It is not a highland county but lies beyond the Highlands. It is the northernmost county of mainland Great Britain. Caithness is largely flat and agricultural but with areas of "flow country": peat land interspersed with lochanns. There are just two towns of any size; Wick (the county town) and Thurso. Wick, on the Wick River, has a wide harbour looking out onto the North Sea. Thurso, on the River Thurso, is on the north coast. Thurso's port, Scrabster, is the main commercial and passenger port connecting Orkney to Great Britain. Isolated as it is, the county's historical heritage connects it as much with Orkney and the Norse as with Scotland. Most of the place-names of Caithness are Norse in origin. Caithness contains the traditional northeastern extremity of Great Britain; John O' Groats, as well as the northernmost point; Dunnet Head.
Main Towns:Dunbeath, Dunnet, John O'Groats, Scrabster, Thurso, Wick.
Main Rivers:Thurso, Wick, Oikel.
Highlights:Camster Cairns, Lybster; Dunnet Head; Duncansby Head; The Flow Country.
Highest Point:Morven, 2313 feet.
Area:618 sq miles


17  CMB  Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a flat county, inland but with tidal rivers deep inland. The Gogmagog Hills are the highest features in the county (though the highest point lies near the south-east border at Camps Castle) but beneath them the Cambridgeshire landscape is generally low-lying, much of it drained fens (and still called fenland) and in some areas is at sea level or below. The northern part of Cambridgeshire is known as "The Isle of Ely", which is remarkable for its flatness and its fertile soil. The main town is the university city of Cambridge. The University of Cambridge is the oldest in Britain after Oxford, and with Oxford is the foremost. Its beautiful old colleges sit on mediæval streets and their delightful "backs", look out on the banks of the River Cam. In latter years Cambridge has attracted the computer industry and biotechnology research. The second town of Cambridgeshire is the City of Ely (possibly the smallest city in the land). Ely sits on a low hill above the fens, dominated by its cathedral. Ely Cathedral is visible for many miles across the level fenland and is known as "the Ship of the Fens". In the north of the Isle of Ely is Wisbech. Apart from these Cambridgeshire has no towns to speak of but numerous villages. Much of Cambridgeshire, and whole of the Isle of Ely, is part of the Great Fen, now criss-crossed by canals and dykes, the fenland drained to create exceptionally fertile agricultural land. The main rivers are the Great Ouse, the Cam (or Granta) and two artificial rivers, the Old and New Bedford Rivers (named after the Duke of Bedford), dug for the drainage scheme.
Main Towns:Burwell, Cambridge, Chatteris, Ely, Gamingley, Melbourne, Sawston, Soham, Wisbech, Whittlesey.
Main Rivers:Cam, Ouse, Nene.
Highlights:Cambridge; Ely Cathedral; Pecover House, Wisbech; Wicken Fen; Wandleybury hill fort.
Highest Point:Near Camps Castle Deserted Village, 420feet (TL 632 418).
Area:820 sq miles


18  CRD  Cardiganshire
Cardiganshire (Ceredigion) runs in a sweep along Cardigan Bay from the River Tivy (or Teifi) to the Dovey estuary. The coast is a gentle one, alternating pleasant, sandy beaches and seacliffs. Above the coastal areas the county rises into the Cambrian Mountains. The highest point is Pumlumon at 2,468 feet at which five rivers have their source: the Severn, the Wye, the Dulas, the Llyfnant and Rheidol, the last of which meets the Mynach in a 300-foot plunge at the Devil's Bridge chasm. Throughout, Cardiganshire is a pastoral county of scattered farms and small agricultural villages, with few substantial towns. The chief river is the Teifi which forms the border with Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire for much of its length. Tourism and agriculture, chiefly hill farming, are the most important industries.The county approximates to the ancient kingdom of Ceredigion, from which the English names derives. Cardiganshire is mainly Welsh-speaking.
Main Towns:Aberaeron, Aberporth, Aberystwyth, Borth, Cardigan, Lampeter, New Quay, Tregaron.
Main Rivers:Teifi, Towy, Yst, Claerwen, Phydol, Arth, Ayron, Wirrai, Lery.
Highlights:Promenade, Aberystwyth; Vale of Rheiddol Railway; Devil's Bridge; Strata Florida abbey ruins.
Highest Point:Pumlumon, 2468 feet.
Area:815 sq miles


19  CRM  Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin) lies on the sea where the Bristol Channel is opening onto the Atlantic. The coasts of Carmarthenshire curve around Carmarthen Bay, the quiet dip of the fields running into broad sandy beaches. The Towyn Valley crosses the county from its northeast and runs from the mountains, broadening from Llandovery and providing farmland down through Llandeilo to Carmarthen, a little south of which the Towyn opens into the middle of a three-branched estuary with the Gwendraeth and the Taf into Carmarthen Bay. Off these rivers are many tidal creeks. The southern part of Carmarthen is generally low lying and pastoral. The north and east, beyond the Towyn Valley, are mountainous.
Main Towns:Carmarthen, Kidwelly, Llanelli, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llanstefan, Newcastle Emlyn, St Clears.
Main Rivers:Towy, Gwendraeth Fawr, Gwendraeth Fechan, Llougher.
Highlights:Carreg Cennen Castle; Cenarth Coracle Centre; Roman Amphitheatre, Carmarthen; Dylan Thomas' boathouse, Laugharne.
Highest Point:Fan Foel, 2562 feet.
Area:1,095 sq miles


20  CHE  Cheshire
West to east, Cheshire reaches from the windswept Wirral peninsula up into the Peak District. The north encompasses industrial towns and the suburbs from Manchester and Liverpool, fading into the agricultural south of the county. Cheshire has been called "the Surrey of the North". The City of Chester retains many mediæval features, including the only surviving complete town wall walk. Inland Cheshire forms a vast plain separating the mountains of Wales from the Peak District of Derbyshire. In the Cheshire plain are fine oak woodlands and countless small lakes or meres. At the county's western extremity is the Wirral, a flat peninsula some 12 miles long by 7 miles wide separating the Dee and the Mersey. The Wirral is now largely urbanized. At its easternmost extremity the parish of Tintwistle runs up into the Peaks; a narrow strip between Derbyshire and Lancashire. Cheshire excels in dairy farming, resulting in Cheshire cheese. Much of central Cheshire is a salt-mining area, as it has been since Saxon times, chiefly around Nantwich, Northwich and Middlewich. There are also coal and iron mines.
Main Towns:Altrincham, Birkenhead, Chester, Crewe, Halton, Hoylake, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Sale, Stalybridge, Stockport, Wilmslow.
Main Rivers:Dee, Mersey, Weaver, Dane.
Highlights:Alderley Edge; Chester; Little Moreton Hall; Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Highest Point:Black Hill, 1908 feet (SE 078 047).
Area:1,027 sq miles


21  CLM  Clackmannanshire
Britain's smallest county, Clackmannanshire lies between Perthshire and Stirlingshire, bounded by the River Forth, touching also Kinross-shire and Fife. "The Wee County" is a countrified county of farms and small settlements. In the north are the low lying Ochil Hills, a highlight being the imposingly sited Castle Campbell, overlooking the chasm of Dollar. In the south the land is low-lying with small towns and some industry. The Mill Heritage Trail enables the visitor to gain an appreciation of the prominent role that sheep farming plays in the present and past of the county.
Main Towns:Alloa, Clackmannan, Dollar, Menstrie, Tillicoultry.
Main Rivers:Black Devon.
Highlights:Cambuskenneth Abbey; Castle Campbell; Dollar Glen; Wallace Monument, Abbey Craig.
Highest Point:Ben Cleuch, 2363 feet.
Area:48 sq miles


22  CNW  Cornwall
The Royal Duchy of Cornwall is in the very southwest of Britain. Land's End is the westernmost point of mainland England, and the Lizard its southernmost. Twenty-eight miles southwest of Land's End lie the Isles of Scilly. Cornwall is triangular in shape, surrounded to the north and south by the sea and on the east by the River Tamar, which forms the border with Devon almost from coast to coast. Both coasts provide breathtaking scenery, its granite cliffs beaten by the full force of the Atlantic. Southern Cornwall is a little more protected and has long, twisting creeks bringing the tide deep into the land, which were once ideal for smugglers. Inland are farms and moorland. There are many prehistoric remains on the moors and hills. Cornwall's rough and rugged landscape has inspired poets, novelists and artists for centuries. The old industries (or at least the lawful ones) were tin mining (now practically ended after 3,000 years), fishing, and subsistence grazing on the moors. Now tourism dominates, drawn by Cornwall's beauty and fine weather. The Prince of Wales is Duke of Cornwall, the Duchy owning much of the county. Historically Cornwall was a separate kingdom, being absorbed into English Wessex only in the 9th or 10th century. In latter years Cornishmen have been reasserting their distinctive identity and even the Cornish language (similar to Welsh), which died out in the 18th century but flavours most of its place-names.
Main Towns:Bodmin, Bude, Falmouth, Fowey, Launceston, Lostwithiel, Mousehole, Padstow, Penzance, Redruth, St Austell, St Ives, Truro, St Neots, Saltash, Tintagel.
Main Rivers:Tamar, Camel, Fal, Fowey, Truro, Kenwyn, Allen.
Highlights:Bodmin Moor; Lands End; Lanhydrock house; Mevagissey; Merry Maidens stone circle; St Michael's Mount.
Highest Point:Brown Willy, 1375 feet.
Area:1,349 sq miles


23  CRT  Cromartyshire
Cromartyshire is unique in having no single body. It is a scattered shire, built from various estates belonging to George Mackenzie, Earl of Cromarty, in 1685 and 1698, on the East Coast, the West Coast and inland within Ross. The town of Cromarty itself is a royal burgh on the north of the Black Isle on the east coast. On the west coast, on Little Loch Broom, Cromartyshire includes Ullapool and other districts. Various parcels of land inbetween belong to Cromartyshire. Geographically it is easier, and usual, to treat Cromartyshire together with Ross-shire, in which all of its parts are locally situate. The largest settlement in the county is Ullapool, a scenic nineteenth century fishing town on the west coast and Loch Broom.
Main Towns:Ardmair, Cromarty, Kildery, Portmahomack, Ullapool.
Main Rivers:Ullapool, Canaird.
Highlights:Ben Wyvis; Loch Broom; Hugh Miller's Cottage, Cromarty.
Highest Point:Sgurr Mor, 3642 feet.
Area:370 sq miles


24  CUM  Cumberland
Cumberland must be looked at in two parts, a highland area and a lowland, coastal area. The hills of Cumberland form a great part of the exquisite Lake District. Derwentwater, Buttermere and Crummockwater, Ennerdale Water, Wast Water, and part of Ullswater lie in Cumberland. Above them rise mountains, including England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike (3,210 feet). Also within Cumberland are Scafell, Skiddaw, Great Gable and Pillar. This is prime walking country for hardy souls. Beyond the green Eden valley, the Penines cross the east of Cumberland, with Cross Pell, 2,930 feet, the highest. In the north is Carlisle, a cathedral city, whose massive castle and fortifications against the Scots still dominate much of the town. In the rest of Cumberland fortified churches and "peel houses" are found, built as a defence not so much against the Scots as against reivers, who terrorised the border country before the Union. Cumberland's coast has industrial towns, though industry has faded, leaving urban deprivation a problem, particularly in Whitehaven which was once a major port for the Atlantic trade. The Sellafield nuclear power station at Seascale is a major employer.
Main Towns:Alston, Brampton, Cockermouth, Carlisle, Keswick, Maryport, Penrith, Whitehaven, Wigton, Workington.
Main Rivers:Eden, Derwent, Esk, Duddon.
Highlights:Carlile Castle & Cathedral; Castellrigg & Long Meg and her Daughters stone circles; Hadrien's Wall; Scafell Pike.
Highest Point:Scafell Pike, 3210 feet.
Area:1,516 square miles


25  DBH  Denbighshire
Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych) is a relatively small county in northern Wales, with a very distinctive shape. It lies between Flintshire and Cheshire to the east and Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire to the west. Denbighshire has a gentle coast on the Irish Sea, a sandy coast dotted with affordable holiday resorts, a continuation of the holiday coast that stretches from the Dee to Colwyn Bay. Inland the county is agricultural, low-lying near the coast and along the Clwyd Valley (shared with Flintshire), becoming more rolling with charming villages as one moves more southward. The south and west of Denbighshire rise into the mountains. Pistyll-y-Rhaeader is a spectacular 240 feet waterfall. A southeastern spur of Denbighshire drives high up to Mignaint to the watershed between north and west. Another arm reaches far east southward of Flintshire (indeed squeezing between its two parts) to embrace Wrexham beyond the mountains. Wrexham is a substantial, industrialised town.
Main Towns:Abergele, Chirk, Colwyn Bay, Denbigh, Gresford, Llangollen, Llanrwst, Ruthin, Wrexham.
Main Rivers:Conwy, Clwyd, Dee.
Highlights:Castell Dinas Bran; Erddig Hall; Plas Newydd; Valle Crucis Abbey; St Peter's Square, Ruthin.
Highest Point:Cader Berwyn (southern summit - "New Top"), 2723 feet.
Area:640 sq miles


26  DRB  Derbyshire
Derbyshire has four distinct areas but all together creating the whole. Much of southern Derbyshire lies in the green Trent Valley. Derby itself, a cathedral city, is a major midland industrial town, currently trying to diversify. The Derwent runs through the eastern edge of Derby, southward towards the Trent. From the northern edge of Derby the hills begin to rise at once and the rolling hills of the Derbyshire Dales begin. This area is an in between land, for beyond the farms of the hills and dales, the land becomes rougher and the hills become the high, dramatic moors of Peak District, an area of glorious scenery. The mountains in the High Peak, take up the whole northwest of the county. The Pennine Way begins at Edale in the Peak District, drawing hikers in their hundreds each week. The rest of the Peak District should not be neglected though. From Ashbourne the Leek Valley can be visited. Buxton, once a popular spa town, retains its Victorian charm. The Peak District is known for its springs, as countless underground streams bubble up from the hills, and the ceremony of "well-dressing" that takes place in villages throughout the district. Historically lead has been mined in great quantities in the Peak District hills. Quite distinct is the northeast of Derbyshire, with its coalfields. A great number of industrial towns and mining towns dot the valleys of the Derwent, the Amber and the Rother, socially distinct from the rest of the county.
Main Towns:Ashbourne, Bakewell, Buxton, Chesterfield, Derby, Glossop, Matlock.
Main Rivers:Derwent, Dove, Trent, Wye.
Highlights:Chatsworth House; Dove Dale; Eyam 'plague village'; Haddon Hall; Speedwell Cavern.
Highest Point:Kinder Scout, 2088 feet.
Area:1,029 sq miles


27  DVN  Devon
Devon is large county in the southeastern corner of the land; only Cornwall lies beyond to the west. Devon has two seacoasts to north and south, with the Bristol Channel and English Channel respectively. Dorset and Somerset are to the east. Devonshire has a proud seagoing tradition. The Elizabethan navy that defeated the armada and "singed the King of Spain's beard" was largely drawn from Devon. Sir Francis Drake was a Tavistock man. Only in recent years has the Royal Navy scaled down its dominant presence in Devonport in Plymouth. The southern coast is very lovely, rugged between Thurlestone and Salcombe, from where a network of craggy tidal creeks reaches deep into the land. Cliffs front the sea. The northern coastline is remarkable for steep thickly-wooded cliffs between Lynmouth and Ilfracombe, while beyond the Taw and Torridge estuaries there is again magnificent coastal scenery around Clovelly, and from Hartland to the Cornish border. Inland most of southern Devon is Dartmoor, a bleak but picturesque landscape of granite hill country rising to over 2,000 feet in places. Tavistock is the Queen of Dartmoor, a fine granite-built town on the Tavy. In the north Exmoor begins, where the River Exe rises. There is rolling agricultural land to the north and in the east of the county, particularly along the Exe and Culm Valleys. Exeter, the county town, is a mixture of mediæval and modern. It lies on the Exe a short distance above its estuary. The Exe Valley runs almost the length of eastern Devonshire, north to south, with several smaller towns and picturesque villages of thatched cottages.
Main Towns:Axminster, Barnstaple, Bideford, Dartmouth, Exeter, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Newton Abbot, Plymouth, Sidmouth, Torquay.
Main Rivers:Plym, Lyd, Tavy, Bovey, Dart, Avon, Teign, Exe, Taw, Tamar, Yealm.
Highlights:Dartmoor; Exeter Cathedral; Exmoor; Lynton/Lynmouth; Plymouth.
Highest Point:High Willhays, 2039 feet.
Area:2,405 square miles


28  DRS  Dorset
Dorset is a Wessex county of chalk downs, a charming coast and the home of the stately and rural life lovingly captured in the novels of Thomas Hardy, a Dorset man, and before him by the Rev. William Barnes. The downs reach a height of over 900 feet in the west. Dorset's farmland and the look it has bequeathed to the landscape has thankfully been little touched by excessive modern development. The limestone cliffs of the Dorset coast are rich in nature and in other ways; "Purbeck marble", Portland stone, and from the cliffs of Lyme Regis innumerable dinosaur fossils. Chesil Beach, a unique pebble bank runs some eight miles to the Isle of Portland, projecting into the English Channel south from Weymouth. Weymouth and Poole Harbour are top yachting havens. Poole Harbour, a great island-studded inlet between Purbeck and the town of Poole, is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Dorchester is a confident market town. The rest of the county is a landscape of farmland and villages with smaller historic towns.
Main Towns:Abbotsbury, Bridport, Dorchester, Gillingham, Lyme Regis, Poole, Portland, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Herbourne, Swanage, Weymouth.
Main Rivers:Axe, Frome, Stour.
Highlights:Brownsea Island; Cerne Abbas Giant; Chesil Beach and Portland Bill; Durdle Door; Lulworth Cove; Maiden Castle.
Highest Point:Lewesdon Hill, 915 feet.
Area:980 sq miles


29  DWN  Down
A county on the east coast of Ulster. It can also be called Downshire. Down runs from the highly urbanized, southern Belfast and its suburbs, to the wild Mourne Mountains. Downshire's west coast itself is the Ards peninsula, which clasps itself around Strangford Lough, a large sealoch, bringing the sea into the heart of the county. Strangford Lough has within it a scatter of little low islands, owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Belfast lies athwart the Antrim-Down border. The Lagan running down into Belfast, forms Down's northern edge and carries the Belfast suburbs. The north coast of County Down has genteel commuter towns for Belfast such as Bangor, while the rest of the north of the county is agricultural. In the south of County Down are the Mourne Mountains, remarkably precipitous granite peaks of which Slieve Donard (2,796 feet) is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. The mountains run down to the sea at Newcastle and at Carlingford Lough. Carlingford Lough forms the border with the Irish Republic.
Main Towns:Ballnahinch, Banbridge, Downpatrick, Dromore, Newcastle.
Main Rivers:Lagan, Bann, Clanrye, Quoile.
Highlights:Exploris aquarium, Portaferry; Dromore Cathedral; Lahananny Dolmen; St Patrick's Grave, Downpatrick; The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn.
Highest Point:Slieve Donard, 2796 feet.
Area:950 sq miles


30  DMF  Dumfriesshire
Dumfriesshire is a hilly county between Kirkcudbrightshire and Cumberland, with Lanarkshire in the north. It lies along the shore of the Solway Firth. Dumfriesshire's town and villages lie mainly in the great valleys running south into the Solway Firth; Liddlesdale easternmost, then Eskdale, Annandale, Annandale and Nithsdale, which marks the border with Kirkcudbrightshire. Each dale has its own character. Liddlesdale was once a part of the Debateable Lands, and a haunt of the most lawless reivers. (It is somewhat more polite these days.) Annandale forms much of the main route from Glasgow to the south and by the towns, old inns and even Roman forts along its length it seems to have served that purpose for millennia. Dumfries itself, on the Nith, lies on the border with Kirkcudbrightshire. It has not outgrown the charm which caused Robert Burns to choose it as his final home. The many rivers and lochs of Dumfriesshire produce a most beautiful landscape, and are rich in fish, attracting trout and salmon fishing in season.
Main Towns:Annan, Ecclefechan, Dumfries, Gretna, Lockerbie, Moffat, Langholm.
Main Rivers:Nith, Annan, Esk.
Highlights:Caerlaverock Castle; Birrens hill fort; Blacksmith's shop, Gretna Green; Gretna Hall; Grey Mail's Tail waterfall.
Highest Point:White Coomb, 2695 feet.
Area:1,063 sq miles


31  DUN  Dunbartonshire
Dumbartonshire is a small county split into two parts. The main part lies north and west of Glasgow, along the north shore of the Firth of Clyde and stretching northward between Loch Long and Loch Lomond, following north up almost the whole length of the twain lochs. The detached part of Dumbartonshire is to the east, containing Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch. Dumbartonshire towns cling to the north bank of the Clyde, above which rise mountains. The Rock of Dumbarton rises sheer above the town of Dumbarton on the Firth of Clyde. This was the seat of the old Kingdom of Strathclyde, the northernmost Welsh kingdom of the Dark Ages. Strathclyde lasted many centuries before it fell under Scottish influence and was eventually conquered by the English and ceded to the King of Scots in the late tenth century. In contrast is the modern town of Clydebank. Clydebank is an engineering and shipbuilding town, now grown with its own suburbs and joined into the Glasgow conurbation. Cumbernauld in the east is a New Town, thoroughly modern, but with traces of the late Roman Antonine Wall running to the north of it. In this eastern part of Dumbartonshire the land is level and lush, where it has not been built on. It forms a part of the Clyde-Forth Belt almost joining Glasgow to Edinburgh.
Main Towns:Cardross, Cyldebank, Cumbernauld, Dumbarton, Helensburgh, Kirkintilloch.
Main Rivers:Cylde, Leven.
Highlights:Antonine Wall; Dumbarton Castle; Glen Douglas; Loch Lomond; West Highland Way.
Highest Point:Ben Vorlich, 3092 feet.
Area:241 sq miles


32  DRH  Durham
County Durham was in the Middle Ages a county palatine under the rule of the Bishop of Durham; the Prince-Bishops as they were known. A great deal has changed in Durham since those days though, even is the palatinate ended only in 1836. County Durham today is in parts a heavily industrialized county. It is rich in mines; coal, iron, lead, mill-stone grit and limestone. Indeed in parts of Durham sea-coal is driven from undersea ridges onto the beaches in industrial quantities. The mines, now in deep decline, drove the county's development. The mouths of the Tees and the Tyne are heavily industrialised and urban. The northeast of the county, including Gateshead, Washington, South Shields and Sunderland, is the most urbanised. However away from the urban areas, in particular in the west of the county, Durham becomes hill country; the Durham Dales are prime rugged walking country. The county has wide, uncultivated moors amongst the hills, which rise up into the Pennines. The south is more fertile farmland, and along the Tees are more industrial towns. Indeed they may symbolize industrialism; the opening Stockton-Darlington railway has been said to mark the definitive opening of the Industrial Age. Between the towns the coast has a variety of cliffs and sandy beaches. The City of Durham rises magnificently on a hill surrounded by the River Wear, crowned by its huge Norman Cathedral. Behind the cathedral is a precipitous drop down to the river. This site was chosen in troubled times as a defensible spot by the guardians of the bones of Saint Cuthbert, which now lie within the Cathedral. Their settlement here was the effective foundation of Durham and its status. County Durham is bounded north and south by the Tyne and the Tees respectively. The Wear is the other major river. Little rivers run down scenic wooded denes all along the coast.
Main Towns:Barnard Castle, Billingham, Blaydon, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Jarrow, South Shields, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland, Washington.
Main Rivers:Wear, Tees, Tyne.
Highlights:Durham Cathedral; Raby Castle; Jarrow Church and Monastery; HMS Warrior, Hartlepool.
Highest Point:Burnhope Seat, 2452 feet.
Area:1,015 sq miles


33  ELT  East Lothian
East Lothian is a coastal county east of Edinburgh. It has also been known as Haddingtonshire. Due to its position there are a number of commuter villages in East Lothian serving Edinburgh. The East Lothian coast runs along the southern shore of the Firth of Forth and round to the North Sea. Much of this coast is blessed with sandy beaches and a fine climate attracting holidaymakers to resorts such as North Berwick. North of Dunbar is the mouth of the River Tyne, but a far gentler one than its busy namesake further south, entering the North Sea instead in a broad sandy bay. East Lothian is a generally low-lying fertile county, given to farming and fishing. There are also coal mines, but without leaving East Lothian with a heavily industrialized landscape. The southernmost part of the county, in stark contrast to most of the shire, is in the Lammermuir Hills, which form a great divide between the Lothians and Berwickshire.
Main Towns:Dunbar, Haddington, North Berwick, Prestonpans.
Main Rivers:Tyne, Coalstone, Whitewater, Fastna, Peffer.
Highlights:Auld Kirk, North Berwick; Berwick Law; Lammermuir Hills; Haddingtown town walk; Muirfield championship golf course.
Highest Point:Mickle Says Law, 1755 feet.
Area:267 sq miles


34  ESE  Essex
Essex is full of contrast. The southwest of the county (including Romford, Dagenham, Woodford, Leyton, West Ham) lies within the London conurbation, and the heavy industry which serves it, particularly on the lower Thames reaches. Along the Thames estuary new towns and modern housing developemtns have spread and are still spreading irresistably to produce almost a continuous line of occupation from London to Southend, linked with motorways and arterial roads. However beyond this urban zone Essex retains scenic countryside and charming villages. Epping Forest, though close to the London spread, has remained largely unspoiled. The Essex coast, ragged, indented by river estuaries (the Colne, the Blackwater, the Crouch) and full of tidal marshes, with low islands off the coast, is ever changing, losing land to the North Sea or gaining it. Indeed Essex is bounded by water on all four sides. To the north its border with Suffolk is the Stour, to the south it follows the Thames down from Leamouth out into its estuary and the sea. The county's western border with Middlesex, is the River Lea. Largely flat though it is, Essex rises in the northeast with low chalk hills and winding valleys, particularly around the Chishills near the Cambridgeshire border, beyond which the scarp plunges again at the county border.
Main Towns:Barking, Basildon, Colchester, Dagenham, Chelmsford, Harwich, Illford, Maldon, Romford, Saffron Waldon, Southend-on-Sea, Stansted Mountfitchet, Tilbury, Tiptree, West Ham, Woodford.
Main Rivers:Stour, Blackwater, Lea, Colne, Chelmer, Crounch, Roding.
Highlights:Castle Hedingham; Colchester roman remains; Waltham Abbey.
Highest Point:High Wood (nr Langley) (Chrishall Common), 482 feet (TL 443 362).
Area:1,542 square miles


35  FRM  Fermanagh
Fermangh is a sparcely populated county of lakes and pasture. Enniskillen is the only sizeable town. The River Erne running through the length of Fermanagh has created two great lakes, Upper and Lower Lough Erne. Much of Upper Lough Erne resembles a scatter of low green islands with broad river channels winding at random between them. Lower Lough Erne is a broader body of water with wee islands dotted about it. Enniskillen sits between the two Loughs, where the Erne is a river again. Both of the Loughs are popular for fishing and holiday boating. Above the Loughs, Fermanagh is a wholly agricultural county. Historically there was coal mining and quarrying in Fermanagh, but without much visible impact on the county as a whole.
Main Towns:Enniskillen, Lisnakea, Irvinestown.
Main Rivers:Arney, Erne, Sillees, Owenbrean, Cladagh, Colebrook.
Highlights:Castle Coole; Devenish Island; Enniskillen Castle; Lough Erne; Marble Arch Caves.
Highest Point:Cuilcagh, 2182 feet.
Area:715 sq miles


36  FFE  Fife
Fife is the land lying along the northern shore of the Firth of Forth, between the Firth and the Tay. Fife is a modest sized shire but claims for itself the title, or nickname "The Kingdom of Fife". Fife is at its most urban at its southerly pointing corner, at the Forth Bridges, on which the major roads and rail lines converge. Dunfermline, the largest town, is in this area, and the Royal Navy's major base and dockyard at Rosyth. Further up the coast in the waist of the shire is Kirkcaldy, an ancient trading port and the home town of the father of modern economics, Adam Smith. At Fife's eastern edge, as it projects into the North Sea, is St Andrews, a former monastic and archiepiscopal centre. It is also the seat of one of Britain's oldest universities. St Andrews is also the home of golf; the games was invented or here or took its shape here, at the Royal and Ancient. Fife's southern shore is rocky, but along the north-eastern shore towards St Andrews it becomes a large plain, going into the sea in a long, flat, sandy beach.
Main Towns:Anstruther, Auchtermuchty, Culross, Cupar, Dunfermline, Freuchie, Leven, Kincardine, Kirkcaldy, Rosyth, St Andrews.
Main Rivers:Eden, Leven, Den.
Highlights:Forth Bridge; Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews; Hill of Tarvit, Cupar; Pittencrieff House, Dunfermline; Ravenscraig Castle.
Highest Point:West Lomond, 1712 feet.
Area:504 sq miles


37  FLT  Flintshire
Flintshire (Sir y Fflint) is a small county, one of the smallest in Britain. It is comprised of three parts. The main body of Flintshire lies along the Dee estuary, opposite the Wirral. A smaller part, known as Maelor Saesneg, projects between Cheshire and Shropshire, separated from the main body of its county by a tract of Denbighshire. Between these two lies a small portion wholly surrounded by Denbighshire. St Asaph, on the River Clwyd, is a small town but is a cathedral town, the seat of the ancient bishopric of St Asaph, which in the early Middle Ages was the spiritual centre of the Kingdom of Powys. The Flintshire coast is marked with affordable holiday resorts, notably Prestatyn and Rhyl. Elsewhere Flintshire has secondary industrial and distrbution centres amidst what is otherwise rural countryside. In the centre of Flintshire is a backbone of modest hills, the Clwydian Range and in the western edge of the county the Clwyd Valley.
Main Towns:St Asaph, Bodelwyddan, Buckley, Connah's Quay, Dyserth, Flint, Holywell, Overton, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan, Rhyl, Mold.
Main Rivers:Clwyd, Elwy.
Highlights:St Asaph Cathedral; Bodelwyddan Castle; St Winefride's Well, Holywell; Flint Castle; Ewloe Castle; Rhuddlan Castle; Maen Achwynfan (Sone of the Place of Sorrow), Whitford.
Highest Point:Moel Fammau, 1820 feet.
Area:640 sq miles


38  GLM  Glamorgan
Glamorgan (Morgannwg), on the northern coast of the Bristol Channel, is the southernmost and most populous county in Wales. Glamorgan contains the great cities of Cardiff and Swansea amongst many smaller towns. The northern part of the County is a mountainous area, dissected by deep narrow valleys, with urbanisation typified by ribbon devlopment. Although the coal industry, which shaped these valleys and their communities, has now disappeared, this area remains heavily populated with light industry and the service sector now providing the economic base. The Vale of Glamorgan, a lowland area mainly comprising farmland and small villages stretches across most of the south of the county from Porthcawl to Cardiff. In contrast to the cities and valleys, much of the Vale remains unspoilt and rural. Further west, beyond Swansea, lies the Gower penisula, a place of renowned scenic beauty and sea air. Cardiff, at the southeastern end of Glamorgan, is the cultural centre of Wales, and its capital, It sits on a wide bay, now barraged. The city is undergoing ambitious redevelopment. Nearby the village city of Llandaff is the seat of an ancient bishopric. Swansea, Wales' second city and Cardiff's great rival, lies in the south-west of the county, around the grand sweep of Swansea Bay, immortalised in Bryan Martin Davies' Glas. The County has a wide and diverse economic base including: public administration, agriculture, light industry, manufacturing, service sector, tourism.
Main Towns:Aberavon, Aberdare, Barry, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Llantrisant, Maesteg, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath, Pontypridd, Port Talbot, Swansea.
Main Rivers:Taff, Ely, Rumney, Daw, Ogmore.
Highlights:Cardiff Castle; Caerphilly Castle; Castell Coch; Glamorgan Heritage Coast; Gower; Tinkinswood burial chamber.
Highest Point:Craig-y-llyn, 1969 feet.
Area:845 sq miles


39  GLC  Gloucestershire
Gloucester is a large county stretching, west to east, from the Welsh border to Berkshire and, south to north, from Somerset to Warwickshire. It is split by the Severn on which sits the City of Gloucester. Gloucestershire has three distinct parts. The best known part is the Cotswold Hills, which cover the east of the county, and spread also into Oxfordshire. The Cotswolds are famed for the beauty of their villages and the landscape. The Cotswolds remain a wealthy sheep-farming region. Locally quarried Cotswold stone is used ubiquitously throughout the Cotswolds, producing picture-postcard, honey coloured towns and villages. The Severn Vale by contrast is flat and shaped by the great river. Gloucester though apparantly inland is a port relying on the river, while further north is historic Tewkesbury, on a slight rise in the flat Vale from which it has looked down on the cruel Severn floods. The Severn is dotted with picturesque villages. West of the Severn is the Forest of Dean, reaching out as far as the exquisite Wye valley on the borders of Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. Bristol lies astride the Avon (which forms the border with Somerset). It is the great city of the Southwest, spreading with its suburbs in each direction.
Main Towns:Bristol, Cheltenham, Chipping Campden, Cirencester, Lydney, Nailsworth, Stow-on-the-Wold, Stroud, Tewkesbury.
Main Rivers:Avon, Severn, Windrush, Coln, Leadon, Wye.
Highlights:Badminton; Berkeley Castle; Cabot Tower, Bristol; Cotswolds; Forest of Dean; Source of the Thames; Offa's Dyke.
Highest Point:Cleeve Hill, 1083 feet.
Area:1,125 sq miles


40  HMP  Hampshire
A seaborne county and a landward county, a rural and an urban county, Hampshire looks in two directions. The south coast of Hampshire, on the English Channel, looks to the sea. Southampton is Britain's greatest commercial seaport and eastward of it Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy. Other ports line the Hampshire coast, and indeed from the head of Southampton Water to the edge of Sussex runs a swathe of townscape, broken only by a breathing space of smaller towns by Southampton and by the river estuaries, islands and creeks with which the natural coastline is ragged. In this though each town has it characteristics and history. Across the Solent is the Isle of Wight, a self-reliant island (and once a separate Jutish kingdom) but a part of Hampshire nevertheless. Queen Victoria fell in love with the island and stayed frequently at Osborne House. The Island is famous for its Victorian resort towns (e.g. Sandown, Ryde, Ventor), its dramtic coastline (e.g. the Needles, Tennyson Down) and peace of its unspoiled interior. Cowes is a world famous Yachting centre. Inland Hampshire is a county of farms. The county town at its heart is Winchester. Winchester's Norman cathedral, the seat of one of the land's most senior bishoprics, dominates the centre of the mediæval city, while a Victorian statue of King Alfred reminds us that Winchester was the capital of Wessex and Anglo-Saxon England. Beyond Winchester, Hampshire's picture-postcard countryside rolls all around the traveller. Almost like an annex in the southwest of the county is the New Forest. The New Forest was laid out as a hunting reserve by William the Conqueror, but as broad woodland and heath it is far older. It is a timeworn place which appeals to one's ancestral longings. Along the coast west of Southampton is a string of sandy resort towns, culminating in the Victorian splendor of Bournemouth.
Main Towns:Aldershot, Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Cowes, Newport, Petersfield, Portmouth, Ringwood, Ryde, Southampton, Winchester, Ventnor.
Main Rivers:Meon, Test, Itchen, Hamble, Beaulieu, Avon.
Highlights:Beaulieu; Osborne House; HMS Victory & Portsmouth Harbour; The New Forest; The Needles.
Highest Point:Walbury Hill, 974 feet (SU 373 616).
Area:1,622 sq miles


41  HRF  Herefordshire
Herfordshire is only English county wholly west of the Severn. It is also possibly England's most rural county. Indeed it is said that outside Hereford and Leominster the population has not increased since the Middle Ages. The hills are rugged green pasture, with deep river valleys along which the shire's villages are found. The foothills of Brecknockshire's Black Mountains begin in western Herefordshire, some standing at 2,000 feet. East of them the land comes in a number of great northwest-southeast folds, including the famous Golden Valley. The very east of the county rises into the whaleback of the Malvem Hills, forming the border with Worcestershire. The major river of Herefordshire is the Wye, which runs from Clifford next to the bounds of Radnorshire down to Hereford then writhes toward Ross-on-Wye before running out of the county. The Wye in its lower Herefordshire reaches is a broad, calm stream passing fields and hamlets. There are still coracle fishermen on the Wye. Herefordshire is famous for its "black and white villages" of pied half-timbered cottages. The City of Hereford, on the Wye, is dominated by its imposing mediæval cathedral, out of proportion to the small city itself; an impressive edifice to the glory of God in the midst of a land shaped by His hand.
Main Towns:Bromyard, Goodrich, Kington, Ledbury, Leominster, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye, Weobley.
Main Rivers:Wye, Frome, Lugg, Teme.
Highlights:Hereford Cathedral; Church of St Mary & St David, Kilpeck; Symonds Yat; Prospect Gardens, Ross-on-Wye; Eastnor Castle.
Highest Point:Black Mountains, 2306 feet.
Area:833 sq miles


42  HTF  Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire, particularly southern Hertfordshire, is much affected by its closeness to the Metroplitan conurbation, sprouting ubiquitous red brick housing developments and hostile trunk roads. Despite that though much of the county has remained rural and unspoilt. The west of Hertfordshire rises into the edge of the Chilterns, with its typical small villages and beechwoods. From the Colne Valley's birch and blackthorn woodlands to the mixed farmlands of the bulk of the county are networks of footpaths for all to enjoy. The county's most charming town is the city of St Albans. It stands on a hill overseen by St Albans Abbey, a very large and distinctive church, and a cathedral since 1877. St Albans has the important Roman remains of the city of Verulamium. Hertford, the county town, combines the old market town with a busy modern outer town.
Main Towns:Abbots Langley, Barnet, Berkhamstead, Bishop's Stortford, Borehamwood, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Hitchin, Hertford, St Albans, Tring, Watford, Welwyn Garden City.
Main Rivers:Lea, Colne, Stort, Ivel, Rib, Mimram.
Highlights:St Albans Cathderal; Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence; Hatfield House; Verulamium roman remains.
Highest Point:Pavis Wood (nr Hastoe), 803 feet.
Area:727 sq miles


43  HNT  Huntingdonshire
One of the smallest of the counties, Huntingdonshire is a county of pretty little villages, with no major towns until the Peterborough suburbs at the county's northern fringe. It lies between Cambridgeshire to the east and Northamptonshire and Bedforshire on the west. Huntingdonshire is roughly rhomboid in shape, centred on Huntingdon, and the meeting of the Great North Road (now the A1) and the route from east coast to the Midland towns, now the A14. The four towns of Huntingdonshire are St Neots, St Ives, Ramsey and Huntingdon itself; three mediæval abbey towns and the fortress of the Ouse. Huntingdonshire is almost entirely flat. The south of the county is a network of villages surrounded by mixed farming. North of Huntingdon the land lies within the Great Fen, long since drained and converted into broad, fertile arable fields. Much of the land is below sea level. The main town of the fens is Ramsey. The Great Ouse enters Huntingdonshire at St Neots, the largest town in the county, and flows past Huntingdon and St Ives until the border with Cambridgeshire. The course of the river in Huntingdonshire is where the river shows its greatest beauty. Huntingdonshire is mainly agricultural, though with much light industry and computer technology companies, and around Huntingdon in particular road haulage thrives due to the county's position.
Main Towns:Huntingdon, Kilbolton, Godmanchester, St Ives, St Neots.
Main Rivers:Nene, Ouse, Kym.
Highlights:Cromwell's Birthplace and Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon; Flag Fen; Old Fletton.
Highest Point:Field (nr Three Shire Stone), 263 feet.
Area:359 sq miles


44  INS  Inverness-shire
Inverness-shire is the heart of the Highlands, and the largest county in Britain after Yorkshire. Inverness-shire spreads from the Atlantic to the North Sea. It is bounded to the north by Ross-shire (and Cromartyshire), on its long, sweeping eastern and southern border by many counties. The landward part of Inverness-shire is wild and mountainous throughout to an immoderate degree and characterized by gorgeous scenery, with isolated glens and lochs. The coastline is marked with long, rugged sealochs. Mainland Inverness can be divided into a number of distinct districts. Around the coast are Moidart, Arisaig and Morar in the southwest, Knoydart in the west, Lochaber in the south, Badenoch in the southeast and the Aird in the north. In the mountains are Badenoch, Strathspey (the upper part of the Spey), Rannoch Moor (shared with Perthshire). Scored through the centre of the shire is the Great Glen, or Glenmore, a deep straight line running southwest-northeast from sea to sea and containing a string of major lochs, from Loch Linnhe to Loch Ness. Loch Ness is the longest, deepest and most famous of all lochs. The lochs of the Great Glen were linked in the nineteenth century by the Caledonian Canal; now little used but remaining surely the most spectacular canal jouney in Britain. The line of the Great Glen follows a geological fault that continues into Lough Foyle and Londonderry. Thankfully it has stopped moving. Inverness-shire also includes all of the Outer Hebrides apart from the Isle of Lewis. (Harris in Inverness-shire is divided from Lewis in Ross-shire by Loch Seaforth, Loch Resort and a hilly land border between them.) The shire also includes several islands of the Inner Hebrides, including the Isle of Skye, Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna and their outlyers. More than a third of Inverness-shire's area belongs to the islands. There are in Inverness-shire more than fifty Munroes (mountains over 3,000 feet), including Ben Nevis (4,406 feet), the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Alder (3,757 feet), Sgurr Alaisdair (3,258 feet) on the isle of Skye, and several of the Cairngorms, a range straddling the border with Aberdeenshire and Banffshire. Inverness is considered the capital of the Highlands. It stands at the mouth of the River Ness (which empties the waters of Loch Ness) as the river enters the Moydart Firth. Inverness, standing at the trysting of the highland roads, is the main mart of the Highlands as it has been for centuries. In more troubled times it was also a garrison town watching the restive clans. Inverness was raised to being a city in 2000.
Main Towns:Aviemore, Beauly, Broadford, Dunvegan, Fort William, Kingussie, Mallaig, Newtonmore, Portree, Inverness.
Main Rivers:Endrick, Feshie, Garry, Ness, Nethy, Spey.
Highlights:Ben Nevis; Caledonian Canal; Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge; Culloden battefield; Great Glen; Loch Ness; Skye.
Highest Point:Ben Nevis, 4406 feet.
Area:4,211 square miles


45  KNT  Kent
A county more full of history than any other, Kent lies at the southeasternmost point of Britain, and closest to Europe. The famous White Cliffs look out over the Straits of Dover, just 22 miles from the French coast. Kent is therefore the land which has greeted visitors for millennia, whether in war or in peace. Kent's name is also the oldest. It derives from the Cantii, an ancient British tribe known to the Romans long before Caesar. Kent was a British kingdom before the Romans came and after them it soon became a Jutish kingdom. Kent is known as the "Garden of England" for the richness and variety of its arable farming. Hop growing has been the traditional major agriculture of Kent, as the oast houses found throughout the county testify. There is coal mining in the east of the county. The northwest of Kent, from Lewisham and Greenwich out to Bromley, is part of the Metropolitan conurbation, containing a great variety of townscapes. Within this area is Greenwich, home of the Greenwich observatory, the crosshairs of whose telescope define the prime meridian of the world. Until recently Greenwich was the home of the Royal Naval College (still a magnificent building) and its naval heritage is strong. Rural Kent holds a great variety of landscape, from the North Downs, to the delightful Weald, down to the fertile solitudes of Romney, Denge, and Walland Marshes stretching inland from the south coast, and the Isle of Thanet in the northeast. Kent has numerous noteworthy castles, and more modern defensive works along the coast facing Europe. The Cathedral City of Canterbury, where St Augustine established himself in 597, is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of All England.
Main Towns:Bromley, Canterbury, Chatham, Dover, Folkestone, Greenwich, Lewisham, Maidstone, Orpington, Ramsgate, Rochester, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Whitstable, Woolwich.
Main Rivers:Darent, Medway, Great Stour, Little Stour.
Highlights:Walmer Castle; Knole county house; Royal Greenwich Observatory; Ighton Mote; White Cliffs of Dover; Romney Marsh.
Highest Point:Betsoms Hill, 823 feet.
Area:1,555 sq miles


46  KNC  Kincardineshire
Kincardineshire is a triangular shire on the North Sea coast, with its southwest border with Angus on the North Esk and its northern with Aberdeenshire on the River Dee. Parts of the City of Aberdeen trespass across the Dee into Kincardineshire. Kincardineshire has also been named "the Mearns". The county consists of a mixture of cultivated land, woodland and moor, rising into the Grampian mountains. It naturally falls into four districts; the Grampian, the Dee-side, Howe of the Mearns, and the Coast-side. The coast is notable for its seabirds, including Scotland's only mainland gannet colony. Fishing and farming are the main industries.
Main Towns:Banchory, Fettercairn, Inverbervie, Kincardine, Laurencekirk, St Syrus, Stonehaven.
Main Rivers:Dee, North Esk, Dye, Cowie.
Highlights:Dunnotar Castle; Howe of Mearns stone cirlce; Red Castle; Crathes Castle, Edzell Castle.
Highest Point:Mount Battock, 2555 feet.
Area:380 sq miles


47  KNR  Kinross-shire
Kinross-shire is, after neighbouring Clackmannanshire, the smallest of the counties. Kinross-shire lies inland, caught between Perthshire and Fife, with a short border also with Clackmannanshire. It consists of a low plain surrounded by hills. At the heart of this little shire is Loch Leven, at 4000 acres the largest loch in the Scotish lowlands, and an internationally importance bird sanctuary. The ruins of Loch Leven Castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was once imprisoned lie in a small island on the loch. The county is predominatly argicultural, though is increasingly becoming a commuter area for Perth, Dundee and Stirling.
Main Towns:Kinross, Milnathort.
Main Rivers:Garney, North Queich, South Queich.
Highlights:Kinross House; Loch Leven; Lochleven castle; Cleish Hills.
Highest Point:Innerdouny Hill, 1631 feet.
Area:73 sq miles


48  KCB  Kirkcudbrightshire
Kirkcudbrightshire is uniquely termed a stewartry (and is sometimes known as "the Stewartry") though if there is a distinction it is to all intents and purposes a shire. Kirkcudbrightshire forms the eastern part of Galloway, which runs along the northern shore of the Solway Firth and Irish Sea. The coast on the Solway Firth is deeply indented as the dales open their rivers into it. Kirkcudbrightshire itself lies between Dumfriesshire and Wigtownshire. The Solway laps its south, while over the hills is Ayrshire. Kirkcudbrightshire is a moderately mountainous county, the main towns and villages lying along the lower-lying coastal district and the dales which run from the north to the Solway, in particular that of the Water of Fleet. The town of Kirkcudbright, on the Dee, is a beautiful old market town.
Main Towns:Castle Douglas, Creetown, Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbright, New Galloway.
Main Rivers:Dee, Urr.
Highlights:Clatteringshaw Dam wildlife centre; Dundrennan Abbey; Glenkens; McLellan's Castle.
Highest Point:Merrick Mountain, 2766 feet.
Area:899 sq miles


49  LNK  Lanarkshire
Scotland's most populous county, Lanarkshire lies in the heart of the Lowlands. Lanarkshire is in essence the valley of the River Clyde; the Clyde rises in the Lowther Hills and flows south-westward and then north-westward to Glasgow, all in Lanarkshire, after which it widens into the Firth of Clyde. Lanarkshire, with both Glasgow and rich coal mines, was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and remains an eminent industrial centre even now that the coal has declined. Lanark, the county town, stands near the Clyde, its textile mills still turning. A mile upstream is New Lanark, the model town built by Robert Owen, the reforming industrialist, for the families of workers at his factory, New Lanark Mills. Near New Lanark are the picturesque Clyde Falls; a pair of great waterfalls dropping 250 feet (albeit somewhat diminished in season from a hydro-electric scheme). Further downstream the plain becomes flatter and the larger towns cluster; Glasgow lies not far. In this urbanized, industrialized area the major towns include Coatbridge, Hamilton and Motherwell. Coatbridge in particular is known for its industrial heritage and current industry. Glasgow, on the Clyde, is one of Britain's greatest cities, built up by the industrial revolution, transatlantic trade and the shipyards. Glasgow was the main motor of Scotland's swift climb to wealth after the union and even after the shipyards have closed it remains the greatest commercial city of the north and one of the greatest in the whole kingdom. The northern end of Lanarkshire is wholly taken up with Glasgow and its suburbs, spreading over the flat land of the lower Clyde. Away from the heavily urbanised parts in northern Lanarkshire, Upper Clydesdale retains some fine countryside, quiet villages and smaller towns like Biggar. The southernmost parts of Lanarkshire are within the mountains of the Southern Uplands.
Main Towns:Blantyre, Biggar, Bothwell, Hamilton, Glasgow, Lanark, Motherwell, New Lanark, Rutherglen, Uddingston.
Main Rivers:Clyde, Douglas, Avon, Calder.
Highlights:David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre; Falls of Clyde; Tinto Hill; St Mungo's Cathderal & Victorian Necropolis, Glasgow; Crookston Castle.
Highest Point:Culter Fell, 2454 feet.
Area:879 sq miles


50  LCS  Lancashire
Lancashire is a large and heavily populated county, in population second only to Middlesex. Lancashire runs up the English west coast from the Mersey north to Morecambe Bay with a further part north of the sands at Furness. Lancashire was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, its cotton mills supplying the Empire and the World. Although competition and changed technology have swept many of the great mills away nevertheless Lancashire is still home to industrial might, and the great towns and cities which grew up in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries still thrive. Away from the industrial and urban areas, Lancashire contains scenery of much beauty and jarring contrasts. The Furness district in the north sits on the sea at Barrow in Furness, a shipyard and industrial town. Behind Barrow though is a land of lakeland fells, forested and mountainous, forming part of the Lake District. Coniston Water, and most of Windermere lie in this part of Lancashire. In the northern part of Lancashire's main body lies Lancaster itself, a modest county town tumbling charmingly down its hill from the Castle to the River Lune. Here the county is fairly narrow, the Pennine Mountains approaching the sea, and the Yorkshire border with them. Between Morecambe Bay and the Ribble Valley, Fylde reaches westward, a broad, flat peninsula whose inland parts are farmland but whose coast is a string of holiday resorts centred on the best known of them all; Blackpool. Lancashire broadens further south. The coast from the Ribble towards the conurbations of the south has more modest coastal resorts. Inland farmland begins to jostle with industrial towns, the latter becoming bigger and closer together until the great industrial conurbations of south Lancashire. In the southernmost part of the county are Liverpool and Manchester, two of the greatest cities in Britain, whose suburbs spread across not just Lancashire but into Cheshire too. Liverpool, founded in 1207, was built around its vast docks from the Irish trade then the Atlantic and African trade routes. King John founded his new port at a marsh on the Mersey, at the point where the great gulf of the Mersey narrows again into a pinch before entering the Irish Sea. Now though great buildings stand on the waterside, the "three graces", and the city has spread all along the Mersey gulf and up the Irish Sea coast. Manchester is an older and a younger city; it was a town in Roman days and a fortress borough in Saxon times, but it only became a town of national and indeed world significance in the Victorian period, as the heart of the manufacturing revolution. An inland city, its civic arms show a ship and the crest shows the world covered in bees; Manchester's industry reaching the world. The Manchester Ship Canal does indeed link Manchester to the oceans, by way of the Mersey.
Main Towns:Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Lancaster, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, Southport, St Helens, Todmorden (part), Ulverston, Warrington, Widnes.
Main Rivers:Mersey, Ribble, Lune, Calder, Hodder, Wyre.
Highlights:Liverpool Anglican Cathedral; Manchester Town Hall; Pendle Hill; Ashton Memorial, Lancaster; Old Man of Coniston; Blackpool Pleasure Beach; Martin Mere nature reserve.
Highest Point:The Old Man of Coniston, 2633 feet.
Area:1,880 sq miles


51  LCR  Leicestershire
Leicestershire is a Midland county, famed as a foxhunting shire but also as an industrial one. Leicester, the county town is a historic city with Roman, Viking and Mediæval roots under a substantial modern city undergoing great social transformation. Leicestershire has a wealth of coal seams. Northern Leicestershire is greatly transformed by coal mining. Coalville, northwest of Leicester, was founded on and sustained by the mines, a centre among other mining centres. The rest of the county is famed for its scenery, including the hilly Charnwood Forest, rising above 900 feet and the Wolds in the northeast. In this unindustrial part of Leicestershire are many charming villages and rich farmland. Melton Mowbury, at the heart of fox-hunting country in the east of the shire, is the home of the eponymous pork pie. (Stilton cheese is also from Leicestershire, though named for a village in Huntingdonshire.) Even in Melton though one cannot escape indistrial history; the coal canal has been filled in but its gates stick up incongruously in the town's public park. Watling Street, once the border of the Danelaw, forms the border with Warwickshire to the southwest.
Main Towns:Ashby-de-La-Zouch, Coalville, Hinckley, Leicester, Loughborough, Lutterworth, Market Bosworth, Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray.
Main Rivers:Soar, Wreake.
Highlights:Belvoir Castle; Bosworth battlefield; Burrough Hill iron age fort; Castle Donnington; Charnwood Forest; Stanford Hall.
Highest Point:Bardon Hill, 912 feet.
Area:800 sq miles


52  LNC  Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a large county; in England the biggest after Yorkshire. It is divided into the three parts; Holland (the southwest), Kesteven (the southeast) and Lindsey (the north). The county lies along the North Sea coast and extends from the Humber estuary in the north to Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire in the south. The North Sea coast runs into the sea with long tidal mudflats and sandy beaches for its whole length, so that the tide may run out a mile from where the map shows. The southern end of the county's coast is part of the Wash. Lincolnshire is mainly flat with a great deal of drained fenland particularly in the south of the county. There is one remarkable range of hills; the Lincoln Edge, a narrow ridge which runs in a straight line almost due north for some forty miles, through Lincoln and on, though "the Heights" as it is known, will rarely reach even 200 feet above sea level. Only the Lincolnshire Wolds in western Lindsey and the hills spreading out of Leicestershire into Kesteven have any claim to altitude. The land of Lincolnshire is rich arable land. The City of Lincoln stands on the Lincoln Edge, tumbling down to the River Withan and up again. It is a city of mediæval charm, with a great castle at its peak. At the northern edge of the county are the Humber towns, Scarborough and Grimsby. Both are port towns. Immingham too, near Grimsby, is a main port for the Norwegian trade. At the very opposite end, on the southern border with Northamptonshire, Stamford is a jewel built in rich Barnack rag stone, which has made it every producer's favourite regency film set.
Main Towns:Boston, Bourne, Cleethorpes, Gainsborough, Grantham, Grimsby, Holbeach, Lincoln, Louth, Scunthorpe, Spalding, Stamford.
Main Rivers:Trent, Welland, Ancholme, Witham, Brant, Glen, Bain, Steeping.
Highlights:Boston Stump; Carr Dyke, Bourne; Lincoln Cathedral; Skegness; Tattersall Castle; the Wolds.
Highest Point:Normanby Top, The Wold, 551 feet.
Area:2,646 sq miles


53  LDR  Londonderry
Londonderry is a roughly cheese-wedge shaped rural county, bounded to east and south by Antrim and Tyrone respectively. County Londonderry sits on Ulster's north coast, stretching from the River Bann westward to the City of Londonderry and the border with the Irish Republic. Inland County Londonderry reaches to Lough Neagh. The county was created when the town of Derry was refounded as the City of Londonderry, from which it is thus named. The River Foyle runs through the western edges of the county, down to Londonderry itself and then into Lough Foyle. The Bann leaves Lough Neagh and runs due north to Coleraine and then into the Atlantic. Both Coleraine and the City of Londonderry spread onto both banks of their respective rivers. The south of the county is in the Sperrin Mountains. Ulster's second city, Londonderry is a historic walled city. It is known as "the Maiden City" as its walls have never been breached by an enemy. Londonderry and its history are embedded deep in the social mythology of all sides in Northern Ireland.
Main Towns:Coleraine, Londonderry, Magherafelt, Limavady.
Main Rivers:Bann, Roe, Claudy, Foyle.
Highlights:Earhart Centre, Ballyarnet; Sperrin Mountains; Magilligan Strand; Roe Valley Country Park.
Highest Point:Sawel, 2240 feet.
Area:816 sq miles


54  MRN  Merionethshire
Merionethshire (Meirionnydd) is a triangular county with a coast along Cardigan Bay and slicing deep into the Welsh mountains between Caernarfonshire and Denbighshire to the north and Montgomeryshire to the south. Much of Merionethshire is in Snowdonia, a land of rough mountainous terrain. The county's two rival county towns lie either side of the Snowdonia massif; Bala in the east at the head of Lake Bala, and Harlech on the coast in the west. The Merionethshire coast runs from the great inlet of Traeth Bach, south to the estuary of the River Dovey. Between the two is a third deep-cut sealoch, the Mawddach opening into Barmouth Bay. Hanging over the coast is the tiny town of Harlech, dominated by the remains of the Castle (and leaving the main street squeezed tight against mountain). Little more than a shell now, Harlech Castle served its turn from King Edward I to King Charles I, and it inspired the famous song.
Main Towns:Aberdovey, Bala, Barmouth, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Harlech, Dolgellau, Trawsfynydd.
Main Rivers:Dee, Mawr, Dovey.
Highlights:Calder Idris; Centre for Alternative Technology; Lake Bala; Harlech Castle; Ffestiniog Railway; Portmeirion; Snowdonia National Park.
Highest Point:Aran Fawddwy, 2972 feet.
Area:780 sq miles


55  MSX  Middlesex
Middlesex is the smallest English county after Rutland but the most populous in Britain. Middlesex is certainly the most urban county, being almost wholly covered by London and its outgrowths. Middlesex has been called "the Capital County" as the home of the capital city (whether you think that is London or Westminster). Unbroken townscape stretches from one side of the county to the other. This does however just link town to town without always erasing the distinctiveness of each Middlesex town and village. Most distinctive are the City of London and the City of Westminster adjoining it, the former housing the financial institutions of the kingdom and the latter its social, cultural and political institutions, and of course the top shops. The City of London is unique in being governed mainly by the business community which are, after all, its main inhabitants. London, by whatever definition, is a unique city and for all its faults the greatest, and most wonderous in the land, and second only to Edinburgh in any honest list of favourites. The change of perceptions, the growth of London and its monolithic grip on the imagination, has confined the name of Middlesex in many minds to the outer suburban fringe. Here there is a distinct suburban life. This is a mixture of calm communities, small towns and the communter belt. Within it towns such as Enfield, Ruislip and Uxbridge are distinct and loathe to call themselves "London". Middlesex is bounded on three sides by rivers; the Lea forms the eastern border with Essex, the Colne forms the western with Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, and the great River Thames is the southern border, against Surrey and Kent. Hertfordshire lies to the north. Some rural life survives along the Colne Valley forming Middlesex's western border and the northern stretches surrounding Potter's Bar. Potters Bar itself it a town separated from the conurbation, if individually urbanized in its own way.
Main Towns:Acton, Brentford, Camden Town, Chiswick, Edgware, Edmonton, Enfield, Fulham, Golders Green, Hackney, Hampstead, Hanworth, Harrow, Hendon, Highgate, Hounslow, London, Mill Hill, Millwall, Pinner, Potter's Bar, Soho, Staines, Stanmore, Tottenham, Uxbridge, Westminter, Whitechapel.
Main Rivers:Brent, Crane, Lea, Colne, Thames.
Highlights:Buckingham Palace; Harrow on the Hill; Hampton Court; Hampstead Hill; Hyde Park; Lord's Cricket Ground, Westminster Abbey; Syon House; St Paul's Cathedral; Tower of London; Houses of Parliament.
Highest Point:High Road, Bushey Heath, 509 feet.
Area:285 sq miles


56  LMT  Midlothian
Midlothian is county of contrasts. It lies on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth between, as the name suggests, East Lothian and West Lothian. Midlothian was once also called Edinburghshire, and indeed it is dominated by Edinburgh, though not as much as Middlesex is dominated by London, Edinburgh being a more restrained city and Midlothian the larger county. Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital, is possibly the loveliest city in Britain. Its heart is the Castle, perched high on its immemorial rock, and the Royal Mile that runs from the Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House, lined with historic buildings and monuments, all part of the national story. This was the main extent of Edinburgh before the Union. North of the Royal Mile is the eighteenth century "New Town", no longer new but with the Georgian charm with which it was built. Edinburgh has long since spread about it and incorporated its port, Leith. The grounds of Holyrood now host the new Scottish Parliament. In the midst of Edinburgh is Arthur's seat; a solitary hill, precipitous and natural, surrounded but untouched by cityscape. East and west of Edinburgh are dormitory towns, suburbs and industrial areas but to the south is a rural Midlothian still, with quieter towns and farms, soon rising into the high pastures of the Lammermuir Hills.
Main Towns:Bonnyrigg, Dalkeith, Edinburgh, Murrayfield, Musselburgh, Roslin.
Main Rivers:Almond, Braid Burn, North Esk, South Esk.
Highlights:Edinburgh - Arthur's Seat, Castle, Royal Mile, Holyroodhouse, New Town; Rosslyn Chapel; The Shore, Leith.
Highest Point:Blackhope Scar, 2136 feet.
Area:362 sq miles


57  MNM  Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire was once the heart of the Kingdom of Gwent, then the first of the Welsh territories brought directly into the English sphere. Some still debate whether it is of England or Wales, though most might consider the county motto Utrique Fedelis ("Faithful to Both") to be the final word. Monmouthshire is noted for its ruined abbeys and ruined castles and its unspoiled views. It stands between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire on the east, and Glamorgan in the west. The county begins at the Wye, the long, rich river entering the Severn south of Chepstow. Chepstow was founded on trade (its name means "market-place" in Old English) but the dominant feature is its Norman castle, for Chepstow Castle, on the Wye, marks the first Norman incursion into Wales. This eastern part of the county is a mirror of the Forest of Dean across the Wye; agricultural and dotted with small villages. The north and north-west of the county is mountainous, the Black Mountains extend into the county. The former coal mining valleys of the north-west of the county remain heavily populated, although there is no longer a working pit in the county. Towards the seaboard the land is flatter and lowland farming predominates. Newport, on the Usk, is a town grown large, now a city with suburbs, human and industrial, reaching out westwards towards Cardiff. North of Newport much has escaped the growth of concrete. The valleys of the Usk and the Wye are famed for beauty. In them are the towns of earlier invaders too, for the Romans left their mark in Caerwent (Venta Silurum) and Caerleon (Isca Silurum), each fancifully claimed as a site for Arthur's Camelot.
Main Towns:Abergavenny, Blackwood, Cwmbran, Chepstow, Ebbw Vale, Raglan, Monmouth, Newport, Pontypool, Tredegar, Usk.
Main Rivers:Monnow, Usk, Wye, Ebbw, Rumney.
Highlights:Agincourt Square, Monmouth; Caerleon Roman Baths & Ampitheatre; Chepstow Castle; Llanthony Priory; Tintern Abbey; Westgate Hotel, Newport; Transport Bridge, Newport; Wye Valley.
Highest Point:Chwarel-y-Fan, 2226 feet.
Area:530 sq miles


58  MTG  Montgomeryshire
Montgomeryshire is a mountainous county, most of it being in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains. The mountainsides provide high sheep pastures, largely unpeopled but for scattered farmsteads and hamlets. Some high passes slice through the hills, where rivers and streams have driven valleys. The western part of Montgomeryshire reaches out toward the coast at the Dovey estuary, a wedge between Merionethshire and Cardiganshire, but ends just above that water. It is in this part of the county, in the Dovey Valley, that the town of Machynlleth lies. Machynlleth is a small place, but it once tried to claim the title "capital of Wales" as the rebel Owain Glyndwr once summoned a parliament here. In the east of the county is lower land, a strip close up against the border with Shropshire. The main town is Welshpool, near the Severn and home of lordly Powis Castle. Montgomery itself, from which the county is named (and itself named after a Norman baron), is a village a few miles south, lying barely a mile from Shropshire. The River Severn runs northeastward through eastern Montgomeryshire before it turns east toward Shrewsbury.
Main Towns:Carno, Llanidloes, Llanfyllin, Llanrhaedr ym Mochnant, Llansantffaid ym Mechain, Montgomery, Machynlleth, Newtown, Welshpool.
Main Rivers:Severn, Fyrnwy, Tiannon, Afon, Garno, Mule, Rhiw, Camlet, Wye, Dovey.
Highlights:Parliament House, Machynlleth; Powis Castle; Market Hall, Llandiloes; Market Square, Montgomery.
Highest Point:Moel Sych, 2713 feet.
Area:780 sq miles


59  MOY  Morayshire
Morayshire lies on the south coast of the Moray Firth, between Nairnshire and Banffshire. It was formerly also called Elginshire from its county town. The shire stretches 30 miles along the coast but also runs deep inland. Along the sea-coast the shores are mostly low and sandy. It is a fishing and farming coast, the Firth rich with haddock and cod. A little inland it consists of fertile valleys, divided by low hills, producing crops and livestock. Further inland the fields gradually rise to the mountains. The main town, Elgin, lies inland a way, on the wee river, the Lossie. Downstream Lossiemouth is a fishing village best known for its RAF base. The main road from Aberdeen to Inverness runs through this coastward strip and here are the main villages. Above the impressive Findhorn Bay is a magnet for Shakespeareans; Forres where the Bard placed Duncan's royal palace. The southern portion of Morayshire is a contrast. It lies in the hills. A large portion at least on the lower slopes is covered by forest. The Spey, Lossie and Findhorn run from these hills, the Spey and the Findhorn with salmon and grilse, and the lochs with trout. Speyside in particular is renowned fishing country. Forestry is the industry of the hills, though a good income is made too from fishing and deer-stalking. Northward, Morayshire follows the Spey to Grantown on Spey, above which the serious mountains begin, in Inverness-shire.
Main Towns:Burghead, Duffus, Findhorn, Elgin, Fochabers, Lossiemouth.
Main Rivers:Spel, Lossie, Findhorn, Divie.
Highlights:Elgin Cathedral; Gordonstoun school; Sueno Stone, Forres; Nelson memorial, Cluny Hill.
Highest Point:Carn a'Ghille Chearr, 2329 feet.
Area:476 sq miles


60  NRN  Nairnshire
Nairnshire is a wee shire on the Moray Firth. It lies east of Inverness. Half of the county is moorland, the other half concentrated on the coast. Nairn is its only substantial town; a popular seaside resort boasting the longest sandy beach in Europe. The Links, Nairn is one of the finest golf courses in Scotland. The villages of Nairnshire crowd around Nairn and the coast. Southward the county stretches just 18 miles from the coast, into the hills. The River Findhorn runs through Strath Dearn in Nairnshire's hill districts, on its way to Findhorn Bay in neighbouring Morayshire.
Main Towns:Auldearn, Cawdor, Ferness, Nairn.
Main Rivers:Nairn, Findhorn.
Highlights:Calva Cairns ancient monument; Cawdor Castle; Culbin Sands RSPB reserve.
Highest Point:Carn-Glas-Choire, 2162 feet.
Area:200 sq miles


61  NRF  Norfolk
Norfolk is a large county in East Anglia, forming the round eastern rump of the land. The county is generally flat and intensely cultivated. The north-western corner of Norfolk is on the Wash, where once were marshland running many mailes inland, now drained, and the edge of the Great Fen. In the south-eastern part of Norfolk is another area of low ground; the Norfolk Broads. The Broads, strictly so called, are the wide lakes linked by rivers, though the name is applied to the whole area. The main rivers of the Broads and of Norfolk as a whole, are the Waveney, which marks the boundary with Suffolk, the Yare, which runs from Norwich, and the Bure. The whole area is barely feet above sea level, or lower. These rivers, together with the Broads themselves and many smaller rivers and creeks make up a network throughout western Norfolk, providing about 200 miles of inland waterways. The Broads are popular for boating holidays. Visitors to Norfolk are charmed by cornfields patterned with cornflowers and poppies, and windmills. There is higher ground in Norfolk too, in particular in the north of the county, out to the sea at Hunstanton, which is one of the highest places in the county. The Breckland district is a contrast, a country of open heathland and bracken, now much afforested. The coast of Norfok sweeps round in a great arc. At its southern end, eastward facing, is Great Yarmouth, a fishing town still but more a seaside resort. Cromer further north is another resort. On the north coast before the Wash, at Cley-nest-the Sea and Blakeney low tide reveals muddy marshes with long creeks reaching far out. Norwich, the county town is an ancient Cathedral City. Norwich can no longer boast of being England's second town, but it is the biggest in East Anglia. Norwich is famous for the number of its ancient parish churches. Amongst them the greatest church is the Cathedral, with one of the highest spires and one of the longest naves in the land, not overblown but all in perfect architectural harmony.
Main Towns:Blakeney, Cley-Next-The-Sea, Cromer, Downham Market, East Dereham, Great Witchingham, Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn, Norwich, Swaffham, Thetford, Wells-Next-The-Sea.
Main Rivers:Bure, Yare, Tas, Thet, Waveney, Little Ouse, Wissey, Nat, Ouse, Wensum.
Highlights:Broads; Britannia Pier & Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth; Grimes Graves neolithic flint mines; Norwich Castle & Cathedral.
Highest Point:Beacon Hill, 343 feet.
Area:2,044 sq miles


62  NHP  Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is an inland county. It was once known as the county of "spires and squires"; the haunt of wealthy landowners and a place with several fine mediæval church spires. It is said to be fine foxhunting country. Industry and new town developments have changed the face of Northamptonshire though. Corby was until recently one of the greatest steelworks towns, working the local iron ore. Other towns around it have grown up to service Corby industry or to hug the transport links that cross the shire. Northampton has long been famous for shoes. The industry is no longer dominant, but Northampton is the top location for the leatherworking trade. The town has grown substantially in the last decade or two since it was declared a New Town. The New town elements are the growing outskirts of the town; the centre remains that of a traditional market town. The north-eastern extremity of Northamptonshire is known as the Soke of Peterborough. The Soke has its origin in the Mid-Saxon period, when King Peada of Mercia founded an Abbey at "Medehamstede" and granted it extraordinary civil and ecclesiastical exemptions (or so a charter conveniently discovered much later claimed). "Medehamstede" in time became named "Peterborough". At the heart of Peterborough is its Cathedral, a fine Barnack rag construction slightly incongruous in what has become a modern City Centre. (Barnack itself, with a fine Anglo-Saxon church, lies to the north.) Peterborough is also a New Town, but more comprehensively than Northampton; whole new town suburbs and concrete multi-lane roads have been spread across the land and across the Nene into Huntingdonshire. Away from the developments Northamptonshire still retains a good deal of its old halls and manor houses and villages.
Main Towns:Brackley, Brixworth, Corby, Daventry, Earls Barton, Irthlingborough, Kettering, Northampton, Oundle, Rushden, Peterborough, Silverstone, Towcester, Wellingborough.
Main Rivers:Nene, Welland, Avon, Swift.
Highlights:Eleanor Cross, Northampton; Fotheringhay; Kirby Hall; Naseby battlefield; Peterborough Cathedral.
Highest Point:Arbury Hill, 738 feet.
Area:984 sq miles


63  NHB  Northumberland
Northumberland is a large county, very rural and very urban in its different parts. The coast of Northumberland stretches from the mouth of the Tyne to Berwick on Tweed. The Tynemouth is a major port, a busy industrial gateway, behind which is the Newcastle conurbation. North of the Tyne are a number of coastal towns but past Blythe is undisturbed rural Northumberland, where the coastline is generally low-lying and rocky, with numerous little bays. Bamburgh Castle sits perched on a precipitous rock; the first seat of the Northumbrian kings, though the castle itself is rather more recent. Opposite Bamburgh are the Farne Islands stretching into the North Sea, of which the largest and most famous is Lindisfarne or Holy Island, which was the first Christian missionary centre in Northumbria. Inland the bulk of the county is sparcely populated, a place of fells and dales amongst which the Cheviot Hills, spreading into Berwickshire, rise to 2,676 feet. Castles and peel towers abound; reminders of more lawless times. In complete contrast is Newcastle upon Tyne, one of the greatest cities of the kingdom. It sits on the north bank of the River Tyne, and thus on the boundary with County Durham. It is an industrial city, built on coal. Berwick-upon-Tweed is at the northernmost reach of Northumberland. On the north bank of the Tweed, there is still debate about whether it belongs to Northumberland at all, or to Bewwickshire, or whether it is a free burgh in neither. Hadrian's Wall crosses the south of Northumberland east to west, from Wallsend-on-Tyne out to the Solway coast in Cumberland; a remnant but an impressive one of the great Roman wall with forts and mile-castles dotted along it. Many Roman remains have been found along its length.
Main Towns:Alnwick, Berwick on Tweed, Haltwhistle, Hexham, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Seaton Delaval, Tweedmouth, Tynemouth, Wallsend, Whitley Bay.
Main Rivers:Tyne, Coquet, Rede, Aln.
Highlights:Bamburgh Castle; Flodden Field battlefield; Hadrian's Wall; Newcastle city centre and quayside; Whitley Bay.
Highest Point:The Cheviot, 2676 feet.
Area:2,018 sq miles


64  NOT  Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire stretches from the heart of the Midlands to the edge of Yorkshire. It is an entirely inland county, but low-lying; rarely reaching 600 feet above sea level. The River Trent, the great river of the Midlands, crosses southern Nottinghamshire as a broad stream. The City of Nottingham itself is one of the largest of the Midland towns. At its heart is a mediæval castle on a sandstone hill overlooking and commanding the Trent. The cliffs in and around Nottingham have caves, some man-made; the mediæval inn "The Trip to Jerusalem" is built into a cave, and higher up the Trent there were cave-dwellers into the twentieth century. (In the ninth century Asser said that Nottingham's name in Welsh was Tig Guocobauc: House of Caves.) North of Nottingham is Sherwood Forest, shrunk since the Middle Ages but still with many acres of woodland, particularly around Ollerton. Sherwood is famous as the legendary haunt of Robin Hood. Beyond Sherwood lie the great parks of "the Dukeries"; Clumber, Rufford, Thoresby, and Welbeck. However by this time Nottinghamshire has changed; by Ollerton the coal fields have begun and the county becomes industrialised. Western Nottinghamshire in particular is part of an industrial belt together with eastern Derbyshire. The mines, though much reduced, have created new villages and towns, which stretch in a belt up towards the Yorkshire boundary. The major towns in this part are Mansfield and Worksop "the capital of the Dukeries". The east of the county manages to remain agricultural. Here is found Southwell, home of a Cathedral of great architectural interest. The Fosse Way crosses the south and east of Nottinghamshire, part of its long course from Bath to Lincoln, and remarkably is almost devoid of villages along its route.
Main Towns:Beeston, Blidworth, Eastwood, Edwinstone, Mansfield, Newark on Trent, Nottingham, Retford, Southwell, Worksop.
Main Rivers:Trent, Idle, Maun, Devon.
Highlights:Major Oak, Edwinstone; Robin Hood Hills; Thoresby Hall; Wollaton Hall.
Highest Point:Silverhill, 671 feet.
Area:825 sq miles


65  ORN  Orkney
Orkney is a group of islands north of the mainland of Great Britain but clearly visible from the north coast of Caithness. Between Caithness and Orkney is the Pentland Firth. There are some 90 islands comprising Orkney, but fewer than a third are inhabited. The main island is Mainland. To the north of Mainland are many scattered islands including Shapinsay, Roussay, Egilsay, Westray and Papa Westray, Stronsay, Sanday, and the furthest, North Ronaldsay. From the south-east edge of Mainland a series of causeways built during the War runs southwards to Burray and then to South Ronaldsay. Lying to the southwest is Hoy. Unique among the islands, Hoy is mountainous. The rest are generally low, rocky, and treeless, with an occasional cultivated area. Hoy, Flotta, South Ronaldsay and Mainland form a ring around a great body of water; Scapa Flow. Scapa Flow is the Navy's finest deepwater anchorage, and famous also as the place where in 1918 Rear Admiral von Reuter scuttled the German High Seas Fleet rather than let it remain in British hands. The county town, Kirkwall is on Mainland. St Magnus's Cathedral, built by the Norse Earl Røgnvald, is an impressive edifice, and the town's dominant feature. Across the islands of Orkney are prehistoric remains of standing stones, mounds and monuments. The folk of Orkney though claim Norwegian blood. King Harold I (Harold Fairhair) of Norway added Orkney to the Scandinavian domain in 875, long after the Norse had settled the islands, and made them a Norwegian Earldom. The islands remained nominal dependencies of Norway until 1468, when Christian I of Norway and Denmark pledged them as security for the dowry of his daughter, Margaret, on her marriage to James III of Scotland. The pledge was never redeemed, and Orkney remained the property of Scotland. Nevertheless, the islanders, while proud to be British, insist that they are not Scots but Orcadians.
Main Towns:Balfour, Kirkwall, Pierowall, St Margaret's Hope, Stromness.
Main Rivers:None.
Highlights:St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall; Scapa Flow, Mainland; Old Man of Hoy; Skara Brae ancient monument.
Highest Point:Ward Hill, Hoy, 1565 feet.
Area:376 sq miles


66  OXD  Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire lies alomg the River Thames, and stretches northward into the Cotswold Hills. It is mainly known for the City of Oxford, but there is far more to the county. Oxford is the seat of the oldest university in Britain, and one of the most prestigious in the world. Oxford has a wealth of ancient colleges and university buidlings with beautiful buildings which define and shape the town. At Oxford the Cherwell meets the Thames. Down by where the rivers meet are meadows belonging, like much of the city, to the colleges. The cathedral is by the meadows too, rather overlooked. Oxford though also has another side as a manufacturing town, centred in Cowley. The Thames forms the whole of Oxfordshire's southern border, stretching for about 70 miles. The south of Oxfordshire is in the middle and upper reaches of the Thames Valley. At Kelmscot, at the south-western corner of the shire, the Thames is a modest river, though just navigable. Downstream from here as the river widens, the county is a place of idyllic villages, down to Oxford itself. At Oxford the river, and thus the county border, takes a sudden turn south, with few towns of any size until the river reaches Reading. Dorchester on Thames was in Saxon times a major monastic centre and the seat of a bishopric which covered much of the eastern Midlands, though it is now a small village. Caversham lies opposite Reading. Some miles below Caversham is Henley on Thames, a very wealthy town and famous for the annual Henley Regatta. Lower still is Marlow, Henley's quieter cousin. North of Henley and Marlow the Chilterns begin. The Chilterns are better known in Buckinghamshire, but there are many fine walks to be had in the Oxfordshire hills. The north of Oxfordshire in contrast is within the Cotswolds. Some of the finest Cotswold towns are to be found here, the main town being Chipping Norton, with an impressive high street and coaching inns all in the honey coloured stone found throughout the Cotswolds. The rivers Windrush, Evenlode and Cherwell cut through this part of the Cotswold Hills. North of the Cotswolds lies Oxfordshire's second town, Banbury, once a centre of the purest Puritanism.
Main Towns:Bicester, Burford, Caversham, Chipping Norton, Dorchester, Goring-on-Thames, Henley-on-Thames, Oxford, Thame, Witney, Woodstock.
Main Rivers:Thames, Evenlode, Cherwell, Windrush.
Highlights:Blenheim Palace; Cropredy Bridge battefield; High Street, Burford; Oxford; Rollright Stones.
Highest Point:Bald Hill, 843 feet (SU 729 958).
Area:756 sq miles


67  PBS  Peeblesshire
Peeblesshire is in the heart of the hills where the Southern Upland and Lammermuir Hills merge. Of the shires along the Tweed it is the highest in aggregate. The Tweed rises at Tweed's Well, at the southern edge of Peeblesshire and runs north through the shire in a steep valley between the mountains, entering the fine area of Upper Tweeddale and shortly afterward reaching its northernmost point by Peebles itself before heading east and eventually into Selkirkshire. Glentress Forest is a vast woodland of Scots Pine, Douglas firs, spruce and larch. The town of Peebles, the only town of any size in the county, was once a popular spa town. It is still a fine holiday destination.
Main Towns:Broughton, Innerleithen, Peebles, Traquair, Tweedsmuir, West Linton.
Main Rivers:Tweed, Lyne, Manner, Leithen, Quair.
Highlights:Traquair House; Neidpath Castle; St Ronan's Well, Innerleithen.
Highest Point:Broad Law, 2754 feet.
Area:548 sq miles


68  PMB  Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro) forms the south-western extremity of Wales. In the Middle Ages so many English and Flemish settlers colonized Pembrokeshire that it became known as "Little England beyond Wales". However there is a divide in the county; the south is firmly English-speaking while the north is largely Welsh-speaking. The long coast of Pembrokeshire is famed. From the north the county begins at the Teifi estuary, across which lies Cardiganshire. From there the "heritage coast" runs south to the broad sands of the Nevern mouth and Newport, then with wild cliffs and headlands (past Fishguard, a port for ferries to Rosslare) out to the westernmost headland opposite Ramsey Island. The northern spur of Pembrokeshire is the St David's Peninsula. Here is St David's; a village which is a City. It has a cathedral which is said to be the biggest church in Wales, because Saint David established his monastery here in 550. The western part of the coast opens into a big mouth some ten miles across; St Bride's Bay. The southern coast of Pembrokeshire soon falls into Milford Haven, the finest natural harbour in the world according to Nelson. Milford Haven is a broad deepwater inlet, and serves two major ports; the town of Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock. The former is a major oil terminal. The Haven runs far further inland though, deep into Pembrokeshire and forming a great inland system of seawater creeks and channels in the heart of the county. The town of Pembroke (which appears to have been named after its shire, not the shire from the town) is a modest town, largely serving its port. The other major town is Haverfordwest. Although Pembrokeshire has major industrial ports and transport, these are localized and the rest of the county is rolling countryside with small villages. Pembrokeshire is not mountainous compared with other Welsh counties. The highest ground is Prescelly (or Preseli), an individual moorland rising to 1,760 feet in the north-west of the county, above Newport.
Main Towns:Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Narberth, Newport, Neyland, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, St David's, St Dogwell's, Tenby.
Main Rivers:Eastern Cleddau, Western Cleddau, Nevern Gwann, Solva.
Highlights:St David's Cathedral & Bishop's Palace; Pentre Ifan burial chamber; Pembrokeshire Coastal Path National Park; Preseli Mountains; Skomer Island.
Highest Point:Foel Cwmcerwyn, 1760 feet.
Area:655 sq miles


69  PRT  Perthshire
Perthshire stands across the division between the Highlands and the Lowlands. It is a large shire, mainly of mountain but by population mainly lowland. The main towns of Perthshire lie in the low ground formed by the dales of the Rivers Tay and Earn. The Firth of Tay divided the county from Fife. Westward, Perthshire is bounded on the south by Kinross-shire and Clackmannanshire, then the River Forth, which forms the boundary with Stirlingshire. The City of Perth, the Dark Age capital of Scotland, is on the River Tay where it broadens before becoming the Firth. Nearby is the site of Scone Abbey where royal coronations took place. Between the Firth of Tay and Strathmore are the Siddaw Hills, shared with Angus. The whole north of Perthshire is taken up with the Grampian Mountains, out to the bounds of Inverness-shire. Some of the greatest spectacles of the Grampians are found in the Perthshire. The mountain towns of Pitlochry on the upper Tay (famed for salmon fishing), Blair Atholl and the Forest of Atholl and Crianlarich are in the Grampians. There are also grand and beautious lochs slicing through the landscape, including Loch Rannoch and Loch Tay. A detached portion of Perthshire, some 6 miles long by 4½ miles broad, lies along the upper reach of the Firth of Forth, separated from the main body by a belt of Fife and Clackmannanshire.
Main Towns:Abernethy, Blackford, Coupar Angus, Doune, Callander, Dunblane, Killen, Perth, Pilochry, Scone.
Main Rivers:Tay, Garry.
Highlights:Blair Castle; Drummond Castle; Trossachs; Gleneagles Hotel; Scone Palace.
Highest Point:Ben Lawers, 4004 feet.
Area:2,493 sq miles


70  RDN  Radnorshire
Radnorshire (Sir Faesyfed) is almost entirely within the mountains. It has no large towns. Its hills are uncultivatable but rich in sheep grazing, and a delight for wild-country enthusiasts. The southern part of the county is taken up by the Radnor Forest, a place of moors, woods and rivers. There are rich valleys where rivers run down through the hills. The River Wye rises above Rhayader, and these upper stretches are very picturesque. Hereabouts too are the Elan Valley Lakes. The Wye marks Radnorshire's southern border with Brecknockshire. Its northern borders are with Shropshire on the River Teme and with Montgomeryshire. New Radnor, the county town, was founded and named by Earl Harold Godwinsson (later King Harold II) at the conclusion of his campaign in Wales. It is a small market town with impressive earthworks and a fallen castle. Nearby is the Water-Break-its-Neck waterfall. The picturesque rolling countryside of the Teme Valley around Knighton has been noted. Knighton itself sits astride the border of Radnorshire and Shropshire.
Main Towns:Aberedw, Knighton, Knucklas, Llandrindod Wells, Llanelwedd, New Radnor, Painscastle, Rhayader, Presteigne.
Main Rivers:Wye, Elan, Ithon.
Highlights:Abbeycwmhir; Jacket's Well burial chamber; Llandrindod Wells; Offa's Dyke at Knighton; Elan Valley reservoirs.
Highest Point:Great Rhos, 2166 feet.
Area:485 sq miles


71  RNF  Renfrewshire
Renfrewshire lies on the south bank of the Clyde, stretching from the southern Glasgow suburbs to the coast opposite Cowal. The main towns of Renfrewshire are in the east of the shire, within Glasgow or close by. The largest town is Paisley, an industrial town west of Glasgow. Renfrew itself lies a few miles northward on the bank of the Clyde and almost contiguous with the Glasgow conurbation. The M8 and A8 run westward along the Firth of Clyde. The Firth of Clyde is a major commercial and industrial centre, and this coast is lined with shipyards, once the busiest in the Empire. Here are Port Glasgow and Greenock, and at the westernmost the more modest resort and passenger ferry port at Gourock. The east of Renfrewshire is characterized by urban growth. To the west south of the coastal strip is higher ground which remains largely unspoilt.
Main Towns:Abbotsinch, Barrhead, Eaglesham, Gourock, Greenock, Linwood, Newton Mearns, Paisley, Port Glasgow, Renfrew.
Main Rivers:Rotten Burn, Black Cart, White Cart.
Highlights:Paisley Abbey; Shiedhill Glen; Wemyss Bay.
Highest Point:Hill of Stake, 1711 feet.
Area:245 sq miles


72  RSS  Ross-shire
Ross-shire stretches from the North Sea coast to the Atlantic coast, standing between Inverness-shire and Sutherland. It is a severe, mountainous shire dominated by the Northwest Highlands. Physically it is divided into Easter Ross and Wester Ross. The coast of Wester Ross is deeply indented with craggy sealochs and with scattered islands. Easter Ross has a gentler coast with fertile land, notably on the Black Isle between the Cromarty Firth and the Beauly Firth. The county town is Dingwall at the head of the Cromarty Firth. Its name is Norse, a memory of the extent of Norwegian power in the north. Ross-shire also includes the Isle of Lewis. (The Isle of Lewis is divided from the Isle of Harris in Inverness-shire by Loch Seaforth, Loch Resort and a hilly land border between them.) Lewis is largely low-lying, the whole middle covered in peat, its only town being Stornaway on the east coast. Scattered across Ross-shire are enclaves of Cromartyshire.
Main Towns:Dingwall, Gairloch, Kyle of Lochalsh, Fortrose, Port of Ness, Tain, Stornoway, Strathpeffer.
Main Rivers:Oykel, Carron.
Highlights:Abbey of Fearn; Glenmorangie distillery, Tain; Isle of Lewis; Shandwick Stone..
Highest Point:Carn Eige, 3877 feet.
Area:3,089 square miles


73  RXB  Roxburghshire
Roxburghshire stretches across the northern side of the Cheviot Hills, equally distant from the North Sea and the Solway Firth. Upper Liddlesdale in the south of the shire runs south-westward. In the north, Teviotdale runs north-east, joining the Tweed at Kelso. Roxburghshire is an agricultural county of small villages. It has three fine towns; Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso. In Jedburgh are the remains of an abbey founded by King David I, still impressive in their shell. Kelso, which was also the site of one of King David's abbeys, grew after the town of Roxburgh was destroyed by warfare in 1470. Today's Roxburgh is a village on the Teviot a few miles away. At the northern peak of the shire is the lovely area of Eildon and Lauderfoot, beneath the Eildon Hills where the Lauder meets the Tweed. Within are Melrose and Newtown St Boswells.
Main Towns:Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Liddesdale, Melrose, Newton St Boswells, Roxburgh, Town Yetholm.
Main Rivers:Tweed, Teviot, Liddel, Jed, Ettrick, Gala, Leader, Eden.
Highlights:Eilden Hills; Floors Castle; Melrose Abbey; Smailholm Tower, Kelso.
Highest Point:Auchop Cairn, 2422 feet.
Area:666 sq miles


74  RTL  Rutland
Rutland is the smallest county in England, and indeed the smallest of them all after Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire. Rutland is the heart of the Midlands. Rutland is almost entirely agricultural, the only towns of any size being Oakham and Uppingham, both small and charming. Elsewhere Rutland is characterized by delightful villages. Those in the east of the county are built mostly in oolitic limestone, those in the south and west more in warm limestone. Rutland is a well watered place; the Eye Brook, the Chater, and the Gwash flowing through green vales between rolling hills. The south-eastern border is the Welland. The Gwash was dammed in the 1970s, flooding a huge area for a reservoir; Rutland Water. Although its construction was the subject of considerable opposition and involved the demolition of the hamlet of Nether Hambleton, Rutland Water today provides a major recreational resource to the county and is a wetland of international wildlife importance. Around Uppingham the ground rises into broken and picturesque scenery. The county town, Oakham lies in the Vale of Catmose. It is a small, charming market town centred around a small square and market-cross. Oakham Castle, within the town, is a fortified manor house with an important 12th century great hall and home of an extraordinary collection of presentation horseshoes.
Main Towns:Cottesmore, Ketton, Oakham, Market Overton, Uppingham.
Main Rivers:Welland, Eye, Gwash, Chater.
Highlights:Market place, Oakham; Oakham School; Rutland Water.
Highest Point:Flitteriss Park, 646 feet (SK 827 085).
Area:152 sq miles


75  SKK  Selkirkshire
Selkirkshire lies between Peeblesshire to the north and Roxburghshire southward. The shire is mountainous for the most part, but with softer slopes that are found in more northerly parts. Streams water the slopes and the whole produces a landscape which has inspired songs of the pastoral idyll. Selkirkshire was formerly also named Etterick Forest, and the area of the Etterick Forest covers much of the shire. However it is no longer an extensive deer-filled woodland reserved for royal hunts as once it was; the woods have been almost wholly cut down. Sheep have taken the place of the deer on the hills and the shepherd the place of the huntsman. The west of Selkirkshire is the high ground of the Tweedsmuir Hills, and here rise the county's two rivers, the Ettrick and the Yarrow. Both have been celebrated in traditional songs (and Wordsworth was moved to more when he sought the Yarrow out). They run parallel down to the lower dales, meeting just above Selkirk. The river then falls into the Tweed at Galashiels, a town that straddles the Selkirkshire - Berwickshire boundary. Selkirk and Galashiels are Selkirkshire's only substantial towns.
Main Towns:Ettrickbridge, Galasheils, Selkirk.
Main Rivers:Ettrick, Yarrow, Cawder.
Highlights:Scott's house, Abbotsford; St Mary's Loch; Mount Ettrick; Halliwell's House Museum and Gallery, Selkirk.
Highest Point:Ettrick Pen, 2269 feet.
Area:267 sq miles


76  SHT  Shetland
Shetland is the northernmost part of the Kingdom, 93 miles north of mainland Great Britain at its closest, and 45 miles north of Orkney. Shetland is a scattering of stark-featured, windswept islands. It has over a hundred islands, some twenty of them inhabited, and countless islets, rocks and skerries. The Norse heritage of Shetland is worn openly. The islands are 180 miles west of Norway. They were part of the Earldom of Orkney from the tenth century and together with Orkney were pledged to the Crown of Scotland only in 1472. The links with Norway remained though; the nearest city to Shetland is Bergen and Shetland fishermen always bought their boats from Norway as there are no trees in Shetland. The Norse language is said to have survived in Shetland to the end of the eighteenth century. Though linked to Orkney historically, Shetland is very different. While Orkney is islands of low rolling hills, Shetland's islands are mountainous, steep and rocky. Another difference is oil; Orkney keeps its rural aspect but Shetland is the hub for the outer oil rigs and a port for Norwegian yachtsmen, and money shows. The main island of Shetland is Mainland. Lerwick, the county town, is seated in the middle of the island, on the east coast, protected by the island of Burray across the sound. From Lerwick to Sumburgh Head in the south, a spine stretches due south as a broad ridge, steep on the east but with its scarp plunging far down into the sea on the west incredibly steeply. North of Lerwick the island broadens, with a scattering of rock-bound islands deeply cut with voes (fjords). On the west coast of Mainland opposite Lerwick is the former capital, Scalloway, now a fishing port but home also to the remains of a mediæval earl's hall. An earlier centre lies between the two, at Tingwall; a peedie peat island in bog but which was for a long period the law-seat of Norse Shetland. North of Mainland, across the Yell Sound, is Yell and north of Yell is Unst, the northernmost inhabited island in the United Kingdom. North of it are Muckle Flugga and Out Stack; the utter northernmost rocks of the United Kingdom.
Main Towns:Baltasound, Lerwick, Scalloway, Sumburgh, Stonybrech.
Main Rivers:None.
Highlights:Clickimin broch, Lerwick; Croft House Museum, Baddam; Jarlshof neolithic settlement; Noup of Noss seabird colony.
Highest Point:Ronas Hill, Northmaven, 1475 feet.
Area:551 sq miles


77  SHP  Shropshire
Shropshire is a large county; the largest of the shires without a coastline. It remains rural except in one intense district of industrialisation and urbanization at Telford and Ironbridge. The River Severn shapes much of Shropshire. It passes through the middle of the county forming a broad, rich valley and floodplain. The Severn curls around Shrewsbury, the county town like a moat. Shrewsbury is a town built on a hill above the Severn with a mediæval castle and Tudor streets. It was King Charles I's capital for a while too. Further downstream the Seven enters the Severn Gorge where it is bridged by the famous Iron Bridge, a symbol of the Industrial Revolution which took root here. The town of Ironbridge which grew up from the works around the bridge, is no longer at the cutting edge of industrial advances; it is a heritage centre. Immediately north though is the growing New Town of Telford; modern modernity encapsulated. However a mile or so west is witness to earlier ages; the Wrekin, a lone, massive hill dominating the landscape and imagination and which has given a name since immemorial time to the area; Roman Viroconium, Saxon Wrocensæt, Wroxeter and Wrockwardine, and a contemporary administrative district. Downstream of Ironbridge is Bridgenorth, a town full of history on a precipitous hill above the Seven. The ruin of its castle stares down over the Severn Valley it once commanded. North of the Severn the landscape is flat, and given over to agriculture. Around Ellesmere is a group of small lakes, the "meres", including Ellesmere itself. However westward the hills begin to rise. At the edge of this area is the historic town of Oswestry. South of the Severn Shropshire has new scenic glories of wilder hills, especially westward towards Radnorshire. In this part of the shire are high, rounded hills, deep-set valleys, and woods full of charm all around. The chief town of the south of the county is Ludlow, set on a hill and the former capital of Wales (despite not being in Wales). Ludlow retains its age-worn charm and is full of fine timbered houses. In the town itself is Ludlow Castle. North are the distinctive long hills of the district such as the Long Mynd and Wenlock Edge (an inspiration for Housman's A Shropshire Lad).
Main Towns:Bishops Castle, Bridgnorth, Church Stretton, Dawley, Donnington, Ellesmere, Ludlow, Coalbrookedale, Newport, Oswestry, Shrewsbury, Telford.
Main Rivers:Severn, Perry, Roden, Tern, Clun, Onny, Corve, Rea.
Highlights:Cliff railway, Bridgnorth; Ironbridge; The Wrekin; The Long Mynd.
Highest Point:Brown Clee Hill, 1772 feet.
Area:1,343 sq miles


78  SMS  Somerset
Somerset stretches along the southern shore of the Severnmouth and the Bristol Channel from the Avon to Exmoor. In the heart of the county are the Somerset Levels, a remarkable flat land reaching in from the Bristol Channel, divided in two by the low range of the Polden Hills. The land of the Levels is at or around sea level and in former days was regularly flooded (and some have suggested that Somerset's gets its name from the reappearance of the land in the summer). The Levels are cross-crossed with "rhines", drainage ditches, and that many of the villages' names end in -ey, "-island" tells of life before the Somerset Levels were drained. One of the most dramatic features here is Glastonbury Tor, a lone hill rising steeply out of the landscape above the town of Glastonbury (reputed burial place of King Arthur and a magnet for newly invented "ancient" legends). More historically, King Alfred of Wessex hid in the Levels at Athelney, before bursting forth and defeating the Danes to restore England. Bath, on the River Avon in the north of Somerset, was the fashionable retreat for Georgian gentry and now a destination for anyone. It is home to the only natural hot springs in Britain, the pungent water pouring forth at a great rate from hidden wells beneath. On this the Romans built their town and others followed. The result of Regency fashion and local stone is one of the most remarkable cities in the kingdom. Downstream is Bristol, of the great cities of the realm, split in the middle between Somerset and Gloucestershire. Somerset is known for its apples. (Legend-seekers place the Avalon of legend here, as "Aval" means "apple" in the old tongue.) Apples are widely grown in Somerset, and consequently the county is known also for its cider. Somerset can claim to be the home of Cheddar cheese too, which was first made in Cheddar, a village at the foot of the spectacular Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills. Wells, home of Bishop of Bath and Wells, lies in the middle of the county. It is a small market town with a large cathedral of unique architecture, and a castle. Taunton, the county town is a modest place, built on the wool trade. The western end of Somerset is the wild moorland of Exmoor.
Main Towns:Bath, Bristol (south), Burnham-on-Sea, Clevedon, Glastonbury, Minehead, Shepton Mallett, Somerton, Taunton, Wells, Weston-super-Mare, Yeovil.
Main Rivers:Barle, Yeo, Avon, Exe, Tone, Parrett, Brue, Cary, Frome, Isle.
Highlights:Roman Baths, Bath; Cheddar Gorge; The Mendips; The Quantocks; Glastonbury Abbey & Tor; Isle of Athelney.
Highest Point:Dunkery Beacon, 1706 feet.
Area:1,640 sq miles


79  STF  Staffordshire
Staffordshire stretches from the Black Country in the south into forest in the north. South-eastern Staffordshire is covered by urban growth arising from its central part in the Industrial Revolution. This is the Black Country, rich in coal mines and strung with industrial canals. The heavy industry of the nineteenth century gathered here and in nearby Birmingham, so that all have grown together into a giant conurbation of communities, in which are the City of Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Walsall and Wednesbury. In complete contrast, elsewhere there is fine natural scenery. Dovedale, on the boundary of Staffordshire, and Beresford Dale are renowned. The high ground in the north of the county north of Leek has beautiful valleys as the land rises up to the Peak District. The Potteries district lies on the upper Trent, where Stoke on Trent and Newcastle under Lyme have grown together. In the centre of the county is Stafford itself. Lichfield is one of the smaller cities of the land. Restrained in its houses and shops, the city has a large and ornate three-spired mediæval cathedral. The bishopric is one of the oldest in Britain (and indeed it became briefly the seat of an archbishop under King Offa). Eastward there remains something of the open heaths of Cannock Chase. Burton-on-Trent in the east is historically the heart of the brewing industry, a continuing tradition.
Main Towns:Burslem, Burton upon Trent, Hanley, Leek, Lichfield, Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Uttoxeter, Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton.
Main Rivers:Trent, Penk, Sow, Blithe, Tean, Dove, Churnet, Tame.
Highlights:Alton Towers; Castle Ring hill fort; Lichfield Cathedral; Wightwick Bank; Wedgwood factory, Barlaston; Weston Park.
Highest Point:Cheeks Hill, 1705 feet.
Area:1,171 sq miles


80  STL  Stirlingshire
Stirlingshire stands across the gateway of the Highlands. The county spreads across the narrow band from the head of the Firth of Forth across the low hills of the Campsie Fells to Loch Lomond and within 4 miles of the Firth of Clyde. The Campsie Fells rise to 1,896 feet at the highest, a low rolling range which with the Kilsyth, Fintry and Gargunnock Hills covers the bulk of the county. The Forth marks Stirlingshire's northern boundary, with Perthshire. The boundary runs from the head of Loch Lomond to the Forth and into the Firth, a short way above which is the City of Stirling, the county town. Stirling stands on a precipitous hill above the River Forth, crowned with an eleventh century castle. Stirling was Scotland's capital or co-capital for centuries. Its importance though is also in its position; in the Middle Ages Stirling Bridge was portrayed as the only link joining the Lowlands to the Highlands, and the geography of the land was not far from it. The castle was the scene of fearsome clashes in the wars which racked the British Isles in the Middle Ages. Stirling is a somewhat more peaceful city these days, but it is still the major conduit for road and rail from the Lowlands to the Highlands. Falkirk, the second town of the shire, is the centre of an urban conglomeration and industrial activity.
Main Towns:Bonnybridge, Bridge of Allan, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Lennoxtown, Milngavie, Stirling.
Main Rivers:Bannockburn, Carron, Avon, Teith, Allan, Devon, Enfrick, Kelvin.
Highlights:Bannockburn battlefield; Cambuskenneth Abbey; Loch Lomond; Stirling Castle; Wallace Memorial, Stirling.
Highest Point:Ben Lomond, 3192 feet.
Area:447 sq miles


81  SFF  Suffolk
Suffolk the eastermost county in Britain. It is a rural county of flat landscape. It lies between Norfolk and Essex, divided from Norfolk by the Waveney and the Little Ouse (which rise within yards of each other in the same marsh before running in opposite directions). Suffolk's southern boundary is the Stour. To the east lies the North Sea. The coast of Suffolk is smooth and sandy but prone to depridations from the sea. Dunwich was once a great port and indeed a capital of the Kingdom of East Anglia but it is now wholly lost to the sea and the low sandy cliffs are still retreating. Southward though Orford Ness lies on a long strip of new land between the River Ore and the sea. The southernmost point of Suffolk is Landguard Point by Felixstowe, a substantial commercial port. It is at this point that the deep Deben, Orwell, and Stour estuaries converge. Upriver on the Orwell from Felixstowe is Ipswich, the county's main town. At the northern part of the coast is the other substantial port town, Lowestoft. Lowestoft Ness is the easternmost point of the United Kingdom. North of Lowestoft is Suffolk's northermost corner, a little land of villages in the Suffolk Broads. The Suffolk Broads are less well known than the Norfolk Broads but are a extension of them, formed in the sea-level flood plain of the Waveney. Breedon Water, forming part of the boundary with Norfolk, is the largest of the Broads in either county. In the north-west of Suffolk are open heaths of bracken and broken woodland. The further west, close to Cambridgeshire, is in the Great Fen. The main town in the west is Bury St Edmunds, a small, pretty town around a large cathedral; St Edmundsbury Abbey. Bury St Edmunds is the centre of the beet sugar industry. Furthest west is the Newmarket-Exning bubble, joined to the rest of the county at a point. Newmarket is completely dominated by horseracing and its concomitant occupations. Stud farms line the lanes and the heaths are filled with meadows and racetracks. Suffolk is famous for its exquisitly picturesque villages. The best are found in the Stour valley, "Constable Country", including Cavendish, Clare, Lavenham and Long Melford, characterized by thatch and brightly coloured plaster. Pargetting is a prominent feature, reaching its peak of artistry in Suffolk. Many Suffolk churches are large and ornate beyond the size of their villages, built on the wealth of wool and weaving.
Main Towns:Aldeburgh, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Framlington, Gorleston, Haverhill, Long Melford, Lowestoft, Newmarket, Woodbridge.
Main Rivers:Deben, Stour, Waveney, Lark.
Highlights:Dunwich Cliffs; Lavenham; Flatford Mill; Kersey; Minsmere RSPB reserve.
Highest Point:Great Wood, Rede, 419 feet.
Area:1,489 sq miles


82  SUR  Surrey
Surrey is a relatively small county but heavily populated. The northeast of Surrey lies within the Metropilitan conurbation. In this area are numerous contiguous towns varying socially from the wealthy and exclusive to the more ordinary city neighbourhoods. In this area are Southwark, oppposite the City of London, home of a Cathedral and of much of the broadcast media; Lambeth, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury; Brixton; Wandsworth; and the wealthy towns of Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames. Richmond Palace, now demolished, was a favourite home of the Tudor monarchs, while Kingston has an older royal claim as the coronation place of several Anglo-Saxon kings. Outside the Metropolis are towns which are themselves often largely commuter towns. Surrey's communter suburbs have become the essence of our understanding of "Suburbia". In the very south of Surrey is Gatwick Airport, a gateway to London, and the consequent swathe of motorway corridor cutting through the farmland to meet the M25. The M25, the London Orbital, is itself an unavoidable feature of the Surrey landscape, with the motorway and all the junctions, slip roads and related equipment slicing through and reshaping the outer suburbs. Further from London the villages become smaller and very pleasant. The North Downs, a range of fine chalk hills and downland, stretch across Surrey from Guildford into Kent. The Downs are a mixture of chalk, meadow and dense woodland. Box Hill provides a fine viewpoint over its sudden southern scarp slope. Further hills lie to the south, beautifully wooded in places. The highest point is Leith Hill, at 965 feet but with a manmade tower added to take it up to above 1,000 feet. The brooks that run in the denes between the hills of Surrey have numerous beautiful villages along them. The major rivers of Surrey are the Thames, which forms its whole northern boundary, the Mole and the Wey. The Mole cuts through the Downs under Box Hill in a beautiful wooded valley. The Wey, further west, has several towns on its banks, including Guildford, the county town. Guildford is a large market town with an attractive high street. Guildford is built in a notch in the hills where the Wey breaks through, and the roads of the county try to force the same gap. On either side the town climbs the slopes, precipitously on occasion. Some miles west, linked to Guildford by the Hog's Back ridge, is Farnham, a town with well-kept Tudor and Georgian buildings and a twelfth century castle once belonging to the Bishops of Winchester.
Main Towns:Battersea, Brixton, Clapham, Croydon, Epsom, Farnham, Gatwick, Guildford, Haselmere, Kington-upon-Thames, Leatherhead, Richmond, Southwark, Wandsworth, Wimbledon, Woking.
Main Rivers:Mole, Wey, Thames, Eden.
Highlights:Richmond Park; Kew Gardens; North Downs; Runnymede; Thorpe Park.
Highest Point:Leith Hill, 965 feet.
Area:758 sq miles


83  SUS  Sussex
Sussex on the south coast is the county of the South Downs and the sea. Its coastline is more than 80 miles long, with sandy beaches almost unbroken along its whole length from Chichester Harbour to Camber Sands. The South Downs stretch almost the length of Sussex, from the Hampshire border to Beachy Head. Sussex was once a Kingdom, until overwhelmed and absorbed in the ninth century. The coastal strip of Sussex squeezed between the South Downs and the English Channel are what makes "Sussex by the Sea" so famous. Here are a long string of beach resorts including Bognor, Worthing, Hove and of course Brighton, the most famous of them all. Past Beachy Head lie Eastbourne, Bexhill-on-Sea and Hastings. Brighton is a most remarkable town. Its beachfront is the quintessential seaside resort, with two pleasure piers (albeit that one went on fire a few years ago leaving the Palace Pier without competition for now), and the rest of the town has a greater range of eccentric shops than anywhere else. In its heart is the higgledy-piggledy maze of The Lanes, and behind it the rampant indo-chinoiserie of King George IV's seaside palace, the Brighton Pavilion. Hastings is a well-to-do seaside town and resort. Looming over it on are the remains of the castle William the Bastard built on landing on his way to become the Conqueror at Senlac Hill, now the village of Battle, 6 miles to the northwest. Above the seaside towns the Downs rise sharply, and here Sussex shows some of its greatest glories. The chalk can make a great rolling wave, falling into the sea in spectacular white cliffs as at the Seven Sisters and Beachey Head. The open grassland is fine sheep country, or elsewhere the clay feeds rich broadleaved forest. Inland the Weald is a hilly district of woods and coombes, the remains of the great forest which covered much of the South East. The inland towns of Sussex include the outer edge of the London commuter belt and Crawley, an industrial town serving Gatwick Airport just over the border in Surrey. The county town is Chichester, which lies at the western end of Sussex. Chichester is a modest cathedral city, sitting on a Roman foundation (the Roman wall is still visble in places) and centred on a mediæval market cross. Chichester Harbour (a top yachting haven) is a large natural harbour, by far the biggest in Sussex and a contrast to the smooth stretch of the rest of the county's coast.
Main Towns:Arundel, Battle, Bexhill-on-Sea, Bognor Regis, Brighton, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, Lewes, Hastings, Horsham, Hove, Midhurst, Rye, Southwick, Worthing.
Main Rivers:Arun, Adur, Cuckmere, Ouse, Rother.
Highlights:Battle; Brighton - Royal Pavilion, Grand Hotel, Palace Pier; Hastings castle; South Downs.
Highest Point:Blackdown Hill, 918 feet.
Area:1,458 sq miles


84  SRL  Sutherland
Sutherland, in spite of its name, is one the two northernmost counties in mainland Great Britain. It stretches across the north end of the land from the Atlantic to the North Sea. Although often linked to its smaller neighbour, Caithness, Sutherland is very distinct; it is a Highland County, rough with mountain and moor. Many of its place-names are Norse, showing the influence that was brought to bear on the northern lands, but there is much Gaelic in Sutherland too, in contrast to its neighbour. The north coast of Sutherland is a mixture of sandy bays and crags. There are two deep sealochs in the northern coast, the Kyle of Tongue and Loch Eriboll. Beyond Loch Durness is the great rock of Cape Wrath, where the coast turns round to head south. This west coast is rocky and rough and sparingly inhabited. Sutherland's North Sea coast is smoother, running from the Dornoch Firth to a little beyond Helmsdale. The interior of Sutherland is high and bleak. There are lochs scattered throughout the hills, and peat lochanns in the low ground. The sealochs are renowned for their fisheries and several of the rivers for gentler angling.
Main Towns:Brora, Dornoch, Helmsdale, Kildonnan, Lairg, Lochinver, Tongue.
Main Rivers:Eanack, Carron, Oykill, Cassley, Shin, Fleet, Broroa, Naver, Hope.
Highlights:Cape Wrath; Dornoch Cathedral; Loch Eribol; Witches Stone, Dornoch; Dunrobin Castle; Smoo Cave, Durness.
Highest Point:Ben More of Assynt, 3431 feet.
Area:2,028 square miles


85  TYN  Tyrone
Tyrone is a rural county between County Londonderry and Fermanagh, spreading from the border to Lough Neagh. The Sperrins take up much of the north of Tyrone. The Sperrins are a range of quiet mountains and hills, shared with Londonderry. They rise to 2,240 feet at Sawel. The county town, Omagh, is a much underregarded town at the confluence of rivers. It has a quiet riverbank aspect. Dungannon, in the south of Tyrone, was once the capital of the Kingdom of Ulster, overlooked by a hill on which a series of castles sat for many centuries. It is now a small market town. Strabane is on the Rivers Mourne and Finn, where they meet and join to form the Foyle. It stands on the border too. Starbane grew as a linen centre and in the twentieth century industry was established, though that has not thrived.
Main Towns:Ardboe, Altmore, Castlederg, Coalisland, Cookstown, Donaghmore, Dungannon, Omagh, Fivemiletown, Pomeroy, Strabane.
Main Rivers:Foyle.
Highlights:Beaghmore stone circles; Knockmany chambered cairn; High Cross, Ardboe; Tullaghoge hill; Ulster American Folk Park, Camphill; Ulster History Park.
Highest Point:Sawel, 2240 feet
Area:1,260 sq miles


86  WRW  Warwickshire
Warwickshire can boast of being the birthplace of the British imagination, for this is Shakespeare's own county. There is more to it though; Birmingham gained its place in the industrial revolution two hundred years after its place in the cultural revolution. Stratford-on-Avon, the place of William Shakespeare's birth and of his death, has become a place of pilgrimage. His birthplace remains almost as he would have known it; a leaning half-timbered house, one of many in the town and in the villages of the neighbourhood, including the home of his wife, a large thatched, half-timbered house in beautiful country. Outside the town once stretched the Forest of Arden, an enchanted place which many celebrated, and though little woodland remains, the names of Hampton-in-Arden and Henley-in-Arden remain. The villages in this part of Warwickshire suggest what inspired the bard's sense of beauty. North-west of Hampton-in-Arden is Solihull, a pleasant town, but the opening of the Birmingham conurbation, and eastward the bands of motorways and great roads cut through the middle of what would otherwise be rich farmland and countryside. At the other end of the roads, at the centre of the county, is Coventry, once the centre of the motor car industry but now a more various city. Coventry was devastatingly bombed during the Second World War. Birmingham sits on the north-western part of Warwickshire. It is the second largest great city in Britain. Birmingham was built on heavy industry; it was known in its heyday as "the toyshop of the world". Birmingham is the centre also of the greatest network of canals in Britain, linking it not only with the industrial towns of the Black Country but also with the rest of the country. The whole area is rich in coal, the fuel of industry. Now Birmingham is a city constantly reinventing and redeveloping itself. Its many suburbs have a variety unique to the city. Birmingham long ago expanded beyond Warwickshire to cover the fields of Worcestershire and Staffordshire too. Watling Street, a Roman Road, forms the border with Leicestershire for some distance in the northeast as once it formed the border of the Danelaw.
Main Towns:Alcester, Aston, Birmingham, Coventry, Kenilworth, Nuneaton, Royal Leamington Spa, Rugby, Solihull, Straford-Upon-Avon, Sutton Coldfield, Warwick.
Main Rivers:Avon, Tame, Anker, Leam, Sherbourne.
Highlights:Aston Hall; Baddesley Clinton; Coventry Cathedrals; Ragley Hall; Shakespeare's birth place, Stratford; Warwick Castle.
Highest Point:The Downs (nr Ilmington) 794 feet (SP 199 425).
Area:885 sq miles


87  WLT  West Lothian
West Lothian reaches from the upper reaches of the Firth of Forth inland. Much of West Lothian forms part of the central Clyde-Forth belt. West Lothian was once known also as Linlithgowshire, after its county town. Linlithgow is a small town three miles inland, on Linlithgow Loch where there stand the remains of Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The main coastal town is Bo'ness, once the port of Borrowstoun (as Borrowstounness) it has outgrown its parent to become an industrial town. The Antonine Wall ended here, at Kinneil. The main industrial towns such as Armadale, Bathgate and Whitburn, lie a little to the south, along the M8 and A71 corridor joining Edinburgh to Glasgow. An early on-shore oil industry was founded here; oil-shale mining, that has left as its legacy the "West Lothian Alps", ubiquitous spoil heaps. In this part of the Clyde-Forth Belt also is Livingston, once a wee village but now a full-grown New Town.
Main Towns:Armadale, Blackness, Bo'Ness, Linlithgow, Livingstone, South Queensferry.
Main Rivers:Avon.
Highlights:Blackness Castle; Linlithgow Palace; Linlithgow Loch; St Michael's Church, Linlithgow; Hopetoun House; Dalmeny House; Forth Bridge.
Highest Point:The Knock, 1023 feet.
Area:120 sq miles


88  WML  Westmorland
Westmorland is one of the Lake Counties. It is a mountainous shire, with some of the grandest scenery of the land. The heart of Westmorland lies in the Lakeland fells. One of the most famous roads is that over the Kirkstone Pass, a bleak, sheer rock pass across the mountains. Westmorland touches the sea in the River Kent estuary as it enters Morecambe Bay. This point divides Lancashire into two. At the head of the Ken dale is Kendal, around which is a pleasant land of low hills. Westward is Windermere, which marks the boundary with the Furness district of Lancashire, the largest lake in England, though not the largest in the whole country. Ambleside, at the head of Windermere, is a delightful town hard up against the mountains. From here a wee lane runs steeply up to the Kirkstone Pass. Across the mountains is Edendale. The River Eden runs from Mallerstang Common through Kirkby Stephen down to Appleby-in-Westmorland. Appleby is the county town (though the difficulties of travelling through the mountainous landscape made Kendal in days past a secondary county town). Edendale is a low, green dale conveying a pretty river, caught between fell country on either side and dividing the Lakeland fells from the main Pennine range. Near Temple Sowerby the Eden is joined by the Lyvennet, whose own little dale holds much hidden history. The Eden finally leaves Westmorland soon after that. The boundary between Westmorland and Cumberland is possibly the highest south of the Highlands. In the east it runs up the beck that becomes the River Tees to its source and at once down the Crowdundle Beck into Edendale and the Eden. Then up the Eamont it sunders Penrith from Eamont Bridge and to Ullswater, the second great lake of the fells. From Ullswater the boundary takes to the fells, climbing to the peak of mighty Helvellyn, Bow Fell and across many peaks and ridges to the precipitous Wrynose Pass. There a stone marks where three counties meet. From the Westmorland side of Helvellyn is Striding Edge, a long knife-edge ridge walk, both famous and infamous. Northwest of Ambleside is the most celebrated part of the Lakes by Rydal Water and Grasmere. This intensely picturesque area is Wordsworth Country, the home and inspiration of one of our finest lyric poets.
Main Towns:Ambleside, Appleby, Bowness-On-Windermere, Grasmere, Kendal, Kirby Lonsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Windermere.
Main Rivers:Eden, Rothay.
Highlights:Helvellyn; Kirkstone Pass; Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere.
Highest Point:Helvellyn, 3118 feet.
Area:783 sq miles


89  WGT  Wigtownshire
Wigtownshire is a wee shire forming the western part of Galloway, between the Solway Firth and the North Channel. Its eastern border is with Kirkcudbrightshire, marked by the River Cree, the county's longest river. To the north is Ayrshire. At the west of Wigtownshire are the Rhinns of Galloway, a double peninsula of two great flanges. Behind the Rhinns is Loch Ryan, and at its head Stranraer, the major port for Belfast, and up the coast Cairnryan, the ferryport to Larne. The opposite coast is Luce Bay, 10 miles of sheltered sandy beach. The Moors, as they are called, make up the bulk of the shire. There is a broad-based triangular peninsula of the south coast between Luce Bay and Wigtown Bay, called the Machers. At the southern end is Whithorn, once site of a major Anglo-Saxon abbey. Wigtown, the county town, is at the top of Wigtown Bay. It has gathered a large collection of second-hand bookshops, approaching the concept of Hay on Wye in Brecknockshire.
Main Towns:Cairnryan, Glenluce, Portpatrick, Port William, Newton Stewart, Stranraer, Whithirn, Wigtown.
Main Rivers:Cree, Luce, Bladnoch.
Highlights:Castle Kennedy Gardens; Stones of Torhouse; Marchars peninsula; Mull of Galloway.
Highest Point:Craigairie Fell, 1056 feet.
Area:487 sq miles


90  WTS  Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a downland rural county of the West Country. In the south of the county is Salisbury and in the north is Swindown. Between the two lies the great expanse of Salisbury Plain. Southern Wiltshire is known for pretty towns and villages. It is a wealthy agricultural land. In its middle is the City of Salisbury. Salisbury was a mediæval "new town", built around an ornate cathedral; the cathedral with the highest spire in Britain. The cathedral close, in which are the most exclusive houses in town, is renowned. The origin of the city is found on a hill to the north; Old Sarum, a city since the iron age, now abandoned. North of Salisbury is Salisbury Plain, some 300 square miles of uncultivated chalkland. Much of the Plain is used by the army for training. The Plain is home to Stonehenge, and many ancient burial mounds and manmade features whose origins are lost in the mists of time. North of Salisbury Plain are the villages and fertile fields of the Vale of Pewsey, dividing the Plain from the Marlborough Downs to the north. Marlborough has widest main street in the country. The Marlborough Downs have their own collection of prehistoric structures; most famously the Avebury ring and Silbury Hill, a prehistoric manmade hill. Swindon lies in the north, an ancient town, turned 20th century New Town.
Main Towns:Amesbury, Bradford-On-Avon, Chippenham, Devizes, Lacock, Malmsbury, Marlborough, Salisbury, Swindon, Wilton.
Main Rivers:Avon, Wylye, Kennett, Nadder, Bourne.
Highlights:Avebury; Salibury Cathedral; Stonehenge; Wilton House.
Highest Point:Milk Hill, 967 feet.
Area:1,370 sq miles


91  WRC  Worcestershire
Worcestershire is a mixture of the very rural and the very urban. It is low-lying; much of it lies in the Severn Valley, between Shropshire and Gloucestershire. To the east is Warwickshire and to the west Herefordshire. The boundaries of Worcestershire are remarkably ragged, with many detached parts, all thought to originate from the scattered holdings of the Bishops of Worcester. In the centre of the shire is the cathedral city of Worcester. Worcester sits on the River Severn. It retains charming streets around the cathedral. In the southeast is the pleasant Vale of Evesham, presided over by Evesham, popular with visitors. In the southwest are the pretty Malvern Hills, a gentle set of hills in Worcestershire before the rigours of the Herefordshire peaks. Great Malvern is a lovely spa town. The northwest of Worcestershire is a complete contrast. Here is a coal country and part of the Black Country is in Worcestershire, including Dudley, a detached part. Outside the Black Country itself are quieter towns more or less absorbed within the same unbroken townscape; Halesowen and Stourbridge. Yardley, a north-western extremity of Worcestershire has long since been absorbed into Birmingham. Outside the cityscape though there remain havens of peace in the Clent Hills and the Lickey Hills. Redditch, to the south, is a puzzling New Town.
Main Towns:Bromsgrove, Droitwich, Dudley, Evesham, Great Malvern, Kidderminster, Pershore, Redditch, Stourbridge.
Main Rivers:Stour, Severn, Terne, Avon.
Highlights:Bourneville; Broadway; Malvern Hills; Severn Valley Railway; Worcester Cathedral.
Highest Point:Worcestershire Beacon, 1395 feet.
Area:738 sq miles


92  YRK  Yorkshire
Yorkshire is the largest county of them all by far. It stretches from the North Sea coast deep into and over the Pennine Mountains, and from the River Tees to the Humber and further south inland. It encompasses empty moorland and crowded conurbations, high fells and low plains. It is a county with a strong character and identity of its own. Yorkshire is divided into three ridings, whose boundaries meet at the walls of the ancient city of York. York is in the middle of the shire. It was a great city even in Roman times (the co-capital of Britannia). It is a delight of mediæval streets, and at its heart its huge and delightful cathedral, York Minister.
The East Riding: The East Riding lies along the coast of the North Sea and the Humber. It is low-lying country in contrast to the other ridings, rich agricultural land. In the centre are the Yorkshire Wolds, an undulating chalk plateau which never rises above 900 feet. Holderness is a flat, broad triangular land between the sea and the Humber. It comes towards a point and a narrow whip of land ending at Spurn Head. The coast of the Humber estuary is flat, windy ground. The Humber is a great commercial gateway, and at its heart the City of Kingston upon Hull, usually known just as Hull, a large port and industrial city. North of Hull, Beverley is a quieter town with the famous Beverley Minster. The coast describes a smooth line along Holderness and a smooth sandly curve up to Flamborough Head and beyond the lofty chalk cliffs up to Filey Bay. The gentle Derwent valley forms the boundary with the North Riding.
The North Riding: In the eastern part of the North Riding are the hills of the North York Moors. The Cleveland Hills in this area plunge down to the sea at Whitby, home of Whitby Abbey, fishing and bracing holidays. The Cleveland coast is marked by the high cliffs that give it its name, Boulby Cliff being one of the highest in England. Wooded valleys, the wykes, tumble down from the high moors to the sea. In between pretty fishing villages such as Robin Hood's Bay and Staithes nestle under the cliffs. The mouth of the Tees, at the very northern bounds of Yorkshire, is an industrial centre. The main town being Middlesbrough, a port and factory town that grew from nothing in the nineteenth century but from which now a small conurbation has grown, stretching down to the seaside town of Redcar. The industry on the Tees took wing from the coal of County Durham and the iron ore mined in the northern hills of Cleveland. The Tees marks the boundary with County Durham. The western part of the Riding is in the Pennines, with wild, often breathtaking scenery. Here (in the Lune Forest in Upper Teesdale) Mickle Fell stands at 2,591 feet, the highest point of Yorkshire. Southward are the Yorkshire Dales, rightly renowned for their beauty. In Swaledale are the old town of Richmond and the immemorial garrison town of Catterick. In Wensleydale runs the River Ure, noted for waterfalls, the forces, and delightful villages. In the upper part of Wensleydale is Hawes, home of the infamous Wensleydale Creamery. Lower down are the haunting ruins of Jervaulx (or Ure Vale) Abbey. Between the Pennines and the North York Moors is the Vale of York, a broad, low fertile land fed successively by the Swale, the Ure and the rivers of the West Riding and running down to York and the Humber plains.
The West Riding: The West Riding is the biggest of the three. It consists of a largely urban south and a rural north, though the division is not clear cut; in among the industrial towns in the south of the riding are many picturesque villages giving the quintessence of the ordinary Briton's understanding of Yorkshire, including Haworth – home of the Brontë sisters.. Leeds is the commercial and financial centre of Yorkshire. Leeds is an ancient town but its rapid growth is only since the industrial revolution, building itself first on wool manufacturing but then with all industry. Bradford has grown with it. South of these two great cities are many other industrial towns, the whole area knotted in A-roads and motorways. South of the Leeds and Bradford area is another major city; Sheffield. Sheffield is built on steel and the coal underneath which powers it mills. Sheffield has been famous for its steel since the middle ages but the nineteenth century saw explosive growth, the city climbing unchecked over the steep slopes of its seven hills and spilling over into Derbyshire. Doncaster, another industrial town, lies north-eastward. Away from all this the West Riding shows its best parts. Some of the loveliest of the Yorkshire Dales are in the West Riding, including Nidderdale and Wharfdale. In the northwest the Riding scales the Pennines, including the peaks of Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent, and Great Whernside. The West Riding stretches out to Sedbergh, only fifteen miles or so from the west coast. Craven is a distinctive area of limestone hills. It is popular among cavers. The Bowland Forest is a high moorland plateau from which becks flow both east and west. Harrogate grew as a spa town, still popular with genteel visitors. Ilkley too is a popular spot, albeit better known for the apparent goings on on Ilkley Moor according to the song. Ripon is a modest city with a fine cathedral, one with remarkably early foundations.
Main TownsYork. North Riding: Guisborough, Hawes, Helmsley, Northallerton, Middlesbrough, Pickering, Scarborough, Redcar, Richmond, Thirsk, Whitby. West Riding: Barnoldswick, Barnsley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Keighley, Leeds, Pontefract, Rotherham, Saddleworth, Sedbergh, Sheffield, Skipton, Todmorden (part), Wakefield. East Riding: Beverley, Bridlington, Filey, Kington-upon-Hull, Market Weighton.
Main Rivers:Ouse, Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder, Derwent, Don.
Highlights:Bempton Cliffs; Castle Howard; Cleveland Hills; Minster & Shambles, York; Yorkshire Dales; North York Moors.
Highest Point:Mickle Fell, 2591 feet.
Area:6,066 sq miles