Sunday 4 October 2015

A Question of Counties - Part Six

A couple of years ago whilst between racing, I started a thread on my blog about how many of the Counties of England I had visited on a motorbike, so I thought that whilst my racing efforts are currently on hold, it was about time for an update.

The crucial thing being that I had to be able to “prove” it with a photo. Also being a Geographer I posed the question of what exactly are the Counties of England? 

With Metropolitan Boroughs and Unitary Council’s it has become rather confused, so I decided on the thirty nine traditional Counties as they stood until 1974. However I did originally add a few modern updates but on reflection have decided to stick to the originals. These will be broadly familiar with a few exceptions. East and West Sussex were one County back then, as was Yorkshire and Cumbria didn't exist, instead being made up of Cumberland, Westmorland and part of Lancashire.In addition there are counties like Huntingdonshire and Middlesex that no longer exist (now part of Cambridgeshire and Greater London respectively) and Rutland that was dissolved to became part of Leicestershire in 1974 but more recently was resurrected as a Unitary Authority. 

At the time of my last post on this thread, I had “ticked off” the following

1 Bedfordshire
2 Buckinghamshire       
3 Cambridgeshire     
4 Cornwall                                      
5 Derbyshire                                                     
6 Devon                                                         
7 Dorset                                                                           
8 Durham                                                
9 Essex                                                                       
10 Gloucestershire               
11 Hampshire    
12 Herefordshire          
13 Hertfordshire  
14 Kent         
15 Leicestershire
16 London 
17 Middlesex
18 Norfolk
19 Northamptonshire 
20 Northumberland 
21 Oxfordshire
22 Shropshire
24 Suffolk
25 Sussex
23 Somerset
26 Westmorland
27 Wiltshire
28 Yorkshire

So that left twelve still to go but where to start?  First I had another search of the photo archives and this turned up trumps. 

Cumberland: Although I had previously ticked this off as the modern county of Cumbria, the picture I originally posted was actually in the old County of Westmorland. However I did in fact visit Cumberland (at the same time as my first visit to Westmorland) in that trip to the Lake District in 1986 but have mislaid the photographs I took on that occasion, so here’s one from a more recent visit:

Huntingdonshire – Most probably ridden through for the first time on the A1 in 1982 on a trip to visit my late friend Alastair in Lincoln riding a borrowed Honda CD175, I realised that the rather more modern Peterborough Services on the A1(M) just falls inside the old Huntingdonshire county boundary, so here's a shot from there last year, a coffee stop on the way back from the TRF Coast to Coast ride last year:

Lancashire – first visited on a bike in 1986 whilst riding up the M6 to Cumberland/Westmorland but photographic evidence had to wait a few more years, here's a couple from the same spot on rides over Salter Fell on my 450 EXC on the day I bought it in December 2012 and the 990 Adventure on the TRF coast to coast in 2014:

Staffordshire – Another County first travelled through on the M6 in 1986, it took a bit of searching but then I remembered this shot of a late night stop at Keele Services on my way to up to the 2014 TRF Coast to Coast ride.

So that leaves eight, I checked through the remaining counties to see which ones I have actually visited and whilst it is clear I have at some point been to all of them, I have yet to find photographic evidence for the following:

1. Berkshire – First ridden through in 1980, it was an alternative route home from Portsmouth Polytechnic when I was a student as this was before the M25 had been finished so I had the choice of straight through London, the North and South Circular or the far more pleasant (but longer) route round the West of London via Windsor (i.e. through Berkshire).

2. Cheshire First visited on a bike in 1986 whilst riding up the M6 to Cumberland/Westmorland but I've never got a photo

3. Lincolnshire – 1982 on the trip to Lincoln mentioned above of course!

4. Nottinghamshire – I missed it on my trip to Lincoln as I used the A607 from Grantham to Lincoln but did ride through the County as part of the return trip two days later on the A1 near Newark.

5. Rutland – Again first visited on the A1 in 1982 on the trip to Lincoln 

6. Surrey – First ridden on my way to Portsmouth Polytechnic along the A3 on my Honda CB250G5 in October 1979

7. Warwickshire – First time was most probably a visit to the bike show at the NEC in 1986 

8. Worcestershire – I had to think long and hard about this one and realised that I had never ridden through the County until 2007 when Anne, my Ex bought a Suzuki SV650 from near Kidderminster and I rode it home for her, via the A448, M5 and M42. But I don’t have a photo taken in the County.

So it seems I have visited all the traditional counties of England by Bike over the last 35 years but once again the search for photos to prove them all goes on! Either that or I have generated a few ideas for some bike journeys in the coming months!

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