Lincolnshire to Cornwall, Twelve English Counties

Counties of England

Once a year I generally take a holiday in the UK with my daughter and grandchildren.  In previous years I have been to East Anglia, Yorkshire and Wales but on account of the distance never to Cornwall in the extreme South West.  An Australian motorist would no doubt consider four hundred miles to be a drive to the mini-market to get a loaf of bread but in England this is generally considered to be a long way and an arduous journey that requires rather a lot of meticulous planning.

I live in Lincolnshire which is on the north east coast so a journey to Cornwall requires a drive in a diagonal direction right across the country from north-east to south-west.  As I plotted my journey it occurred to me that I was going to pass through twelve (25%) of the forty-eight Counties of England so I thought that I might take you with me.

To be clear here I am talking about the traditional historic counties of England such as Warwickshire and not modern administrative areas such as for example the West Midlands.

01 Lincolnshire

So, the journey begins in Lincolnshire where I have lived for almost twenty years, at first in the South in the farming town of Spalding but now in the North in the fishing town of Grimsby.  It is the second largest County in England and even though my destination was south we began by going north because this is the quickest way out of the County using its only motorway, the M18, to go west towards Yorkshire.

The White Rose County of Yorkshire is the largest in England and for administrative convenience was once divided into Ridings, North, West and East, but no obvious fourth and I wondered why? Well it turns out that there is a simple explanation because the word Riding is derived from a Danish word ‘thridding’, meaning a third. The invading Danes called representatives from each Thridding to a Thing, or Parliament and established the Ridings System.

To this day, Yorkshire consists of three ridings, along with the City of York, and that’s why there is no fourth, or South, Riding (but to confuse matters there is a modern administrative area of South Yorkshire). I once lived for a short time in Yorkshire in the North Yorkshire town of Richmond.

02 Yorkshire

We drove through a part of the West Riding (South Yorkshire) past the town of Doncaster and the steel city of Sheffield and driving south now slipped into Nottinghamshire in the North Midlands and into Robin Hood country. I have never lived in Nottinghamshire but I did work there once between 1987 and 1990 in the town of Arnold.

03 Nottinghamshire

Shortly after that we were in Derbyshire following the route of the Erewash Valley, an area of great mineral wealth, particularly coal, extending from Yorkshire and into Leicestershire.  I lived and worked in Derbyshire for almost fifteen years before moving to Lincolnshire and we passed close to the town of Ilkeston where my family still do.

04 Derbyshire05 Leicestershire

After Derbyshire the M1 motorway took us into Leicestershire, the County of my birth and boasting the finest football team in England and then into Warwickshire, the County where I lived and grew up from 1960 until 1980 in the town of Rugby famous for its public school and for Rugby Football after William Webb Ellis cheated at soccer and picked up the ball and ran with it.

Warwickshire is probably most famous for William Shakespeare and for a short time (just a year in 1986/7) I lived in Stratford-upon-Avon.

06 Warwickshire

We passed through the West Midlands and close to the city of Birmingham and then into the rural county of Worcestershire, briefly into the farming county of Herefordshire and the town of Ross-on-Wye and on into Gloucestershire where we were breaking the journey with a two night stop at my Sister’s home in Lydney in the Forest of Dean because two hundred miles is just about the limit that most people will drive in just one day so a break half way seemed to make good sense.

07 Hereford & Worcester09 Gloucestershire

I will return later to tell you about the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley but for now I will continue my drive through the English Counties but before I can I have to report that we crossed for a short while out of England and into Wales and drove through the County of Monmouthshire before crossing the Bristol Channel and back into England and the County of Somerset

10 Somerset11 Devon

Now we were in the West Country but still with two hundred miles to our final destination.  The west country counties are all quite large so it took a while to pass through Somerset (seventh largest) and then through Devon (fourth largest) before we finally crossed the River Tamar into Cornwall (twelfth largest).  The Tamar almost completely separates Cornwall from the rest of England and is a geographical dividing line that kept Cornwall as somewhere rather remote and mysterious up until relatively recently.

The most westerly point of Cornwall and England is Land’s End but we weren’t going that far and fifty miles of so before the land ran out we drove to our holiday home in the fishing port of Mevagissey.

12 Cornwall

42 responses to “Lincolnshire to Cornwall, Twelve English Counties

  1. Thanks Andrew, interesting summaries of each county. As you say, quite a car journey by our standards. In this country, east/west is never as easy as north/south.

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  2. Thanks for the ride Andrew. A couple of things sparked a memory. I ‘think’ there is some Cornish blood in me but I’d have to ask one of the historians in the family. The Wye is a river – obviously. There is a small town in Victoria south of Ballarat called Wye River. As you drive in to the town there is a very small stream that you drive over. There is a sign saying “Wye River” and some clever dick has painted underneath the words “Wye river” the words, “Because it’s bigger than a creek.”
    And you mentioned the Forest of Dean. When I started blogging there was a fellow who had a blog called “The Fodrambler” He was a sort of very old hippy bloke: long hair and a little dog and he took photos of all the flowers in the Forest of Dean. And then he just stopped and I miss him dreadfully. I wonder what happened. I assume he died. But bloggers will all die one day and there should be a way that all the followers can be told. So if anyone who reads this has any idea, PLEASE let me know. Some bloggers become such a part of one’s family that we need to know.

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    • There is a village in Lincolnshire called Twenty. On the village nameplate a wag has added the words “Twinned with the Moon – No Atmosphere”
      Always sad when a blogger disappears, a couple that I followed just stopped and I subsequently discovered that they had died. How do you close down a blog if you are going to die?

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    • Hi John
      I see you asked about Colin from the Forest of Dean. I was (and am still) worried about him as were many other of his followers. Before he disappeared I had also started to follow him on Facebook which he suddenly stopped using as well. I sent messages and e-mails but to no avail. However, about two years ago I was surprised to see a message from him on FB to someone else and I sent a message to him. His response was to block me immediately. I assume he doesn’t wish to carry on as he was for whatever reason. He certainly made it plain to me he had no wish to talk to me and I had thought we had got on very well! I had thought he might have died or had gone back on the road or something but I am now sure he is alive and has access to internet – or at least he did two years ago. John Knifton, who also follows Andrew’a blog also followed Colin – he may know more.
      Clare

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    • When I read “Forest of Dean” I immediately thought of my friend the Fodrambler. I, too, attempted to contact him through email and got no response. I worried that he had died, and I’m actually grateful to hear that he blocked Clare on fb because at least he is alive, if for some reason rejecting his blog world. I loved those posts and his brilliant macro photography of fungus and butterflies and everything else that made me fall in love with the Forest of Dean, and the funny old man with his wooden walking stick and a marvelous delight in the natural world. He brought us into his world, with the robin at his door to a whiskey too many and the dog he loved more than any human. I hope he knows how he touched us all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating, Andrew. I have worked in Lincolnshire, honeymooned in Cornwall; lived or worked in other places in between, having been born in Leicester.

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  4. That’s taken me back. In the 1970s we often went from Hull to Devon and Cornwall for our holidays, and it was certainly quite a drive back then. The funniest trip was probably just after I passed my driving test and we took two cars, myself and a friend in one, my parents in the other, and we passed each other going in opposite directions on the M6 because my navigator insisted we needed to follow the signs for London and the South…

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  5. I think that if you worked in Arnold in 1990 you would be genuinely surprised at what an impoverished place it has become. Quite a dump really. It’s getting increasingly like so many small towns in Derbyshire such as perhaps Swadlincote. Arnold’s problems started when a huge supermarket with car park was built just outside the town, followed by another on the other side of the main road. Since then, shops in the main street have become an endangered species.,, except charity shops. A couple of years back, I could walk around Arnold and Sherwood and visit 19 charity shops in those two shopping centres.

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  6. Thanks for the lovely drive. In Canada, we would think nothing of driving 400 miles in one day. But having been to the Uk a few times, I realize it is not as easy there. I have been to most of the counties you mentioned so some nice memories. Thanks for clearing up the Yorkshire ridings for me as I always wondered.

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  7. I like Robin Hood! But indeed 400 miles is a short drive lol!

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  8. That was quite a ride! Thank you! I love to drive long distances when I travel. This would be a great trip to duplicate.

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  9. I worked in Nottinghamshire in the early 80s so our paths did not quite cross! It was my first job after uni, and my focus was still on Sheffield rather than Nottingham which I never quite took to.

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  10. Andrew, I think we need to check how many counties we’ve passed through, visited, stayed in, lived in. Tell me when you’re ready 👍🍷

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  11. The 350 miles between where we live in Oregon and our families live in Sacramento was almost a commute for us while Peggy’s mom was still living. 🙂 I was amused by your moving around, Andrew. I was beginning to wonder where in England you hadn’t lived. Robin Hood was one of my all-time heroes as a kid. Only Tarzan outranked him until I begin reading Westerns. –Curt

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  12. Visited Cornwall years ago and thought it was such a lovely part of England!

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  13. I’d love to have done that trip.
    I don’t know about driving 400 miles for a loaf of bread, but back in the late 60’s early 70’s I did drive 120 miles once a fortnight from Narrogin to Perth to get my haircut. I had a terrific barber back then and there was no way I’d let a country bumpkin give me a short back and sides.
    Albino Garofino a true artist with his scissors, worth every bit of a few hours and a couple of hundred or more miles round trip

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  14. I lived in Warwickshire in the early 2000’s. It was probably the most rural location in which I’ve ever lived. We had foxes, owls and these small deer-like creatures I’d never seen before. It was a gorgeous area and I loved exploring nearby villages and towns. We weren’t too far from Banbury, Stratford and Leamington Spa.

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  15. This was a fun trip across the counties with you, and I’m looking forward to hearing about all your adventures in detail in future posts. I’m especially looking forward to learning about Cornwall.

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