Hill-bagger Jeff, 70, celebrates conquering all 1,000ft peaks in Shropshire and beyond

An intrepid 70-year-old hill climber says his greatest challenge in conquering all 633 of central England's 1,000-foot-plus peaks came in Shropshire.

Jeff Kent on the summit of Caer Caradoc
Jeff Kent on the summit of Caer Caradoc

Jeff Kent, from near Stafford, has just published a book to celebrate becoming the first person ever to identify and climb all the significant peaks across Shropshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.

"The most challenging hill of the lot was Buxton Hill, near Stiperstones," said married Jeff, a retired lecturer, from Nelson Crescent, in Cotes Heath, near Stafford.

At 1,138ft the summit in the Welshpool to Corve Dale region of the county is not the highest, but Jeff said the environment made it a tough nut to crack.

"Height does not necessarily determine how difficult a peak is," he said.

"There's nothing to Buxton Hill particularly, but once I got closer to the summit it was covered in high, thick bramble. The whole thing was covered."

But intrepid Jeff is made of tough stuff, putting up with painful spikes making it through his trousers as he gingerly trod his way forward. The thought of making it to the top of the 632nd of the 633 peaks drove him on.

Jeff Kent on the top of Manstone Rock, Stiperstones

Jeff has been accompanied on most of his walks by his partner Sue Bell but even she thought wiser of following him up to the top of the looming Buxton Hill.

"Luckily the summit was relatively open with great views so I am glad I did it," said Jeff. "I could have said it is covered with impenetrable brambles."

Jeff was also left to tackle other awkward summits alone, including the dramatic Tower at Alport Castles, the largest landslip in Britain; Henley Nap, where there was a bees' nest at the top; and snow-covered Willstone Hill, where he developed exposure.

Jeff says Shropshire comes in a comfortable second place in the Mercia region with its 195 hills of more than 1,000ft. It's behind Derbyshire's 261.

In Shropshire, Jeff conquered the spectacular 1,500-ft Caer Caradoc Hill, near Church Stretton in 2016. He bagged the Stiperstones ridge at Manstone Rock, also in 2016.

"It was a tad awkward to get to the highest point on the highest rock, which was poised precariously above a steep drop, so I had to be very careful what I was doing," said Jeff.

But it is still onwards and upwards for Jeff who said: "I’m aiming to climb 1,000 of England’s 1,000ft+ peaks before even considering retiring from hill bagging!" He's now on 682.

His 183-page Central England’s 1,000-Foot Peaks is the fifth in his series of books on England’s 1,000ft peaks. His sister volumes for southern England, Northeast England, Yorkshire and Northwest England can also be purchased from bookshops, Amazon or on the witancreations.com website.

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