Staffordshire climber on Cloud nine after reaching the county's 65 peaks
INTREPID hill walker Jeff Kent claims to be the first person ever to identify, list and climb all 65 peaks in Staffordshire.
Jeff, of Cotes Heath, spent months studying maps and hunting out peaks more than 1,000 feet high.
Then between April and New Year's Eve last year he set out to climb them all.
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His journey began in warm sunshine with an ascent to The Cloud, a dramatic hill with sweeping views across the Cheshire Plain, on the Staffordshire and Cheshire border.
It ended with a race against time to reach the top of Cheeks Hill on Axe Edge Moor, then a return journey to his waiting car in dense fog and rain.
In between, Jeff and his walking partner Sue Bell, climbed the huge Yawning Stone, with the aid of a ladder.
He also encountered a herd of llamas just below Ramshaw Rocks, near Leek, stood making notes at Ossoms Hill, near Grindon, oblivious to the bull standing directly behind him, and was almost knocked off his feet by gale force winds near the top of Bunster Hill.
The 61-year-old author said: "I think I'm the first person to catalogue all 65 peaks in Staffordshire. It involved many hours spent pouring over Ordnance Survey maps to come up with a list, and then I had to check all the heights. Then we started climbing them all. With it being the wettest year ever recorded in England, there were a lot of times when we called off walks.
"It was getting quite tight as to whether we would do it inside a calendar year.
"We usually like to do a circular walk including the summit, but towards the end we were just climbing to the peak, then going back to the car and moving on.
"We also had to contend with barbed wire fences, obstructive landowners, marauding animals and the weather and consequent swamps that appeared."
Jeff says he was following in the footsteps of John and Anne Nutall, who compiled a list of all 443 hills in England of 2,000ft or above, which they called the Nuttalls.
The summits included in Jeff's list are all natural features within the county boundaries of Staffordshire and are at least 1,000 feet above sea level.
Of the 65 peaks, 38 are already named. He has given provisional names to the other 27 summits which he intends to use in his register, unless anyone can provide evidence of existing names.
He has decided to name 65 peaks collectively, the Staffordshire Kents, in honour of his parents, Cyril and Helen Kent, who loved the county's hills.
He is now planning a book about the Staffordshire Kents, which he hopes to publish later this year.
Sue, aged 63, a council enforcement officer from Walsall, said: "It has been a very varied experience. We had some lovely sunny days to start with, but by December we were trudging through mud. Jeff was intent on getting it finished by the end of the year which we managed and I feel a real sense of achievement."