Epic mountain walk breaks record

Walker conquers all 446 mountains in England and Wales – in just six months

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A walker is celebrating after walking all 446 mountains in England and Wales – in record time.

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James Forrest’s epic challenge began on March 16 – and involved walking more than 1,000 miles over the next six months.

He achieved his feat during days off work as a freelance writer, covering up to 25 miles a day.

James’ challenge ended on Sunday at the summit of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at 3,209ft. He told Countryfile Magazine: “It was such a mix of emotions to reach the final summit – relief, elation, gratitude and excitement.”

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“Miraculously I had the summit of Scafell Pike to myself and it felt like a perfect ending,” says James Forrest.

James, 34, from Cockermouth in Cumbria, conquered all 446 summits over 2,000ft – mountains known as the ‘Nuttalls’, after a list compiled in The Mountains of England and Wales by John and Anne Nuttall.

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Wild camping at Elidir Fawr in Snowdonia

He went solo and unsupported, often camping wild in the hills. He did make use of technology to keep on track though. “For 99% of the time I’ve navigated through the wildest parts of England and Wales to the top of every mountain with just my phone.”

James adds that for safety, he has always taken print-outs of his routes and two power packs, in case his phone malfunctions or runs out of battery.

“But I probably couldn’t have completed my challenge without the OS Maps app on my smartphone. It’s got me out of a few tricky situations, when I’ve got lost in horrific storms and disorientated in mist.”

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Standing on Steeple Fell in the Lake District

Don’t let these glorious sunny images fool you. “The weather Gods have not been kind to me,” said James. “It rained on more than 50 per cent of my hikes…. It’s been a tough one mentally. Often I’ve felt like the last thing I want to do is head up high when the conditions are poor. But I’ve battled on, determined to achieve my goal, and I have found a perverse kind of pleasure in taking on Mother Nature and surviving.”

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The clouds threaten over Aran Fawddwy in Snowdonia

But of all those mountains, which were James’ favourites? James says Tryfan in Wales…

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The craggy ridge of Tryfan. Picture: Getty Images

and Hopegill Head in England.

Warm sunlight on a mountain trail. This image has added grain and styling.
Hopegill Head lies on a ridge that also includes Grizedale Pike and Whiteside
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And despite the weather, James is upbeat about the experience. “Walking in the mountains and sleeping under the stars has been life-affirming. Every walk has been time well spent – time for wilderness and solitude, for self-reflection and quiet, for escapism and nature.”