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Cockermouth adventurer climbs 273 mountains in Ireland in record-breaking expedition

James Forrest waking up above the clouds on Knockowen

An adventurer has climbed every mountain in Ireland in just eight weeks – the fastest ever time.

James Forrest, 35, of Williams Grove, Cockermouth, walked over 1,000km in his mission to stand atop all 273 600m high mountains across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

He ascended the height of Everest every week for eight weeks in a row, completing the peak-bagging challenge solo and unsupported in 56 days.

The expedition is believed to be the first continuous ‘single round’ of the mountains of Ireland.

James, a freelance adventure and travel writer who is also a Get Outside Champion for Ordnance Survey, walked up to 25 miles a day and slept wild in the mountains in a one-man tent.

He began his adventure on Thursday, August 9, and reached his final summit – Knocknadobar in County Kerry – on Wednesday, October 3.

He said: “I feel on top of the world to have finally completed this epic expedition.

“It has been the adventure of a lifetime and an incredibly tough challenge, both physically and mentally.

“Mountains are good for the soul. I love the freedom, the fresh air, the isolation, the unpredictability, the escapism – and this journey has let me experience these joys more than most.

“Ireland is an incredibly wild and beautiful country and I found the people to be so warm and friendly.”

James has completed the ‘Vandeleur-Lynams’, a list of 273 peaks in Ireland and Northern Ireland which defines a mountain as any summit with a height of at least 600m and a drop or prominence on all sides of at least 15m. The list features several well-known Irish mountains including Carrauntoohil, Croagh Patrick and Slieve Donard.

Simon Stewart, founder of MountainViews.ie, the organisation that publishes the list of summits, said: “We are delighted to see this achievement by James Forrest in completing the Vandeleur-Lynam list of the 273 Irish mountains over 600 metres.  Despite bad weather he completed this in approximately two months, faster than anyone else we have on record.”

James Forrest exploring the MacGillyCuddy Reeks

James, who also set a record for climbing all 446 mountains in England and Wales in just six months in 2017, even shot to internet fame during his Ireland mountain adventure.

A video he took of waking up above the clouds on Knockowen in the Beara Peninsula went ‘viral’ online, being viewed tens of millions of times on the world wide web.

He said: “I set up my tent in cloudy, drizzly conditions and I wasn’t expecting much.

“The following morning I woke up to the most perfect cloud inversion. It was like waking up in a heaven – a really special and beautiful moment.”

James Forrest makes it to his final summit, Knocknadobar, to complete his challenge

But James faced his fair share of bad weather during his challenge too, battling against torrential rain and gale force winds during Storm Ali.

“I faced such brutal weather during this challenge at times I felt like giving up”, he added.

“But I persevered and was rewarded with some wonderful and poignant moments in the stunning landscapes of the Irish countryside.

“I was particularly wowed by the beauty of the mountains in the west and south-west of Ireland. I loved exploring those wild places – it was breathtaking.”

James, whose expedition was supported by outdoor clothing brand Salomon and expedition food company Summit To Eat, hopes to write a book about his adventures in Ireland. His debut book Mountain Man – about his 446-mountain challenge in England and Wales – will be published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2019.

To follow James’ adventures visit www.instagram.com/jamesmichaelforrest or www.facebook.com/jamesmichaelforrest

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