The walk of the month is amazing! And look at the size of this meet!
James Forrest, 35 from Cockermouth, netted 701 miles in one epic walk – climbing every mountain in the island of Ireland!
Right: Triumphant James took a huge bite out of his 1000 this month!
I climbed 273 mountains in Ireland
in exactly 8 weeks. It was the fastest ever completion of the mountains and the first ever continuous ‘single round’ of the mountains. It took me 56 days – 46 active days and 10 rest days. I walked 701.5 miles and climbed the height of Everest every week for eight weeks in a row!
The list of mountains I ‘ bagged’ was the Vandeleur- Lynams. The most mountains I climbed in a day was 12, which I did on four occasions. I walked 25km per day on average and my longest day was 40km.
The expedition took me to over 1500 miles for the year, so far.
There were so many highs –
ecstasies really. The freedom and escapism of the mountains, the nature, the fresh air, the simplicity of your only goal for the day being to walk from A to B. The solitude and tranquility of walking alone, and of sleeping wild under the stars. The sense of achievement that comes with a big challenge and the happiness-inducing endorphins of exercise. The heartwarming generosity and kindness of the strangers who gave me lifts when I was hitchhiking around. The unpredictability of a big adventure and the joy of overcoming the mishaps and obstacles in my way. The landscapes of Ireland are incredibly beautiful and rugged, especially in the west and south-west. So many of the mountains are pathless, which means the terrain is unforgiving and rough, navigation is trickier, and you have a stronger sense of being in wild and remote country. I often hiked for days on end without seeing another soul. The coastal views from many mountains which rise up precipitously out of the ocean are incredible too.
But my most euphoric moment was waking up to a perfect cloud
inversion. It was on a mountain called Knockowen in the Beara Peninsula. I unzipped my tent and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was truly beautiful, like waking up in heaven and I will remember that moment forever. Another glorious moment was reaching my final summit and knowing that, despite all the hardship and low moments, I’d completed my goal.
There were, naturally, loads of lows
too. Falling violently ill with stomach problems after my first week in the wild. Losing my wallet in Killarney – only to luckily get it back after it was handed into a shop, while some cards that fell out of it were handed into the police. Being berated by an angry Air BnB owner for ‘making his house smell of old socks’ after stashing my hiking gear in the room – one of the most awkward and cringey moments I’ve ever had! Forgetting my lighter on a multi-day wild camping trip meaning I couldn’t use my stove. But easily the biggest challenge was the weather. At one point I hiked for 10 days in a row, climbing over 50 mountains, in torrential rain every day and didn’t see a view from a single summit. It was horrific. I felt like giving up so many times. It was demoralising and I felt broken mentally. But I persevered, as I didn’t want to be a quitter, and I’m so pleased I kept going.
Every 600m summit in Ireland and Northern Ireland with a minimum prominence of 15m
A couple of human experiences stick out in my memory. I was
The view from the summit of Eskatariff on the Cummeengeera Horseshoe in the Caha mountains range on the Beara Peninsula.