Dragons Back Circular - Black Mountains
The Dragons Back walk starts in the small village of Pengenffordd within the Brecon Beacons National Park. It boasts fantastic views of the surrounding country side and the beautiful Black Mountains.
A British adventurer has become the fastest person to climb all 446 mountains in England and Wales.
You may have heard of the Three Peaks Challenge, The Dragon's Back Race or even the 100 Peaks Challenge but have you ever considered bagging all 446 peaks in England and Wales, aka the Nuttalls?
That's the challenge that James Forrest from Cumbria completed on Saturday 16 September at Scafell Pike as he walked over 1,000 miles and ascended five times the height of Everest in his mission to stand atop all 446 mountains in the two countries. And that's not the only impressive feat as he completed the peak-bagging challenge solo and unsupported in his days off work, hiking up to 25 miles a day and sleeping wild in the mountains, in the quickest known time.
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."
Combined, the 446 summits are known as the 'Nuttalls' – a list compiled in The Mountains of England and Wales by John and Anne Nuttall, who define a mountain as “any summit of 2,000ft or more which rises above its surroundings on all sides by at least 50ft”.
Despite the fact that his "adventure has been littered with drama and calamity”, James ensured he was never lost thanks to his OS Maps subscription. "It's got me out of a few tricky situations, when I've got lost in horrific storms or being disorientated in mist, enabling me to pinpoint my exact location and get back on track. For safety I've always taken print-outs of my routes and two power packs, in case my phone malfunctions or runs out of battery. But 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 iPhone. It has been an epic adventure and OS Maps has played a big part in it. At £20 for an annual subscription, it has cost me less than 5p for every mountain I've climbed."
"OS Maps has played a big part in my epic adventure. At £20 for an annual subscription, it has cost me less than 5p for every mountain I've climbed."
Despite fighting the weather, being chased by a gaggle of geese, sleeping in an emergency refuge in the Carneddau and completing the whole challenge in his wife's old walking boots (what?!), James managed to complete the challenge in the fastest known time. Anne Nuttall said: “Congratulation to James. Climbing the mountains of England and Wales is an impressive achievement, but to do it in six months is quite exceptional and as far as we know unique".
James is no stranger to adventure. In 2014 he completed the ‘Wainwrights’, 214 mountains in the Lake District detailed in the iconic guidebooks by Alfred Wainwright, and in 2016 he quit his job and sold his house to go backpacking around the world.
“Every walk has been time well spent – time for wilderness and solitude, for self-reflection and quiet, for escapism and nature. Every mountain has brought me boundless happiness. I’d encourage everyone to spend more time outdoors – you won’t regret it."
James, whose favourite mountains were Tryfan in Wales and Hopegill Head in England, has raised more than £500 for The British Mountaineering Council’s charity, the Access and Conservation Trust. The money raised will support the upcoming Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign, which aims to protect the mountain landscapes of Britain. To donate to James’ charity fundraising visit his JustGiving page.
He has now settled in Cumbria and is making outdoor adventure part of his everyday life. Follow his adventures at www.jamesmforrest.com or on social media, @jamesmforrest on Twitter and @jamesmichaelforrest on Instagram.FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OS MAPS >