HIS editorial colleagues on the Worcester News knew there was something slightly out of the ordinary about James Forrest when he would arrive at the office at 6am, disappear into the locker rooms, emerge in his kit and shoot off for a ten mile run. For most journalists, habitually the first port of call is either the kitchen to make a cup of tea or the toilet.

Whether James ran ten miles is just a ball park guess, but judging by the lick he went he would easily have made Malvern and back and had time to shower before being at his desk ready for the 7.30am shift.

So it’s no surprise to anyone here that this thoroughly likeable, if slightly eccentric in the nicest way, bloke has set a new endurance record by climbing all 446 mountains in England and Wales in just six months. Being true to his trade, he has also written a book about it. The very readable Mountain Man by James Forrest has just been published by Bloomsbury at £16.99.

What’s made his achievement all the more remarkable is that James has completed it while keeping up a full time day job.

It’s occupied his weekends and days off from working as a charity fundraiser. On his own and unsupported, he has walked more than a thousand miles and ascended five times the height of Everest, proving it is possible to integrate an epic adventure into your everyday life.

He has also done it while having a wonderful self-deprecating slant on life. Aware of the Bear Grylls/Ray Mears tribe, James begins by saying: “I cannot forage for berries or navigate in a mist. I can’t build a shelter or tie useful knots. I am scared of most animals and my legs go wobbly if I stand too close to a cliff edge. Dark nights freak me out and I can’t sleep in my tent unless it is horizontal. I can’t even grow a rugged beard. Rubbish credentials for an adventurer.

“I also came across no poisonous snakes or hostile bandits. I didn’t triumph over horrific personal demons or have any life-changing epiphanies. I never once had to sever a boulder-trapped limb to free myself from a ravine.

“All I did was put one foot in front of the other on my days off from work. But what I hope I have shown is that you don’t need technical skills or expensive kit. With a little outdoorsy grit and adventurous spirit, anyone can go on a big adventure without travelling half way across the world.”

To be fair to the reader – and so as not to give the impression he jumped straight off the sofa after watching TV – James and his wife Becky have been half way across the world.

They once jacked in their jobs in journalism and primary care to back pack across Australasia and South East Asia. They swam with sharks and trekked through snake-infested rainforests. 

It was when they got home and found themselves back in ordinary “day jobs” the itchy feet syndrome started again. James was working with a mountain-path repair scheme and Becky in a village shop. To combat the creeping wanderlust, Becky signed up to five 100k walking challenges across Britain for Dementia UK and James went “peak-bagging.” "What’s that?” his wife enquired. “Sounds as if it’s for middle aged men with beards who don’t have girlfriends.”

Undeterred, James explained it means ticking off or “bagging” a predefined list of mountain peaks and armed with  the industry bible, a copy of The Mountains of England and Wales by John and Anne Nuttall, he wrote out a hit list and set off to do it. Alone, as Becky’s dodgy knees were not up to the steep tracks.

The book records his triumphs and disasters along the way. Right from the first day in the Nuttall peaks of the North Pennines western fells, when it rained so hard he nearly drowned standing up, to the final day six months later when he came full circle back to the area to complete his challenge by climbing England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike.

Of course there are also the characters he meets along the way, none more surprising than the “suave and stylish” chap “with a Ralph Lauren logo on his polo shirt” who pulls up as he is attempting to thumb a lift along the A591 near Keswick on a very mucky day.

Having been ignored by a succession of clapped out camper vans and empty farmers’ 4x4s, to his amazement, a seriously posh Porsche Caymen GT4 sports car roars up.

I’ll leave the next bit to James: “‘Jump in, dude,’ said the Lake District’s answer to Lewis Hamilton, as he calmly shifted a crate of expensive-looking champagne off the passenger seat. 'Having a little soiree tonight,’ he explained. How much is the car worth? ‘Around a hundred thousand pounds. It’s my pride and joy.’

"If that was the cost, my boots covered in sticky Skiddaw mud had just done about five grand’s worth of damage to its bespoke interior. This nice guy had offered my a lift out of the kindness of his heart and I had made the footwell of his Porsche look like the bowl of an unflushed toilet in a dodgy late-night curry house.”

An image that stuck with me for some days.