There are many reasons why it might seem unwise to walk, mostly alone, through the Middle East. That, in part, is exactly why Leon McCarron did it.
From Jerusalem, McCarron followed a series of wild hiking trails that trace ancient trading and pilgrimage routes and traverse some of the most contested landscapes in the world. In the West Bank, he met families struggling to lead normal lives amidst political turmoil and had a surreal encounter with the world's oldest and smallest religious sect. In Jordan, he visited the ruins of Hellenic citadels and trekked through the legendary Wadi Rum. His journey culminated in the vast deserts of the Sinai, home to Bedouin tribes and haunted by the ghosts of Biblical history.
The Land Beyond is a journey through time, from the quagmire of current geopolitics to the original ideals of the faithful, through the layers of history, culture and religion that have shaped the Holy Land. But at its heart, it is the story of people, not politics and of the connections that can bridge seemingly insurmountable barriers.
Pub in paperback: August 2020, Tauris Parke
What happens when you swap the nine-to-five for two wheels and a journey of a lifetime?
Terrified of the prospect of a life spent behind a desk, without challenge or excitement, Leon took off to cross America on an overloaded bicycle packed with everything but common sense.
Over 5 months and 6000 miles, , he cycled from New York to Seattle and then on to the Mexican border, facing tornados, swollen river crossings, wild roaming buffalo and one hungry black bear along the way. But he also met kind strangers, who offered their food, wisdom, hospitality and even the occasional local history lesson, and learned what happens when you take a chance and follow the scent of adventure.
Pub: Jul 2014, Summersdale
Can Socotra, Yemen's 'Dragon's Blood Island' be saved?
- National Geographic
Abdullah Aliyu paces slowly up and down along the triangular mouth of the cave. It is his cave, he says. He is tall and tanned with a strong jaw. Around his waist is a hand-woven orange fouta—the wrap-around male skirt that is traditional for many Yemeni men. He wears no shirt. “I do have a sweater,” he says, “but I don’t like it. I much prefer to be free.” He calls himself Abdullah the Caveman, and that’s partially true. His mother was born in this cave, and he too was raised in it. Now he also has a house in the nearby town. His wife and six children live there, and he goes back each evening. “We argue over what to watch on television,” he complains. “My wife only likes dramas.”
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The Galapagos of the Indian Ocean
- New Scientist
I hadn't thought a scientific expedition would involve cockroaches or pirates, and certainly not both. And yet there we were, our team of four, sailing through a part of the Indian Ocean synonymous with Somali piracy, aboard a wooden cargo ship filled with a population of many thousands of grudging insects. We shared our sweaty cabin with a crew of 12 Gujarati sailors. In between watching for other vessels and clambering among the bags of cement on deck, our three days at sea were punctuated only by visits to the ship’s “toilets”: two wooden boxes strapped to the outside of the hull. Glamorous it wasn’t, but none of us would have wished to be anywhere else.
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- Pilgimage and a leap of faith- Arba'een in southern Iraq
- The Sunday Times
- Meeting the World's Most Mysterious Sect
- The i Paper
- The Kindness of Strangers
- Irish Times
- What a 1,000-mile solo walk through the Middle East taught me
- The Telegraph
- Is walking the most adventurous way to travel?
- The Last Explorers on the Santa Cruz