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Public Lecture Series with Leon McCarron

The Land Beyond: A Thousand Miles On Foot through the Heart of the Middle East

In December 2015, Leon set off from Jerusalem to walk 1000 miles through the heart of the Middle East. He would travel through the area that is perhaps most familiar to audiences in the West – the Holy Land. To help put together a route, he drew upon the work of a series of audacious trail-building projects in the area that would allow him to travel mostly via countryside, mountains and through small and rural communities all the way from Jerusalem to Mount Sinai, via Jordan, and then back once more to Jerusalem within the space of half a year.

The journey took him first through the rolling green hills and terraced olive groves of the West Bank, then into the deep chasm-like wadis and ancient kingdoms of Jordan. He walked through cities like Bethlehem and Jericho, and past the ruins of ancient Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman communities. The ancient Nabatean capital of Petra and the lunar landscapes of Wadi Rum – made famous, of course, by Lawrence of Arabia - finally brought Leon to the shores of the Red Sea.

From the eastern coast of the Sinai peninsula he walked across the vast, rugged deserts with Bedouin companions and a camel (to the mountains where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments) and then completed the journey by coming back through the Negev desert to arrive in Jerusalem once more.

Along the way Leon collected the thoughts and stories of the people that he met, and explored the rich past, tense present and uncertain future of the region. He also looked at how contemporary borders and checkpoints have affected the land and its peoples, and the role of walking as a possible way to make divided lands feel whole again. Working on the premise that the brain works best at 3 miles per hour, this talk explores the various layers of culture, history, faith and politics at work in the bubbling cauldron of one of the most complex and compelling places on earth - the Holy Land.



A Northern Irish adventurer, author, and filmmaker, McCarron is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and specializes in long distance, human-powered expeditions.

At the end of 2012 he crossed 1000 miles of the Empty Quarter desert, roughly following the route of explorer Wilfred Thesiger and pulling a 300 kg. cart loaded with supplies. In May 2012 he concluded a 6-month, 3000 mile expedition walking the length of China, from the Gobi desert in Mongolia to South China Sea in Hong Kong. National Geographic produced a 4-part TV series of the journey.

Other journeys include 14,000 miles solo and unsupported on a bicycle from New York to Hong Kong, a folding bike trip around the British Isles to climb the Six Peaks, a human-powered descent of the longest river in Iran, the Karun, and a crossing of Argentine Patagonia on horseback. In 2017 he was the recipient of the Royal Geographical Society's Neville Shulman Challenge Award, and spent a month with the Israelite Samaritans documenting the way of life of perhaps the world's smallest and oldest ethno-religious group.

He is also the author of “The Road Headed West”, about his bicycle journey across North America, and the director of two films, “Karun”, about his adventures in Iran, and the recently released “Nowhere is a Place”, about his 2014 trip recreating the Fitzroy/Darwin expedition of the Santa Cruz river across Argentina in 1834.

McCarron grew up in Northern Ireland and studied film at the University of Kent.

Date: Monday, April 23

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $25

Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid student ID

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