When I decided last summer to build the Transcaucasian Trail, I had no idea just what kind of a political mess I was getting myself into. I don’t mean the regional geopolitics of the Caucasus, either. That’s actually pretty clear-cut. Some areas are off-limits, some borders are closed. Thankfully, none of this actually affects a […]
Agendas – hidden or otherwise – seem to play a big part in trail development. Sometimes there is a peace-building motive, knitting together fragmented nations by means of a common travel corridor. More often an effort is framed in terms of the future financial benefits, which usually boils down to a simple equation between more trails and more tourism dollars. But it is rare to come across a trailbuilding effort in this part of the world that whose primary stated aim is to improve access to the outdoors for its own sake.
When I was a child, many of my classmates joined a mysterious organisation called the Scouts. They would return from weekends and evenings away with the most fabulous tales of camping out, cooking over fires, roaming the forests, building stuff out of wood, and generally having all sorts of excellent adventures in the great outdoors. These alluring stories […]
Characterised by wild moorlands, terrible roads, and an unintelligible local dialect, the province of Syunik is a large but sparsely populated region at the far end of Armenia, sufficiently far from the capital to have retained its own unique cultural identity. Much like Yorkshire, in fact.
I’ve been trying desperately to think of a compelling angle for a blog post about the 12 days of driving from London to Yerevan. But the truth of the matter is that a really long drive on good highways does not make for particularly interesting storytelling. This is subjective, of course…
There’s nothing like a brand spanking new Defender 110 rolling onto your driveway to tell you that things are about to get real, real serious. And I’m not much of a petrol-head, but I will admit that there is a twinge of excitement about the vehicular aspect of this expedition. It’s not just because the […]
I write to you today from the bottom of a very large hole. I have spent the last few months digging this hole. Sometimes I pause digging and ask myself: “Tom, if no expedition you’ve ever organised has gone to plan, nor ended in the way you intended, why are you spending so much time […]
More than once in recent weeks I’ve found myself lying awake at night, my mind refusing to take a break from thinking, planning, worrying. How on Earth do you create a brand new long distance hiking trail? Because I’ve committed to doing this thing. I really have. I’ve cleared my entire schedule for 2016 to […]