The First Mile

Ep9: Leon McCarron on Slow Travel and Misunderstood Places

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Episode notes


In this episode, Ash meets Leon McCarron: writer, broadcaster, and North Face explorer.

Leon has walked a 1000-mile loop of the Holy Land, crossed China from north to south, and travelled on foot in Kosovo, Armenia and on the Yemeni island of Socotra. He has also cycled 14,000 miles across three continents, walked through the Empty Quarter desert, and ridden across Patagonia on horseback. Leon’s work seeks out stories of humanity and nuance in parts of the world that are often demonised or misunderstood by Western media. 

In this episode, find out:

  • About Leon’s 1,000 mile walk through the Middle East (including why Leon and Pip found themselves walking along a smugglers route in Jordan!).
  • Why Leon’s travels turned from journeys focused on landscapes to those focused on people and what he’s learned as a result.
  • How to tell powerful stories - the power and use of journaling, and why less is more.
  • How Leon created his career path.
  • How Leon enjoys telling stories by travelling on foot.
  • Why reading works by local authors not only aids understanding but also excitement about visiting a country.
  • Leon’s experience witnessing the Arbaʽeen Pilgrimage that takes place in Iraq.
  • How and why Leon has helped establish new walking trails in central China and northern Iraq.
  • Why people’s careers are not always what they appear.
  • Why you might want to avoid googling popular travel destinations.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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