"We'd just left the West Bank and crossed into Jordan and were climbing up from the Jordan Valley... and it just gave way."

Judging by the most of the media coverage of the Middle East, one might expect the biggest danger to travellers to be a stray bullet or a kidnapping, but for Dave Cornthwaite and his fellow adventurer Leon McCarron, it was the attritional, routine process of hiking with heavy packs that has stemmed their journey.

After leaving Jerusalem in early December, making their way through the West Bank and crossing over into Jordan, the pair had to postpone their 1,000 mile walk through the Holy Land after Cornthwaite suffered a stress fracture in his foot just before Christmas.

"It’s just nicely tucked away in a very sexy little black boot, so it’s gently healing," Cornthwaite explains to i100.

The pair are following in the long tradition of intrepid British explorers in the Middle East - from Wilfred Thesiger to Gertrude Bell - who've fallen for the region's landscapes and cultures.

But tourism has really suffered in the past few years - with the wars raging in Syria and Iraq, terror attacks in Egypt and the ongoing tensions between Israel and Palestine pushing many holidaymakers elsewhere.

I’ve always found everywhere I go in the Middle East I’ve been welcomed incredibly well, sort of at times frustratingly well - you have to go through six cups of tea before you can walk out of town.

But now I was getting the impression that it’s even more heightened, and not in a kind of sycophantic way, but just in places where people have been used to seeing tourists they’re so glad to see that someone is still willing to come.

They’re very keen to start conversations... We rarely go more than a few hours without having some kind of lengthy conversation with a guy and a donkey somewhere.

  • Leon McCarron
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