Walk the Masar: Leon Returns to the Trail

Walk the Masar: Leon Returns to the Trail

Not all adventures are pulled off without a hitch, and how we deal with adversity can be one of the biggest factors in the success of any expedition.

Such is the lesson learned by our “Walk the Masar” crew, Leon McCarron and Dave Cornthwaite. After setting out in late 2015, Leon and Dave enjoyed their first month on the trail, making it from Israel to Jordan before doom and gloom set in.

It was Dave’s first experience in long-distance hiking, and his body wasn’t a huge fan of carrying a heavy pack and walking day, after day, after day. His foot starting hurting, and a doctor in Jordan informed them of the stress fracture.

The original plan was to give Dave a few weeks off and return to the trail. The two returned to normalcy in England for a short bit before Dave’s doctor gave him some terrible news: due to complications and slower healing than expected, continuing on the “Walk the Masar” project would not be prudent.

Dave has turned his eyes towards a brand new adventure. He is heading to Bali, to do some work for Caravanserai, a start-up seeking to include membership in a new world-wide communal living project.  His time in island paradise will include writing, relaxing, healing in the sun, as well as filling a role as a community leader for Caravanserai to help their project go as smoothly as possible. Also be sure to check out his facebook page and his new “Life is Not Like Instagram” series!

Meanwhile, Leon has returned to the Middle East, a far cry from the lush tropics but a fascinating and engaging destination nonetheless. Leon has not found a Dave replacement, but will be joined by some friends along the way and make some of the journey on his own.

He’s bound to be a bit lonely, so make sure to follow along and interact on his facebook page which provides great photos and commentary of his daily adventures! He (and Dave) are also posting content to their Walk the Masar homepage, which also has resources to contact them for speaking and school engagements.

Here are his first three social media posts to catch you up:


“I’m here. Where? At the start of my masar, on the Roman roads of Umm Qais.

Behind me, only a few kilometres away, is a patchwork panorama of complexity; countries, territories and disputed regions that have brought infamy and heartbreak to this corner of the world.

Above me are dull rain clouds, their energy spent, and below me the result of those downpours has gathered in shallow pools on ancient volcanic rock.

This was once the Main Street of a thriving city- the Decumanus Maximus- but now the basalt cobbles have only me to walk them. In a way thats fine by me – I will have to get used to wandering alone now- but I can’t help thinking that if this road was in another place – one not within a stone throw of Israel and Syria for example – then there might be others here too. That’s the great sadness, for there is no war here; only eye-watering vistas over empty lands and 2000 year old stonework lying alone in the wind. This is as impressive a site as you might see anywhere in the world. It’s safe, and it’s relatively accessible, but yet still few tourists come, much to the despair of few remaining guides who slope around the ticket booth, smoking cigarettes and watching clips of English football on their smartphones.

My direction onwards from here is simple- forward! For the discerning reader: south. Into the rain, into the wind. Into the mountains of the Ajloun region of northern Jordan, and back on the masar after a much-too-lengthy break.




“The view from Umm Qais: the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Tiberius/Tabariyyeh), the Yarmouk Gorge, and the Golan Heights.

It’s odd to look at and be so close to Syria – just a couple of kilometres away – in such a quiet and peaceful place. In the foreground, back in Jordan, are the ruins of an abandoned Ottoman village. Straight ahead, although not visible, is the Mediterranean- probably not more than 70km as the crow flies.

This is as close as I will get to any of these places, of course- my masar will take me in the opposite direction. For the next few days, however, I expect similarly green and rolling landscapers; the deserts of the south seem, as yet, a world away.



“What’s a wadi? it’s a dry riverbed, and I’ll be walking through and across hundreds of them during my journey in this (mostly arid) part of the world.

Occasionally, though, wadis will revert to their original function. Two solid days of rain in the northern part of the Ajloun region for example, have turned this into a torrent. And here’s the catch- I need to get across, somehow…


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