Weekend Warm-Up: Into the Empty Quarter

Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron hauling their cart in the Empty Quarter Desert. Photo: Humphreys/McCarron.

In the first of ExWeb’s new Weekend Warm-Up series, we bring you an adventure story from the heat of the Arabian Peninsula.

On a journey inspired by their hero, Wilfred Thesiger, an English travel writer and explorer, Leon McCarron and Alastair Humphreys walked 1,600 kilometres into the Empty Quarter, a particularly desolate section of the Arabian Desert spanning the countries of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.

Writing about Thesiger and the inspiration for the trip, Humphreys said:

Major Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, CBE, DSO, FRAS, FRGS—to give his full title—was the stereotypical old-fashioned British explorer: tall, craggy-featured, and equally at ease wearing Arab robes or a sharp London three-piece suit. He was eccentric, hard-as-nails, and lived a life filled with extraordinary adventure.

Thesiger had “the man’s courage to live out the boy’s dream.” His greatest book, Arabian Sands, is considered a classic of British travel writing. It encouraged me to think ambitiously, but simply, about big journeys of my own. His prose is sparse and measured, thoughtful and honest. He was committed to always testing himself. He lived ascetically and strived to match the Bedu’s high standards: The harder the life, Thesiger believed, the finer the person. And ever since I read Arabian Sands I dreamed of one day making a journey in his footsteps, into the Empty Quarter desert.

You can watch the festival cut below, or the full 60-minute movie via the following link (Password: DesertFilm). Access to the full version will expire on the 28 May.


About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash is an outdoor and adventure writer from the UK. He juggles a day job as a public health scientist with a second career in outdoor writing.

His words have featured in national newspapers, international magazines, and on various websites. Major bylines include Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Porsche, Outside Magazine, Rock and Ice, and Red Bull.

He holds two degrees in Exercise and Health Sciences, and a PhD in Public Health.

His areas of expertise are polar expeditions, mountaineering, hiking, and adventure travel. In his spare time Ash enjoys going on small independent sledding expeditions, outdoor photography, and reading adventure literature.

Read more at www.ashrouten.com or follow Ash via @ashrouten on Twitter and Instagram.

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