Since 2015, the Transcaucasian Trail Association (TCTA) has been developing a 3,000km hiking trail across the Caucasus Mountains. The finished Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) will consist of two 1,500km sections spanning Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
The northern route follows the Greater Caucasus Mountains and connects the Black and Caspian Seas. The southern route spans the Lesser Caucasus Mountains from the Black Sea to the Aras River.
While the trail is still being developed in Azerbaijan, there are currently hundreds of kilometres of trail open to the public. The TCTA hope that a 1,200km route from northwest Georgia to southern Armenia will be fully open by 2022.
Due to COVID, Patrick Noonan was restricted from travelling outside his own country. So he thru-hiked around 650km (400 mi) across Ireland, from Dublin to Dursey Island, at the tip of the Beara Peninsula.
Walking Land’s End to John o’Groats wasn’t the original plan. All I wanted was freedom. I had worked as a civil servant for three years, first in central government as the country grappled with Brexit, then, after the pandemic hit, on the Covid response. Through the tumult, my colleagues were pleasant and supportive, and the material circumstances of my life did not change. When I took a burnout questionnaire, though, I ticked every box: tiredness, torpor, tetchiness. I’m normally a silly person. But I wasn’t smiling much. I’m normally a creative person. But nothing was happening in my brain. I felt bleached.
All I wanted was to be free, of emails and objectives and obligations which could only disappoint, of defined, quantifiable purpose. I wanted to luxuriate in pure freedom, to walk in a wild, blank void. If our culture of metrics and targets and progress were more receptive to the idea of pointlessness as a point, I might instead have quoted another naturalist, Henry David Thoreau. He wrote that creative thoughts are like birds, coming to us only if they have branches to settle. “If the grove in our minds is laid waste – sold to feed unnecessary fires of ambition – they no longer build or breed with us.” I needed to do nothing but walk and wallow in swamp and marrow for the trees to heal, for the birds to come back. The walk was more to do with that.
Ursula Martin defines herself as an ‘extreme rambler’. And that she certainly is. Between 2014 and 2015, she walked 3,700 miles in and around her homeland of Wales, all whilst undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. Along the way she raised over £12,000 for cancer charities and helped to draw attention to the symptoms of ovarian cancer to thousands of people.
A few years later, Ursula embarked on another trek, hitchhiking from Wales to Eastern Europe to begin a solo walk across the bulk of the continent. Starting in Ukraine, she travelled through the Balkans and into Southern Europe, steadily making her way towards the Atlantic Ocean. All was going well enough until the beginning of 2020, when a roadblock arrived in the form of a global pandemic.
To make the entire journey human-powered, he will row from Sardinia to Sicily, across the Strait of Messina and across Lake Maggiore — 300km in all.
Starting in Santa Teresa di Gallura, a small seaside village on the north coast of Sardinia, he “indulged in one last beer” on February 7 before finding shelter for the night away from the wind. He didn’t bother putting up his tent but came to regret it when it began to pour in the middle of the night.