40 days & 40 nights in the holy land: a 1000 mile walk through Jordan, Palestine and Israel.

Part four: Golan Heights


~900 miles


4 weeks

Elevation Gain

31,000 metres


February – March 2022

In winter 2023 I walked across Jordan, Israel, Palestine and the illegally occupied Syrian territory of the Golan Heights. I made up my own route along with following the Jordan Trail, Israel National Trail and Golan Trail. It ended up being about 1000 miles of desert ramble, including 30,000m of ascent, which I completed in just over a month. I didn’t cache any water along the way, as pretty much everyone else says you absolutely have to do. It’s possible to do this without caching if you plan meticulously and can cover a decent amount of ground each day.

The following texts are taken directly from my Instagram posts I made along the way, so might not appear that coherent when read on this site.

“Golan Heights”

I had imagined this moment in my head a thousand times as I stepped onto the snowy slopes of Mount Hermon. I was taking the last step of my 1300km journey across Jordan, Israel and Palestine and I had imagined that this moment would come with feelings of a chapter closed, lessons learned, the history and politics of this area understood and neatly summarised in my head. What a fool I am.
After walking for five weeks in the desert it was strange to end my walk surrounded by snow near a ski resort. I had just walked the length of the Golan Heights, a 500 sq m upland plateau in Syria which was captured and annexed by Israel in 1967. From up here you can see the flat lowlands of Galilee, the Sea of Galilee and the mountains of Lebanon to the west, and to the east the infinite plains of Syria stretching far into the distance.
It’s a strange place in so many ways. Strange to be surrounded by green and even cows again after so many weeks of muted desert browns. Strange to be walking through a seemingly infinite battlefield, strewn with abandoned tanks, underground bunkers, trenches and minefields. From my tent pitched high up on the plateau I could look down simultaneously into the flickering lights of both Israeli and Syrian villages and imagine how life can be so different for the inhabitants in each one. At one point I was so close to the Syrian border I could hear the call to prayer and shouts from villagers from across the de-militarised zone. One can’t help but think of these borders, imaginary lines drawn up and fought over by thousands of years of flawed human beings.
Israel demolished over one hundred Syrian villages and farms in the Golan Heights. After the demolitions, the lands were given to Israeli settlers. Some of these silent, eerie remains I walked through were more modern concrete structures but a couple were sprawling remains of beautiful old dry stone walled houses, left to crumble in the weather and be taken over by the trees. In the village of Khishniyah the bombed-out mosque still sports its minaret intact, a ghostly relic standing silhouetted across the plateau.