Stories / December 2018

Levison Wood: The Last Boy Scout

The author, adventurer and photographer Levison Wood caught up with The Rake to talk bug infested jackets, evacuations, and how to blend in to survive.

When Levison Wood calls, he kindly informs me that he’s on the train. "I just did a night speaking at my hometown (of Stoke) and now I’m heading back to London." The 11:30 Virgin Train between Stoke-on-Trent and London Euston may not be as ambitious as Wood’s previous trips – which have included three televised journeys walking the Nile, the Americas and the Himalayas – but it’s fitting that I’ve caught him in transit. The author, photographer, and veteran (Wood served as an Officer in Afghanistan) is approaching the end of his one-man theatre tour up-and-down the UK, sharing tales of his most recent adventure across the Arabian Peninsula. Thirteen countries, five-thousand miles, and four months later; travelling war-torn Syria, Iraq, al-Qaeda-infested southern Yemen, and the Israeli-Palestinian region; he acknowledges that "it’s not everyone’s typical idea of a good time." But Wood himself is not a typical explorer. Apart from publishing his experiences in the bestselling book, ‘Arabia: A Journey Through the Heart of the Middle East’, and editing footage for the documentary - not to mention that theatre tour - he’s an ambassador of good taste: having collaborated with British brands Belstaff and Oliver Sweeney, while bringing Bennett Winch bags on his trips (which you can shop here). He supports a number of charities and was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. "It’s a conflicting lifestyle," he replies stoically, when I ask whether he feels like taking a break. "I travel seven to eight weeks at a time – then it’s back to London for more work." He chuckles, then reflects, "I think I deserve a proper holiday."

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Chris Cotonou