'What’s in a Line?'

Charlie Walker to Speak about a Border Line Triathlon between Europe and Asia.

In November 2017, Charlie Walker completed an eight month, 9,000 km triathlon along the border separating Europe and Asia. But ‘Following the Line’ was much more than a mere endurance feat. It was an exploration into what it means to be Asian or European.

 Along the way, Charlie questioned what divides or unites people either side of the line and used the journey as a field survey into the landscapes, environments, religions and cultures that exist in the borderlands that traditionally demarcated East and West.

 The Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) is delighted to announce that British explorer and blogger Charlie Walker will be presenting ‘Following the Line: An Eight-Month Eurasian Triathlon’ in Perth on Tuesday 13th November as part of the Inspiring People talk series.

 Setting off from the Arctic coast of northern Russia, Charlie’s journey began on cross-country skis. Heading south, he followed the spine of the Ural Mountains, dodging bears and surviving nerve-wracking whiteouts on snowy ridgelines.

The next leg saw Charlie begin paddling, following over 2,000 km of the Ural River, from its mountainous upper course to its mouth in the Caspian Sea. On the way, temperatures and spirits soared as did the skylines of Russian industrial cities such as Energetik that he paddled past.

Then, it was time for the bike: 2,500 miles of cycling, traversing the spectacular Caucasus Mountains, skirting the Black Sea coast and ending up on the sunny banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. ‘The Gateway to Asia’ was the end point for Charlie’s mammoth adventure.

In all, Charlie experienced extreme temperatures ranging from -45˚C to +50˚C, three arrests by the KGB, bewitching landscapes, fascinating and friendly people, terrifying remoteness and events that will linger long in the memory. But most importantly, he learned that the line he had been following for eight months only really exists on a map.

In reality, he found that very little changes geographically in the borderlands between Europe and Asia, with its people, in particular, looking, acting and living in very similar ways either side. As Charlie sums up in his final expedition blog post:

“We're all the same really, or at least, it would help if we tried to believe that.”

Speaking about his upcoming talk, Charlie commented:

 “I'm very excited to come to Scotland and speak among the RSGS line up of Inspiring People. It's an honour to be invited by such an historical and well-respected organisation. In telling this story, I aim to encourage audiences to dream big and tackle their goals, however mad or impossible they might seem.”

 As an adventurer, Charlie has also walked across the Gobi Desert, crossed the Mongolian Steppe on a horse called Little Nicky, canoed 500 km along a little-known tributary of the River Congo and cycled 43,000 miles around Europe, Asia and Africa on a four-and-a-half year journey of discovery.

Charlie will talk at the Salutation Hotel, 34 South Street, Perth, PH2 8PH on Tuesday 13th November; it begins at 7.30pm.

Tickets for John’s talk will be available on the door or online via Eventbrite until noon the day before. Please see rsgs.org/events for links and further details. Full price tickets are £10; they are £8 for Tiso Outdoor Experience Cardholders and free for RSGS members, students and U18s.

Abigail Shepherd