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Walking the Nile with Captain Levison Wood - Race against Time

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: July 19, 2014

  • Sunrise over the Nile

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After seven months on the road, with almost five countries and 3000 miles crossed, the former paratrooper Captain Levison Wood, aged 32, of Forsbrook, is nearing the border between Sudan and southern Egypt.

However on this occasion, and with the Islamic festival of Ramadan due, he is in a race to cross the frontier before it closes for a month.

Being a militarised zone it is impossible to walk through customs, rather the only way to cross is by boat.

Having tried to make the same crossing several years ago by land when he was transporting two ambulances from Blythe Bridge to Malawi, Levison was unceremoniously arrested and placed into gaol.

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The Egyptian Secret police took a lot of convincing that he was not a gun runner at the time and resulted in him being constantly followed everywhere he went until he hired a boat to take himself and the vehicles south.

To avoid a similar delay and fate he has imposed upon himself a tortuous and punishing routine of at least 30 miles per day over the last two weeks to ensure he reaches the border before the close down.

The following extracts are taken from Levison's personal diary which details his time walking through this part of Sudan. Sudan: Nubian pyramids and tombs

"Walking through the Nubian desert has been extremely gruelling with midday temperatures reaching over 62c.

"There is no shade to hide from the sun, so we endure the heat, resting beside the camels and conserving our energy until late in the afternoon when we recommence our journey.

"Our camels are proving our best purchase yet and our two handlers Awad and Ahmad are a bonus allowing us to make excellent time.

"Without the water they carry for us, the trek would not be possible!

"After a long days march, we finally arrive in the ancient kingdom of Kush which is situated in the great bend of the river and stretches northwards all the way to the border.

"It is a beautiful and majestic place, littered with dozens of pyramids and beehive shaped tombs dating back over 2500 years.

"Being the burial place of the Nubian kings and queens we feel very privileged to spend our evenings on this hallowed ground and stare with awe at the umbrella of countless stars that stretch above us into infinity.

"It's on occasions like this you realise just how small you are in the grand scheme of things.

"As darkness falls, we sit close to our comforting fire and my travelling companion and interpreter Moez begins yet another nightly routine of stories from his youth.

"The dim yet familiar outline of Burton, Speke and Gordon our camels are close by, positioned by the soft hum provided by our two Sudanese colleagues who sing softly the words that have been spoken down the centuries in this place a land of true magic and romance.

"Walking forever northward we come across an amazing variety of unseen and unrecorded archaeology.

"Egyptian monoliths belonging to the goddess Hathor who embodied many principles of beauty, motherhood and music, stand like silent sentinels in the desert.

"Then we spot a large rock bearing some ancient graffiti which apparently translates to 'We woz here' and bearing a figure not so dissimilar to Kilroy.

"It's nice to know that people down the ages have had a sense of humour.

"Although the desert appears on the surface to be devoid of life, animals such as the camel spider, some snakes and a few bird species have managed to adapt to the terrain and extreme heat.

"The spider which looks similar to the common scorpion has a reputation for chasing human beings, yet in reality it is only seeking shade.

"However when this little beastie heads straight for you it can be quite disconcerting.

"With the Festival of Ramadan rapidly approaching I am overcome with remorse that I cannot spend longer taking in all the wonders that this country has to offer.

"Never the less I make the decision to push the team harder and set us a daily minimum distance of 25-30 miles.

"With the midsummer solstice approaching in the northern hemisphere the temperatures in the Sudan are at their highest as the Tropic of Cancer marks its northern border with Egypt.

"I mark this occasion by watching the sunrise over the Nile and think of the thousands gathering at Stonehenge who are doing just the same." To see if Captain Wood manages to achieve his goal and reach the border on time, readers can follow his exploits by logging onto Walking the Nile @ Channel 4 or on Facebook/ Twitter.

Better still read more from his personal diary in this newspaper

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