James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

Akavas Gorge (barefoot)

Winding down towards the Western coast of Cyprus, Akavas Gorge is an artery carrying water and bringing life to a rich and verdant ecosystem. Besides being a botanists or geologists dream, it is difficult not to be impressed and a little overwhelmed by the imposing towers a rock that rise up as you penetrate further upstream.

A little while ago I was lucky enough to spend a morning exploring the gorge. By pure coincidence I had just finished ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall. (I had been reliably informed to delay the certain epiphany that results from its pages, until all my exams were over.)

As predicted, within 24 hours I had unreasonably, and most likely unwisely, removed my footwear. An action as simple as taking off my shoes was surprisingly exhilarating. I got a few unusual glances from walkers we passed and a rather bemused look from my girlfriend Jess. Unwittingly I had become a rule-breaker.

I won’t get too carried away with the romance of feeling the bare earth and rock beneath my feet, but it’s definitely worth a try. If there’s one thing that’ll stop you returning to that world of shoes, it’s that gritty, sand-between-the-toes moment, when you slip your socks back on.


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