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A Slow Ride to Tehran: Rebecca Lowe in Conversation

Thursday 28 September 2023 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Join Rebecca Lowe as she discusses her incredible journey cycling from the Uk to Tehran..SOLO

In 2015, as the Syrian War raged and the refugee crisis reached its peak, Rebecca Lowe set off on her bicycle across the Middle East. Driven by a desire to learn more about this troubled region and its relationship with the West, Lowe’s 11,000-kilometre route took her through Europe to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, the Gulf and finally to Iran.

It was an odyssey through landscapes and history that captured her heart, but also a deeply challenging cycle across mountains, deserts and repressive police states that nearly defeated her. Plagued by punctures and battling temperatures ranging from -6 to 48˚C, Lowe was rescued frequently, by farmers and refugees, villagers and urbanites alike, and relied almost entirely on the kindness and hospitality of locals to complete this living portrait of the modern Middle East.

The Slow Road to Tehran is her evocative, deeply researched and often very funny account of her journey – and the people, politics and culture she encountered.

‘Lowe recounts the beauty, kindnesses and complexities of the lands she travels through with an illuminating insight. A wonderful new travel writer.’


‘By cycling solo across the Middle East for 11,000 kilometres, Rebecca Lowe has achieved a remarkable feat. Her account of this grand journey is admirably observant, unfailingly humane and humorously self-aware to just the right degree. She shows sensitivity to the uniquely Middle Eastern lives she encounters while also maintaining an eye for their chaotic opera of quotidian dramas. This is a book that makes you laugh, gasp, cry and learn something about the many peoples of the Middle East.’


‘The book is a fascinating ride through entire cultures, with the diversity and vibrancy of south-east Europe and the Middle East fully on show … For all cycling enthusiasts, those interested in the culture and history of the Middle East, or just those impressed by feats of endurance, Lowe’s tale is a must-read.’


‘The idea of cycling from England to Iran seems to me completely barmy – heroically barmy, magnificently barmy, in the style of the great travellers of the past who walked on foot to the South Pole or rode on camels to China. Not even straight to Iran, but by way of Egypt and Sudan, the Sahara and the Persian Gulf – 11,000 kilometres – a whole year balanced on two wheels, held upright and propelled only by her own muscle-power. Over impossible mountain ranges, on uncyclable roads, through states where being a foreigner or a woman is discouraged. She writes about it with wonderful vividness and self-mockery. And she is a real traveller. She stays, eats, and drinks, one way or another, with local people, and for brief, intense moments shares a little of their lives. She knows an extraordinary amount about the history and current politics of everywhere she goes, always complex and usually painful, with problems often shamingly rooted in the colonialist inheritance. Everywhere she discovers a reciprocal friendliness and curiosity, and a changing world that often belies the expectations that outsiders have of it.’


‘Here’s a book in the great tradition of the British lone traveller – those spirited individuals who set off to explore Foreign Lands with an open heart, determined against all odds to see what joys they might find. Rebecca Lowe is a cross between her two illustrious forebears, Eric Newby and Dervla Murphy. Her carefully woven tale is insightful, delightful – full of gusto and grit, and always entertaining.’


‘ funny and freewheeling account … Lowe, a freelance British journalist, has a forthright confidence that brings to mind those earlier Middle Eastern adventurers Freya Stark and Gertrude Bell.’


‘Beautifully capturing the joys of solo adventuring … highly entertaining and impressively valiant.’


‘Illuminating, gripping and often funny.’


‘ is a perceptive writer who finds new ways to think about the complex peoples, histories and politics of the countries she journeys through.’



Rebecca Lowe is a freelance journalist from London who specialises in human rights and the Middle East.

During her career, Rebecca has written for publications including the Guardian, BBC, Independent, Huffington Post, Economist, Sunday Times Magazine, Daily Mail, Evening Standard, Spectator, IranWire and numerous travel, music and sports magazines. From 2010-15, she was the lead reporter at the International Bar Association, where she focused on human rights and the rule of law, and in 2018 she contributed to the adventure travel anthology The Kindness of Strangers: Travel Stories That Make Your Heart Grow, published by Summersdale. Rebecca is a Fellow at the Royal Geographical Society, and holds a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University and an MA in Journalism from Stanford University, where she was awarded a scholarship.

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Thursday 28 September 2023
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
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The Wanstead Tap Ltd
352 Winchelsea Road
London, England E7 0AQ United Kingdom


The Wanstead Tap