Guildford Travel Club Presents

Northern Iran: Assassins and Gold

2nd October 2018

Catherine Moorehead

blue domed mosque

A 2800 km trip through Iran's northern regions, from the Turkish to the Afghan borders via the Zagros and Alborz mountains and the Great Salt Desert.

Following a long-standing interest in Persian culture, Catherine set out from the north-eastern earthquake city of Tabriz. A visit to nearby Armenian churches near Nakchevan was followed by winding across the Zagros plateau, near Iraq, past cave systems and ancient rock-friezes, in an area now largely populated by Kurds.

Moving northwards, Catherine headed into the high-Alpine Alborz mountains, on the southern fringes of the Caspian Sea, to visit the cliff-top fortresses of the medieval Assassins’ cult.

After a stopover in Tehran, she crossed one of the hottest areas on the planet, the Great Salt Desert, to reach Iran’s holiest city, Mashad, near the Afghan border and birthplace of the Eighth Imam. A trip which reversed several preconceptions of Iran, a sleeping but welcoming giant.

Catherine Moorehead started life in Nairn,'the Brighton of the North', near Inverness. Educated at the very good local state school, Nairn Academy, and then as a Scholar at Gordonstoun, she progressed to an Hons MA in Eng Lang and Lit at Edinburgh University. After a couple of years teaching in France, she went on to teach English at a succession of state and private schools, finishing with the humorous but serious title of 'Mistress of Scholars' at the Royal Grammar School Guildford.

When not writing and trying to promote real teaching, her main outside interest is hill-walking and mountaineering, having led six expeditions to unexplored parts of Central Asia, and completing her Munros in 1996. Otherwise, she enjoys reading, gastronomy, astronomy, erratically-played chess and expanding her wine and whisky collections.

Catherine is an Associate Member of the Alpine Club and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

high mountain scenery
Iran has a considerable area of mountainous terrain
busy scene outside mosque
Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad
figurative decoration
Golestan Palace, Tehran
bas relief scene
Behistun Inscription, rock relief near Kermanshah
monastery in the hills
Saint Stepanos Armenian Monastery, near Julfa