Lycian Way

THE LYCIAN WAY 3

Olsen treated us well at his coming together camp/ A frame site outside of Kalkan. Our conversation relied completely on google translate which meant it was not smooth flowing or wide ranging but we did discover he was a professional footballer for Galasataray for many years.

Unfortunately the mosquitoes in the A frames did not treat us well and the little sleep was frequently interrupted by high pitched buzzing followed by frantic hunting and slapping- and repeat.

So it was kind of a relief when the Iman started his 5.50 call to prayer- our cue to get up and get hiking. Up across rocky olive groves and scrub and the stoniest fields I’ve seen. There are a lot of very stony fields here.

Up to a main road where a platform resting place ( kosk) was next to an old water cistern and ruins. And strangely a scattering of graves beside the road.

Next up, literally, a long climb. First up tarmac road of new villas, then bulldozed track awaiting new villas, then old roman road- now still used as animal migration route to get the goats to high pasture (yayla) for the summer months.

Already hot we stopped at a cistern that had a bucket and had a cold water wash and cool down.

The vegetation here can be merciless. A lot of the time long trousers and sleeves are needed but we are usually in shorts and quite often top less so the thorny scrub has taken its toll.

The rocky ground and fear of falling or twisted ankle means our eyes are on the ground a lot but every time we look up- a vista appears.

Coming into the next village, Bezirgan, up on the high plane between the mountain ranges (Ova), we passed through rows of the wooden grain stores (ambars).

A scattered agricultural village with lots of grain fields and fruit trees, there were huge sacks of apples awaiting collection and juicy bunches of wild grapes hanging out over our route from the hedgerows. A narrow walled path led us out and up.

A different landscape again either side of Saribelen where we carried on past the stage end to wild camp and shorten the distance of the next days hike. We found a lovely spot amongst Burren like limestone formations and settled in for the night.

The moon nearly full on the light rocks and the wind blowing through the giant pines above us made for a interesting night but early morning we were off again to climb higher over a pass then down into another valley, past a charcoal burners circle and over an empty and austere but beautiful ova. The level going made for some rapid progress after much tortuous stumbling over stones ground.

On a wide tractor track we climbed up till we had views of the coast again and continued on this high ground before dropping down again into another ova.

This was the home of Huseyin and the red and white markets led us straight to the little house where his wife? Called us in for cay, tea, and pronounced as in the Indian Chai.

A fine hardworking lady, who showed me her arthritic hands and left me wondering about her life.

It was a magical place,with goat topiary, fantastic stone, wonderful woodland, flat fields for grazing and a huge empty landscape. I would love to see these ova’s in spring with fresh green grass and wild flowers.

And there were traces of former lives lived here. Old farmhouses and stone remains of buildings from a dim and distant past.

Coming into the next village and hoping to replenish our supplies at the ” market” (shop) was a slightly surreal affair.

A huge Turkish flag hung in the sky and as we approached a car drew to a halt asking if we wanted breakfast or pension. After telling the couple we only needed the shop, market – he turned the car around and drew to a stop outside Yesil’s Lodging and proceeded with the hard sell. Later we were to read he was notorious for being a somewhat aggressive salesmen. The irony was that unless you wanted a bed for the night or a cooked meal his “market” had little to offer.

That wasn’t just a fridge. That was the village shop.

The next strange event happened not long after we had escaped Yesil’s grasping hand when we came upon the younger brother of our friend Gerry Mulkerrins picking rose hips for the cay.

He gave us a big bunch of grapes and we carried on along a long valley into forest covered hills on a path that led us to a Wellcome resting shelter and water fountain.

Refreshed again we began another long and steep climb that had us climbing high over the valley through woodland path and forest track. I startled a family of wild boar at some abandoned shepherds huts and they took off at high speed.

And finally at about 940m we found our camp for the night. A resting platform built under an ancient and huge spreading plain tree next to a dribbling water source.

But even a dribble adds up pretty quick to enough drinking water even when you are getting though about 4 lt a day. It was just as well we were as fortified as we were as just as we were falling asleep, a clatter if hooves on stone announced the arrival of z as large group of horses, perhaps 10, come searching for water. They returned many times throughout the night, sometimes on mass, sometimes in twos or threes. And then the screech owl started.

In the morning we continued up and along a wild overgrown ridge to another extraordinary archeological site- Phellos. Perched high on the end of a precipitous ridge it was most probably a Roman garrison city and has been left to the encroaching scrub for a long time.

And then the long scrambling down through the stumble stones and pricking plants into Cukurbag where some kind person had positioned a free cold water machine on their garden wall.

At the far end of the village, just as we had given up finding breakfast we found Nirvana. Breakfast Nirvana anyway. A beautifully put together complex of garden, houses and rustic cabins that make up 3oda.

A craftman’s vision had gone into the creation of a special place full of quirky features.

And the finest breakfast of homegrown/ homemade fruit, veg, preserves etc etc you could hope for on a long hard hike. A lucky find. 3 Oda.

After a couple of days of bread , cucumber,cheese and tomato and little else, it was a foodie treat and we headed off on the final leg to Kas replete. Easy to start, crossing a wide, flat and dried and cracked area- difficult to finish with an incredibly steep and slippy descent down to Kas.

Thankfully down safely we rewarded ourselves for the hardships endured and to come with a room in a hotel with a pool and buffet breakfast. Tomorrow we go wild down the coast again. Starting with a boat ride.

THE LYCIAN WAY 1.

(Thanks to grand daughter Sylvie for the illustration)

Rambling man is now attempting to hike the Lycian Way, a 20 year old route put together by Kate Clow from a wealth of ancient paths, tracks and drovers roads along the Turkish ” turquoise coast”. A 540 km trek from Fethiye southeast then northeast to near Antalya, it has 29 sections and takes 30 to 33 days. We have only 26 days available so will have to miss a bit.

I say “we” cos I’m joined by Ivor Bundle again. Sadly the planned trip by the Tres Amigos was scuppered when Mickey ( Man of the Mountain) Dawson buggered up his knee and was forced to stay home.

A wise decision as this trek is no place for dodgy knees being pretty rugged in hill walking terms. We’ve only been at it for 4 1/2 days so far and I believe the easier sections are supposed to be at the beginning but it’s been pretty hard going on steep and rocky paths with sections of loose stones and scree ,occasional landslides and rockfall interspersed with wider or flatter mule and tractor tracks. Nearly all off road and totally glorious. Still 30 degrees or more, with packs weighing 12-14kg loaded with food and water, we try to start early and hunt the shade for a breather when we can.

The days are about 12 hours long and full of de-camping, hiking, hiding from sun while lunching, hiking, camping, washing clothes, reading up route etc etc that little time or internet is left for blogging – so if you’re interested in more info on this wonderful route, check online- suffice to say it passes several holiday centres on the coast but mostly travels through small villages of farmers and goat herders and travels up and down between the high pastures and forests and the beaches and harbours of the med. A long long history of a succession of civilisations, cultures and peoples have all left their marks upon the landscape and the hiker will ramble through remains of the ages as they walk here.

We started the adventure at Kayakoy, and after our first Turkish coffee and Turkish delight headed up to explore the old Greek town of Levissi, abandoned after the massacre of Greeks in the Ottoman Emoire during Ww1. A subsequent treaty and population exchange ensured the towns inhabitants could not return.

From the top of the ruined town we had an 8 km walk, following our first red/ white trail markings through a tall forest of pines with occasional views of the Taurus mountains rising pale blue in the distance.

On the far side of the ridge we were a little confused at a junction of ways until a big and boisterous man and his companion showed us the way down to Ölüdeniz and Ovacık, where we had a room prebooked. Turned out he was a publican on the strip of gaudy bars , restaurants, shops and what have you in this most British of resorts. We had no idea that such a place existed here and it was an assault on the senses.

The kindly publican had us in for a drink and we set off to eventually find our hotel, which we sadly left at 7 next morning without time to indulge in the enticing facilities.

Before long we’d made it to the official start of a long journey, fingers and toes crossed.

Immediately we started to rise steeply with views of the beaches and harbour of Ölüdeniz and the capes and headlands beyond. We passed a number of fellow hikers rising from their tents as we climbed first on a wide track and then, a sign of things to come, a rough and stony path.

Access to water is pretty important on this route and I’d bought with me a little cup/ mini bucket and string with which to gather water from the old storage wells or cisterns that dotted the route so was interested to see if the first we passed contained the life juice. It did.

Blue skies, green trees and dried and yellowing scrub made for pretty landscape.

There was abandoned development here and there and lots and lots of bees hives. Later we discovered stalls selling pine honey- a new one to me.

Finally reaching a level section of high ground we took the opportunity to relax a moment and enjoy the one spring fountain we’d found that wasn’t busy with bees.

The first stage end is at Faralya,but after a tasty and hearty lunch at a pension run by a charming and friendly couple we had the strength to carry on to Kabak beach, passing our first Lycian tomb.

Ancient and twisted trees dotted our route that steeply returned to sea level where after a swim we found the Secret Garden campsite hidden away, maybe illegally , in the woods behind the beach. First day, two stages done.

First erection of Ivor’s tent successful and rested by an exhausted sleep we left early next morning to avail of the shade afforded by the towering mountains to the east of us we had now to scale.

Cyclamens and asphodels emerged everywhere from the forest floor as we reached the top and were rewarded with far reaching views.

Old grain terraces and olive groves mostly abandoned, the strong scents of herbs and pine needles in the heat and the deep red of the naked arbutus strawberry tree.

Here and there along the route are little stalls selling cay, (tea) and water, drinks etc. Sometimes manned sometimes with honesty box they usually have resting platforms and shade, lovely shade.

They have lovely little wood burners for heating the tea water and this one had a subterranean cooler.

At Alinca we were treated to more delicious food and Turkish hospitality at a pension / shop/ restaurant. Our hosts have always been very friendly and inquisitive, and the food wholesome, local and homegrown and made. Little gifts of fruit are often offered and the tea cup often refilled.

A grand design modern home sat below us with a view to die for. Location location.

We met a couple that we bumped into often over the next couple of days, the only walkers met on the trail since the first day. Maybe it’s still too hot!

Off again, at a junction we had to decide. One way to join our new friends at the ruins of Sidyma or another route south to the nearer village of Gey. We had run out of time- so headed for Gey. It takes a long time to cover any ground on this terrain and we’re afraid we’d run out of light.

So so hot we used the magnificent old water cistern to cool down. A big metal bucket on a rope thrown into the water and hoisted for a shower. The refreshment lasted moments.

A cross country slog and a final exhausted stretch up a section of road and we arrived in Gey to ask for food and shelter. Taken in by a household we couldn’t decide were in business or not, we pitched in their yard and they again did us proud with dinner , breakfast and shower. Only problem the overpopulation of cocks that crowed incessantly from 4am!

The lady of the house wove carpet and there were huge sacks of wild herbs dried in the shed. The neighbour drew water from the cistern in the morning as we headed away , making for a wild camping spot on the coast about 8 hours hike away.

Beautiful and ancient old olive and holm oak trees, many delicate stacks of stones to mark our way, and so many asphodels poking up from the dry ground from their huge bulbs.

Long abandoned threshing circles and constant vista down towards the coast.

Another village, Bel, another lovely couple and a chance to have tea, cake and shop for supplies. Loaded up with water ( 4 lt) and good we carried on into the heat with a lot of altitude to lose.

Passed the tiny and mostly abandoned village of Gavuragili we continued down towards the pebbly beach still being pounded by big waves, similar to our swim at Kabak beach. We found a nice place to pitch in the cliff top trees next to the campground where there had been a festival last year and still sported the signs and decor. We met our new friends Olga and Basil there and I spent the night star gazing without my fly sheet.

A short day today started at 6 before the burning orb rose into the clear sky with a wash etc at the village washing station before climbing a forest track up and over a ridge and down to views over the flat plain ahead. The 12 km beach of Patara backed by protected wetlands and behind that hundreds of plastic poly tunnels. We stopped for breakfast on the trail overlooking the ancient ruins of Pydnai before exploring the amazing stone work at ground level.

From there it was a short but tricky stretch down over rock and a landscape recently burnt to a very dodgy bridge over the river separating us from Patara Green Park camping, whose advertising signs have been regularly enticing us since we started.

A day to have a swim, do the washing , erect the tents etc and wrestle with the internet in an attempt to post a blog.

We also had to mask up when the governor came to call proceeds by a mass of police.