Reflections – Wednesday 10 April 2019

Our Departure from the Fire Tower at Phellos

Had I had to walk any distance today it would have been in not a little pain and with some difficulty. Yesterday the pad of my left foot had been quite sore and a little swollen and today it’s much worse. I’ve even got a limp! A quick check with Dr Google last night suggests it could be metatarsalgia due to heavy exercise (definitely), poorly fitting footwear (a seam on the side of my boot has actually split) and possibly age related thinning fatty tissues (quite ikely!) Anyway, seems like a good enough reason for new boots.

On the track to the west of Eren Tepe above Patara

This is such a magnificent and stimulating walk and one I can highly recommend. It’s not some manicured trail you should undertake lightly though. I was far too ambitious with my original route plan. Combining two of the full walking days proposed in Kate Clow’s book is maybe doable if you’re young, travelling very light and super fit but for most will be make for very, very long hard days. We’ve had plenty of 15 to 20 mile days with 1000 metres of climbing in the UK but on this trail 12 miles per day is more than enough to take on for most. The distances and accumulated ascent don’t characterise the walks properly. You have to take into account the surface conditions and terrain, then factor in the weather and navigational difficulties. Though the trails are very well marked it is all to easy to miss a turning and wander down a game track or other oft used path. So I wouldn’t want to do it without a GPS. At least you’ll always know exactly where you are, even it you can’t see the path which frustratingly may only be less than three metres away but the scrub and rock prevent you from locating it.

I like a bit of machinery … cement mixer in Letoon

So my advice is to build plenty of contingency into your schedule and flex it to suit your progress. This means not booking your accommodation in advice which was fine for us but could cause difficulties during busy periods. The answer to that could be to take a tent and sleeping bad but that’s not for everyone. It also allows more time or sight seeing. There’s no point passing through these historic sites without taking a good look at them.

The climb up to Bel

Some people do camp with very lightweight set ups. Check out this blog from Michele who we met in Gökçeören. He is walking the whole route.

https://whereismichel-4.blogspot.com/2019/03/turkey2019.html?m=1

We met several walkers who were doing the whole route which takes about 30 days. I’d say about 50% though were doing 7 to 10 days of walking which most people could manage within their holiday allowance.

House in Dodurga (Sidyma)

We didn’t spend a lot of money. The whole trip apart from our flights cost us about £250 each including proper hotels at the start in Kaş and the end in Fethiye, and transfers to Kaş and our taxi to the airport. The pensions cost us around 300 lira per night including dinner, breakfast and a very simple picnic of bread and cheese. Bottled water was available in all of them too.

So, check this link out and get planning.

http://cultureroutesinturkey.com/the-lycian-way

There’s also some good information in this link:

http://www.lycianturkey.com/index.htm

Totals:

Distances 82.5 miles

Ascent 3874 m 12,900 feet (2.5 miles)

Descent 4400 m 14,700 feet (2.8 miles)

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Alınca to Faralya – Tuesday 9 April

That lovely weather we enjoyed yesterday didn’t last long. In the early hours, We were awoken by a violent lightning storm that passed right over us. There was torrential rain and then I’d remembered that we’d left our boots in the veranda to air off … theoretically under cover but by the time I’d got to them they were soaked – and so was I.

View from Our Room This Morning

We delayed our departure due to the rain though a couple of young Americans set off from our pension in it but. were soon beaten back to the dining room. Just after 10am we decided we couldn’t wait any longer and set off on the descent to Kabak in driving rain. The more we descended the lighter the rain became but even so the rocks were lethally slippery in places. When we arrived at the junction just above Kabak we were able to dispense with a layer and after lunch we packed our waterproofs away.

Bob Pauses for a Pose

This part of the trail was the busiest by far and we saw more people on here in one day than the rest of the week combined. We had a relatively easy walk and arrived in Faralya just after 3pm.

The End of a Long Road

After a celebratory drink (tea and cherry juice!) and chocolate cake at the Misafir Evi Pansiyon we took the dolmuş to Fethiye and found a room at the Reid Royal Hotel (for 250 lira). We were quoted 800 lira at the Yacht Boutique hotel and when we walked into the Orka Hotel they said they were full! Hard to believe that at this time of year – but we were covered in mud and looked like (and probably stank like) tramps ….

Once we’d got cleaned up we found a convenient local restaurant and celebrated properly with a good feed and a glass of rakı.

I hope to post a reflections page over the next few days. Now it’s time to start planning our next trip to the classic ancient cities around İzmir including Ephesus.

Alınca to Faralya

Distance 11.5 km (7.2 miles)

Ascent 354 m (1180 feet)

Descent 800 m (2667 feet)

Bel to Alınca- Monday 8 April

Another sumptuous breakfast awaited us this morning. We were a little late departing but set off under sunny skies and a slight tail wind.

We’ve managed ok for water each day but we’ve checked a number of the fountains and about half were dry which is surprising for so early in the year.

Bob goes water quality testing

We were soon in Sidyma where we had a good look around the mosque (which was built with stones from the ancient city) after first enjoying a short tea break with Bediha who is married to the muhtar of the village (Rasıh Mete had just been elected for his third five-year term of office). (If I understood her correct Bediha said that the water table is much lower than it used to be.)

Sidyma Mosque

The trail took us through the Sidyma necropolis and more meadows full of spectacular wild flowers and herbs which had been part of our daily view everyday.

Sidyma Necropolis

The trail down to Boğaziçi seemed to be favourite haunt of tortoises and we lost count of how many we saw. We’d also learnt the night before from one of the guys who had walked the Lycian Way several times that the earth disturbances we had often seen were caused by wild boars rooting for food as there are so many in this area.

This little feller was moving just a bit faster than we were …

Whilst descending to the village we lost the trail as there were a number of terraces with paths leading to them and in the end I had to take a bearing and we straight-lined it to the proper trail. After a picnic lunch (were are still eating tomatoes from the guard at Letoon) we had long steady tarmac climb. Then from the camping site where the Bel/Gey option trails meet we dropped into the woods and were soon on a very dramatic cliff-edge walk with breathtaking views to the beach 500 metres below. It was a bit hairy in places and it’s not the sort of place I’d want to be walking in a thunderstorm. There were a few fallen trees and evidence of rock landslides which got the imagination running.

After rounding a rocky seasonal waterfall (fortunately dry) we start to climb (and boy did we climb) up a steep loose rocky track. It was a scramble in many places and we had to take frequent stops to catch our breath and take a good drink. That allowed us to look back and down at the magnificent coastline. Once we reached the road at Alınca we just had another short climb to find Bayram’ın Yeri (Bayram’s Place. Here, whilst savouring a drink on the balcony of our room, we basked in the falling sunshine taking in this view.

View from our room at Bayram’s

We had a superb day of walking today and that view just capped it off for me.

Bel to Alınca

Distance 18.3 km (11.5 miles)

Ascent 810 m (2700 feet)

Descent 769 m (2560 feet)

Sunday 8 April – Karadere to Bel

We awoke to a sunny morning and after another good breakfast we set off for Gavurağılı and Bel. Soon we were skirting around the ruins of Pydnai which we really should have spent some time exploring but we were more concerned about our schedule than history today.

Pydnai.

It’s an ancient and irregularly shaped enclosure, guarded at the corners and part-way along the walls by 11 rectangular towers. It’s built of early polygonal stonework, with each block smoothed to give a gripless finish on the outside.  The stonework is remarkably intact and neat, with occasional protruding steps, enabling soldiers inside to scale the walls quickly. Battlements protect the upper walls, except on the harbour side. There are few obvious signs of any construction inside the walls except remains of a later church, but the area is very overgrown with pines, olives and maquis. (Ref: Lycian Way App).

We saw no sign of life in Gavurağılı apart from a small boy sat alone on a bench in the road side. We didn’t have the number for the local social services …

We the started our ascent up to Bel. It began steeply and then just got steeper and steeper so in parts we had to scramble up rocks. Navigation was fairly straightforward (thanks to the painted way markings) though we missed a couple of turns and had to back track a little, once with the assistance of a shepherd. We lost the track a third time and this was a very frustrating episode as it took us about 20 minutes to find it amongst the rocks and thorny bushes. You’re never lost using a GPS but sometime the trail can be a swine to find. You can be three metres away sometime and still not see it.

The compensation for this gruelling climb was the vista. This is a stunning unspoilt coastline.

Bob Takes in the View – and what a view.

Calves burning, when we reached the top we had our picnic in a wood and then called in at an isolated goat herder’s house in Beleceğiz Pass who was offering tea and ayran. Here we met a Canadian backpacker with his Russian girlfriend who were walking the route in the opposite direction to us.

Bileceğiz Pass.

After this it was just a gentle climb on a dirt road up to the village of Bel. There are just two pensions here, no shop, no dolmuş and no internet. Bread is delivered by taxi and there is just one school minibus.

Fatma called to us from her pansiyon on the road side and we were soon enjoying tea and home made cake.

Later we met Rosa and her walking companion who was also Australian and five young Turkish guys who were all staying at Fatma’s.

Fatma laid on a lovely dinner of homemade dishes and we had a very enjoyable evening chatting with the other guests.

Fatma bids Güle Güle to her guests

Distance 14 km (9 miles)

Ascent 780 m (2600 feet)

Descent 100 m (333 feet)

Xanthos to Karadere – Saturday 6 April

The forecast for today was light rain in the morning and heavy rain in the afternoon. The thought of trekking over 30 km in the foothills of the mountains to the north of Kalkan with no shelter didn’t seem too appealing so we changed our plan and took the dolmuş to Xanthos. We had our Turkish coffee whilst chatting to a group six of very friendly Russians who were camping and travelling in our direction. When I told them of the weather forecast they immediately jumped up, packed up and hurriedly left the cafe!

Under heavy skies we strolled around the ruins of the old city in the company of three small dogs. Here, amongst some bushes, we were outraged to find a large piece of stonework had been removed of its plinth and smash to piece. We couldn’t work out if this was vandalism or whether someone had successfully removed a relief carving from the stone.

Entrance to the Theatre in Xanthos

We endured light rain on the easy walk down to Letoon where the ticket collector come security guard allowed to use one of the rooms (in the recently build visitors centre) for our picnic lunch. He disappeared and a few minutes later returned with about twenty huge tomatoes for us. This whole area is covered by acres of greenhouses and is a big vegetable growing area. It’s quite unsightly as it’s on an industrial scale but I guess it’s a main supply system for the tourist business.

Amphitheatre Xanthos

Here we found some interesting information on the languages used by the Lycians as a stele had been discovered which used three different languages and scripts, and assisted scholars in understanding the Lycian language.

Letoon Trilingue

There is also a lovey ceramic mosaic which has been replaced with a copy as the original is now (also) shown in the Fethiye museum.

Mosaic at Letoon

We then set off for our pension in Karadere. Just outside the village the rain came down heavy and so we sheltered then called Dan-Dan who came out to meet us in his “tomato delivery truck” and took us the last couple of kilometres to the Özlen Pansiyon.

Here in the restaurant, amongst smoking and rakı drinking workers watching a live soccer match, we feasted on the largest Kaya Levregi (Rock Bass) wed ever eaten. Çok lezzetiydi.

Kaya Levregi (Rock Bass) at Özlen Pansiyon

Distance 15 km (9.5 miles)

Ascent 110 m (370 feet)

Descent 140 m (470 feet)

Kalkan to Gelemiş – Friday 5 April

We had a much steadier day today but on this walk that is a very relative term.

We avoided the reported scramble and (as advised by Michelle and Georgia) death risking coastal section, and headed up the main road to join the path which was fairly level but narrow, well overgrown and rocky. Eventually we fell upon and walked over and along the Delikkemer (which means arch-pipe (aqueduct)). This is a stunningly clever piece of ancient engineering which (like the path from Berzirgan to Kalkan) I feel should be classed as a national monument (if there is actually such a sort of thing in Turkey). We were told that water originally was channeled from İslamlar to Patara which is 11 km as the crow flies but the aqueduct probably passed over nearly twice that distance and in its day must have been a major construction project for the Romans. It used a siphonic system and much of the pipework was incorporated into stones and sealed with mortar.

Delikkemer (aqueduct)

Broken internal-pipeline stones from Delikkemer

A main support for Delikkmer.

The track from Delikkemer to Patara was a broad Jeep track and only undulating so we made reasonable progress whilst enjoying the stunning coastline. Unfortunately this unspoilt area is becoming blighted by building works and often we were never far away from the sound of a JCB, bulldozer or concrete-mixer truck.

We refreshed at Patara on tea and biscuits and made our fifth phone call of the day to the Garden Hotel in Akbel where we’d hoped to stay. However we couldn’t get an answer so assumed it hadn’t opened yet as it was early in the season. So, we changed our plans and decided to stay nearby in Gelemiş.

On the way we passed through the amazing sight that Patara is and it was good to see some sympathetic reconstruction work in progress .

Main Street in Patara

Distance 23 km (14.5 miles)

Ascent 642 m (2140 feet)

Descent 681 m (2270 feet)

Gökçeören to Kalkan – Thursday 4 April

Today we suffered a complete beasting. The statistics hide the brutality of the terrain: the steepness of the climbs and descents, the loose surfaces, the scrambling up and down over rocks, the difficult route finding and sheer frustration we endured near the end of a very very long day.

Gökçeören to Kalkan

The gentle climb out of Gökçeören was very pleasant as we walked along open pastures and then onto a tractor road, through open grassland flocked with wild flowers The off road descent onto the road to Sarıbelen was somewhat vague but passable though the climb up to the side of Yumru Tepesi was challengingly steep and the route vague in parts. At its end the track had been overlain with large boulders that had been tipped from some roadworks and so we were forced to do some strenuous scrambling which wasn’t easy for two sexagenarians carry rucksacks. We then got onto the track to Berzirgan and turned down a steep loose path where we used our walking poles again to prevent slipping. In Bezirgan we had our late luncheon picnic and then treated ourselves to an ice cream and ice pop from a small shop.

As we ate the sky to the north became very dark and a violent thunderstorm ensued about two miles away. The winds changed and this storm seemed to becoming towards us so we set off at a good pace in a southerly direction to Kalkan in an effort to avoid a good drenching.

“If that storm gets any closer I’m getting into this grain store.”

We passed over some high moorland (not sure what the Turkish word for this is) and then we were soon over this and enjoying the views on the coast lines around Kalkan. We had to lose about 800 m of altitude over 8 km so that gives you an idea how steep it was. What I can’t easily describe is how difficult this was. It’s an old migration path which passes over rocks and boulders and was strewn with loose rocks and stones. Almost every footstep jarred the ankles and knees and pushed your feet deep into your boots so the tops of your toes as well soles of your feet took a good battering. This went on and on …

Lacking any sartorial elegance, Martin sporting a daringly pragmatic shorts and gaiters combo, descends the kaldırm to Kalkan.

We briefly passed the time of day with a goat herder and slowly made our way down the track. Near the bottom we met a Turkish father and son (we assumed) and expressed our surprise at the size of their backpacks and their ambition to get to Sarıbelen that day – which we estimated later would take them until 10:30 pm. It’s no place to be walking at night …

After that we thought we’d have a steadier descent to Kalkan but we actually had one of the hardest parts of the walk so far. The path went over the rocky outcrop to the west of Ulugöl. It was indistinct in many places and overgrown with thorn bushes. It was strewn with boulders and some parts had to be circumnavigated. It was crisscrossed with goat paths which caused a number of wrong turnings. Worse still, a few new “roads” had been bulldozed across the paths. We tried following a couple of these though they all finished at dead-ends. Then the last section was impossible to find. It was getting late and I was quite concerned about being on the hillside in the dark. In the end I just took a bearing and went straight down the rocky hillside. It was a scramble nearly all the way. And credit to Bob, he just followed me and after a very careful 25 minutes we reached a broad track and were soon onto the main road into Kalkan. It was 7 pm by the time we arrive at Gül Pansiyon; very footsore and completely exhausted.

Kalkan is changing by the year but fortunately the breakfasts aren’t.

Distance 28 km (17.5 miles)

Ascent 495 m (1650 feet)

Descent 1272 m (4161 feet)