The Carian Trail (Karia Yolu)
The trails were much tougher than we expected hence the distances we covered were much shorter than we are used to walking. We’re fairly experienced walkers and have completed the Three (Yorkshire) Peaks, the Pennine Way, Wainright’s Coast to Coast, the Cleveland Way, part of the Lycian Way and dozens and dozens of day walks. We’re used to doing 20 to 25 km per day and up to 50 km when required but some days here we only managed about 12 km. Despite what’s reported elsewhere the way marking isn’t good enough on its own and a GPS is really a necessity. In many places it’s steep, loose and rocky and we found ourselves on hands and knees or scrambling in many places. My advice would be to take the lightest pack commensurate with your comfort needs, walking poles and very stout boots. I honestly think walking in this terrain in shoes is folly. It’s not the sort of place you want to find you’ve rolled an ankle as recovery isn’t probably and option on most parts of the trail.
We picked a good time of year and I’m sure late June, all of July August abad September would be too hot. The camp sites we saw had no facilities at and in effect you’d be wild camping. Also food and water supply point would need to be planned should you be doing through-walks.
I loved the remoteness of the places the trail took us through though. The remains of the buildings which we saw of course had none of the scale or grandeur of the later Greek and Roman sites we have visited and require more imagination to appreciate but we’re still very impressive given the period they were built in and the available technologies.
To summarise I’d say it’s a fantastic hard-core hiking route and not one for the inexperienced, unfit or casual walker.
Serçe Limanı to Loryma Tuesday 11 October
Apologies again for the lack of information on our progress and status and photos. It got even worse this evening as we’ve had four power cuts and each one last from 5 to 30 minutes.
We played a master stroke this morning. This is where our single-mindedness pursuit of academic interest and archaeological knowledge came to the fore. After our disappointment at not getting to Loryma yesterday we drove down to the port at Serçe Limanı and drowned our sorrows in Ayran (the Turkish yoghurt drink). Whilst there were toured the small harbour where a few flashy yachts were moored and noted a couple of small motor boats which were advertising boat trips to the nearby bays … and one of these was the bay where Loryma is located. A little bit of negotiation ensued and we had a boat tour booked for the next day, ie today. Result! I hasten to add the decision to take the boat was in no way connected to anyones wish not to do a tough walk today. 😉
We had a minor hiccough on the drive to the port this morning. We got flagged down by a chap whose motor scooter had broken down and who wanted a lift to Söğüt to draw out some cash from the bank. He seemed a bit frail and had great difficulty putting on his seat belt. So I jumped out of the car to get to the other side to release the trapped belt and give him a hand. The most surprising thing about this was his insistence at using a belt given most Turks attitude to road safety. (We’ve come to the conclusion that mobile phone use whilst driving us compulsory as it’s ubiquitous.) The other thing that surprised me was his age he was 65 but seemed like an infirm old man alongside us. He claimed he was still working as a fisherman though.
As we dropped him off I noticed that one of my walking socks was missing off the back seat and so we had to make a return journey of a couple of miles to successfully locate it where we’d picked him up.
Memduh and his wife were waiting for us and we were soon on board and leaving the very sheltered harbour of Serçe Limamı (Sparrow Port). First we anchored at Korsun Körfezi (Pirate’s Bay) where we indulged ourselves with a swim w jete we spotted some flying fish. This was followed by an excellent if slightly more modest Turkish breakfast than we’ve got used to this week.
Then we chugged over to Bokukkale and on the way we were overtaken by a couple of spectacular Gülets which appeared to be racing each other.
Memduh’s wife whose name I’ve ashamedly forgotten) tied up “Atabey K” on a pontoon below the remains of Loryma castle, which it located at the entrance to the bay, and we spent the best part of an hour exploring its remains. The walls were built on a prominent natural rocky outcrop which also provided a lot of the protection from the open sea-side of the the castle. Not much remains other that the blocks and some doorways of the lower section of the walls. It must have been a massive structure in its day because the walls measure around 300 m long by 40 m wide. There were no signs of any decorative carvings or written inscriptions anywhere though I estimated that many of these blocks had lost at least one cm from their thickness in parts due to erosion. However we did find another rock that had been carved out into an olive oil processing bowl.
After exploring LoRoma Castle we motored into the Bozukkale Bay and went for a swim. Just at the rear of the shore of the bay were some more low stone walls which looked like they could have been the remains of another smaller fortress but probably of a different (later?) period. Bob and I swam to shore and scrambled around and over some rocks to get up to them them but we didn’t want to risk damaging our cameras so we’ve no photographs to show for it. We then swam all the way back to our boat which took us about 15 minutes as it was about 270 m away. Bob used his sandals as flippers and I was concerned about sunburn on my unprotected pate. So, ever the improviser and whilst in the water of course, I whipped off my swimming shorts and used them as a hat until I got back to Atabey – much to the amusement of Cliff and Kaptan Memduh. And I did put them back on before I got back on board.
Back on board we had a lunch of local fish and salad. The tastiest part was the “flute fish” which I think we call a trumpet fish. Memduh told us the other was a Lokum Balağı (brushteeth lizardfish) but we haven’t been able to verify this and it seems unlikely too.
Later, we spotted a lone figure on the rocks behind the shoreline and Memduh told us there was a goat herder aged about 45 who lived alone there. There are no roads to the bay and the only access is via the sea or the goat tracks which we’d used the day before. It would probably take 5 or 6 hours to get to the nearest village if Taşlıca. The herder’s mother and father used to live in the hut with him but since the father’s passing the mother had moved to Söğüt. What an incredible hard existence that must be.
The above map shows the route if our boat trip and walk. On returning to our departure port we drove back to the villa and prepared our bags for the flight home before going out again for pide and lahmacun (both a sort of Turkish pizza).
Serçe Limamı Road to Loryma Monday 10 October
The plan today was to take the trail from just north of the road to Captain Nemo at Serçe Limanı and try to get to three ancient sites. The first is Loryma (also known locally as Bozukkale ie ruined castle), the second the abandoned village of Karamak and the third an abandoned church.
The trail was another barely defined (but mainly completely undefined) steep climb up a loose rocky crag. It was very slow going and eventually we reached the peak of the first hill (at around 250 m above sea level) but this had taken us the best part of two hours. We’d made a late start (due mainly to another large breakfast) and it was clear that there was no way we had the time to get to the castle and back in daylight.
We ate some fruit and then started to look around the rock strewn area. There was an ancient well which had water in it at a depth of about 7 metres and a carved-out stone drinking trough.
There were quite a number of large carved stone blocks strewn around and the remains of a wall and what was clearly some sort of building. Some of the natural rocks had been carved out into what seemed like processing facilities. We assumed (correctly we found later) that some had been used for processing olives into oil.
A second olive processing rock.
The other even more interesting rock was one which we have only been able to speculate about so far. It seems like it could have been used for processing animal (goat) hides or meat or (much less likely) washing hides or clothes. Like a rank amateur I forgot to scale this image below but the human-made part was just over a metre long and half-a-metre wide.
We also found a collection of pottery shards though of course we’ve no idea whether these were contemporary with the rock carving. At least I scaled these with a house key.
We then made our way back down the path that we’d come up. This time the route finding was slightly easier as there were a few more signs (paint marks on rocks) to show us the way.
We’d been out for almost 5 hours and I’m not going to embarrass any of us by admitting how many miles we walked but I’m sure it’s the slowest pace that I’ve ever made
On the way back to Selimiye we stopped at Bozburun to have a look around the gület building boat yards. It seems as if the basic structure of these boats hasn’t changed for hundreds of years and the skills of the boat-builders was very evident.
Taşlıca to Phoenix (Finike) Sunday 9 October
Finding somewhere to get a proper breakfast in Soğut this morning was challenging but eventually it came good with the Palamut (bonito) restaurant.
A lot of people in this area are just scratching a living out of the land and have very hard lives. We saw this elderly lady (and others) carrying what appeared to be animal feed long distances on foot.
When we walked into the Palamut Restaurant we were greeted by a teenager who seemed half asleep and and very vague about what was on offer so we had to wait a while for it to appear but we were eventually served with a vast array of typical Turkish breakfast dishes.
The donkey is still a favoured mode of transport of some of some of the villagers on the Bozburun Peninsula.
Whilst we explored Phoenix, from some distance I saw what appeared to be a cave but once we’d climbed up to it we realised it was some sort of ancient tomb or possible temple.
View from inside the tomb.
This is part of the location and ruins of the town of Phoenix (Finike in Turkish) which was part of the Rhodian Peraea or Peraia which was the name for the southern coast of the region of Caria in western Turkey during the 5th–1st centuries BC, when the area was controlled and colonized by the nearby island of Rhodes.
During the Hellenic Period the extent of the Peraia grew with the addition of various vassal regions. It reached its greatest extent in 188 BC, when the entirety of Caria and Lycia South came under Rhodian rule, but when Rhodes submitted to Rome in 167 BC, this region was lost again.
Can you see a path here? No? Well neither could we and this is quite typical of many parts of the Carian Trail.
The nearest town to Phoenix is called Taşlıca which means stoney-place-person . The whole area is just strewn with rocks and the soil conditions appear very poor. However to the south west of the ancient Phoenix settlement there is a fertile valley which is still used by herdsmen and “market gardener” type villagers.
All the cows in this region are of a very small breed.
We discovered this interesting carved stone in the lower levels of the Phoenix settlement.
Today’s route. Unfortunately we had to do an “out-and-back” as we did t have time to do a circular route.
Gülets at sunset on the shore at Denizkızı near Söğüt.
Marmaris Castle and Museum Saturday 8 October
We took a bit of a beasting yesterday and so we decided to have an easier day today and visit the castle and museum in Marmaris. We’d heard horror stories about Marmaris having been ruined by hordes of British tourist though the parts which we visited, around the old town castle, weren’t that bad and just looked like most other Turkish resort towns.
We were a bit disappointed with the castle as it’s not much more than a tower or keep really and it’s been restored in what seemed to be (in parts) a Disney-esque style. However the museum was very interesting and they had artefacts and finds from 480 BCE including the Archaic, Classical, Hellenic and Roman periods.
We had a tour of the Kapalı Çarşı (covered market) and enjoyed a cheap but excellent lunch in a local lokanta before we headed back to Selimiye for a swim in the sea. Our returned was marred somewhat by a huge navigational error (mea culpa) when we missed the turning for Bozburun/Selimiye and found ourselves halfway down the Datça peninsula before Cliff noticed it.
We’d been invited by our villa hosts to use the beach facilities of a local hotel (which had been paid for by our hosts) but when we turned up we didn’t get a very warm welcome as they said they’d closed a few days earlier. So we went to a local public beach and enjoyed a quick dip before dinner.
Selimiye to Bayırköy Friday 7 October
The day started very well with a full Turkish breakfast at Delice in Selimiye.
The walk began with a gentle stroll along the harbour.
Very soon we were off the road and climbing up to the nearby castle.
This is the castle just outside Selimiye. There was no discernible track to the top. Cliff and Bob went up via the left side and I from the right. Both routes turned into scrambles over boulders and through bush.
Selimiye Castle was built by the Byzantines as a defence and to maintain control of the local sea trade route towards the Aegean Sea. Also it was used by the Byzantines (1204-1453) to maintain their feudal control over the local peasant population.
After climbing the castle we returned to the track which leads east towards Bayırköy. Through the day navigation ranged from easy to challenging to nigh-on impossible. In so many places there was no actually track and we were walking over scree, through boulder fields, over walls, crags etc.
The whole walk passed through a wonderful rocky landscape of scrubland and sparse trees. The route took us up to an area where there were some large stones and walls and we need to do some more research on this however it certainly looked pre-Hellenic.
The photos don’t give any indication of just how tough this walk was today. Almost every step we took involved lifting our feet and stepping onto or over large rocks and boulders. Much of the trail was over grown with large bushes and trees. There’s was a lot of steep climbing and descending and we were glad we’d brought our walking sticks with us. The shepherds had deliberately blocked off some of the route to coral their goats. Whist the route is way marked in places it was so easy to veer off it and lose the trail. It was very hard work and I’m almost embarrassed to say that our moving time only manage 2km per hour. I don’t think we’ve ever made such slow progress on any walk.
Selimiye to Bozburun Thursday 6 October
A late start was called for after the previous day of travel. Turgut called in to take payment and show us a around the town. Th breakfast recommendation was incredible – as was the price! It’s quite an upmarket resort which caters for the sailing market so prices and approaching UK levels in some places. This is not what we’ve been used to.
We walked north east out of the town up a steepening jeep track. The late start meant we were in temperatures around 27°C. There is quite a lot of new building development underway on parts of the route in the area but fortunately most of it is low-level residential property. Once across a plateau the path into Bozburun was a steep rocky, technical descent which chose to use our walking poles on (or a makeshift one in my case). We ate a packed lunch on bench in shade alongside harbour in the town then to cool off we swam in the sandy bay which was ideal for cleaning off all the dust and dirt from the trail. A Dolmus back to Selimiye and a refreshing Efes in a beach bar followed.
After a shower and cuppa at the villa we walked down to the village and ate at Fora Balik.
The total mileage forge day was 10 miles with around 250 metres of ascent.
Transfer Day Wed 5 October.
This was a fairly uneventful day that was hindered slightly by a couple of bad decisions.
Our 6am flight from Leeds Bradford left on time though once airborne none of us managed much sleep due to garrulous passengers (a pair of Gogglebox sisters and an inebriated middle-aged skin-head who almost missed the flight) . The car hire pick-up turned into a bit of an ordeal. There was no one to meet us and we eventually found that rental office was a few hundred metres away in the domestic terminal. Once we’d located it the clerk told we had the wait 30 minutes as the car hadn’t been returned on time. Then they wouldn’t accept my debit card as the rental t&c’s demanded it be a credit card. One of my credit cards had expired and the other one was declined. They wouldn’t accept payment from anyone else other than me as I was the original person who’d made rental agreement. Stymied! Another 10 minute wait ensued and the clearly eventually decided to accept my credit card even though they wouldn’t be able to take the full deposit. That debacle cost us a good hour.
The next bad decision was the choice of route from the airport down to Bozburun peninsula. I’d previously visited the area on a work trip about six years earlier and automatically used the roads I’d used then. These took us on a dramatic and spectacular coastal road but was so winding and twisty it cost us at least an hour.
So we didn’t arrive at our accommodation in Selimiye until around 7pm. Fortunately our hosts Turgut and Meltem had provided us with some Gözleme (savoury pancakes), fresh fruit and tea do we didn’t need to go out for dinner. Well, we’d had a feast of köfte on the way down too.
This is another of Turkey’s long distance footpaths. We’re aiming to walk some sections of it over the next week 5 to 12 October 2022.
The Carian Trail is an 800 km long distance walking path exploring Southwest Turkey through the modern provinces of Muğla and Aydın. The trail is named after the Carian civilization. On route you will discover a region rich in ancient ruins and history. Stone paved caravan roads and mule paths connect villages from the coast to a mountainous hinterland. Pine forest cloaks the mountain slopes whilst olive terraces and almond groves are an important part of the region’s economy.
The trail accesses a lesser known and unspoiled region that is full of colour and tradition for all to enjoy. The trail is signed and waymarked according to international standards allowing both independent and group travellers to hike and enjoy the scenic beauty and cultural treasures of Caria. A guidebook and a map is available, which gives the best detailed information about the route and region.https://cultureroutesinturkey.com/carian-trail/
Most of our walking will be on the Bozburun Yarınadası (grey nose/beak peninsula).
The tail passes through the outskirts of Marmaris and resort of İçmeler then disappears twisting up into pine forested mountains.
The Bozburun peninsula is situated in the south west corner of Turkey, its wild and rugged beauty are a breath of fresh air after the mass tourism of Marmaris. The sparsely populated peninsula is home to less than twenty thousand inhabitants. The small town of Bozburun is the administrative centre of the region and famous for traditional boat building. Its sheltered bays and inlets are home to many craft during the winter months when they are hauled on land and propped up on wooden supports for repair and overhaul. In summer boats of all shapes and sizes can be seen at anchor or tied up at the harbor fronts all over the peninsula.
The top half of the peninsula is mountainous and forested with steep slopes rising from sheltered coastal inlets. Travelling south, the forest gives way to a barren rocky landscape with scattered ruins half submerged or hill top fortifications protecting hidden valleys’ and sheltered ports.
For the walker the remoteness is ripe for exploration. With a lack of roads the old trails and paths have been cleaned to access every viewpoint across the sea to the Greek islands of Symi and Rhodes. The Trail routes through a diversity of terrain with many changes of scenery and magical views round every corner. There are many traditional villages making a living from the rugged landscape along with coastal villages catering for the demands of tourism.(ref: https://cultureroutesinturkey.com/carian-trail/sections/)