Here are the details of our aborted 2014 trip, in chronological order.
Wednesday 1 October – Kaş to Phellos
I’m currently staying in Kaş with my wife Angela, my eldest daughter Olivia and her pal Rose. Bob and Maggie Sharrock are along with us and after the week in the hotel everyone else is returning home except Bob and I. We’ll be walking from Kaş to Fethiye on the Lycian Way.
This was our first day of walking which we did before our linear route began. We took the Dolmuş from the Lukka Hotel on Kaş Yarımadası to Kaş town centre. Whilst putting blister tape on my feet we were be friended by a very forlorn looking dog. We then set off up the steep road out of town. We soon crossed the main road and found the even steeper rocky path that winds it’s way up the near vertical rocky escarpment that overlooks Kaş.
The path zig-zags it’s way up through the trees and whilst it was very steep the shade from the pine trees meant it wasn’t too uncomfortable. On the way up we spoke to a young Turkish couple who were also walking to the village of Çukurbağı (chuker-baa-er) . They had a lively black mongrel that stayed with us as we overtook them and set off across the open Çukurbağı plain.
From out of no where, a large Kangol sheep dog appeared and ran after the black dog. I grabbed a couple of stones in case it decided to tackle a much slower quarry (Bob and I) but relaxed when I saw the shepherd about 100 metres away. The black dog ran back to its owners with the sheep dog in pursuit. Soon we heard a yelp and howl in the distance though we were not sure from which dog these came. We never saw either of them again.
We carried on, walking easily along a broad track, across the open depression that gives it’s name to this area. We stopped briefly at the main mosque in Çukurbağı, swilled the sweat from our faces at the communal fountain and rehydrated ourselves.
Turning off the road at the next mosque, near Dede Cafe we wound our way up the southern hillside of Phellos. There was no shade here and the path was quite steep so it was a relief to arrive at the top and find some shelter. Temperatures were about 6’C lower than at sea level and with the slight breeze it was a very comfortable place to be. Phellos is the site of a Lycian city and the remains of some buildings and burial tombs lie, overgrown with scrub, amongst the natural rocky outcrops. Many of the sarcophagi are quite impressive and still largely intact as they are carved out of solid rock, and have decorative features. However, there appears to have been to effort made to preserve or protect any of the ruins. We spoke to a German couple and helped them find one of the larger tombs they’d been looking for, as I’d explored this area the year before.
Having strolled around the site, we eventually wound our way back down the hillside to Dede Cafe and enjoyed a cool glass of Ayran and Turkish tea. Cemel Bey, a retired tailor runs this small pension with his wife who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. I chatted to him in my broken Turkish and found him to be a such a charming gentleman. He even offered to drive us back to Kaş if the dolmuş didn’t show. We had considered walking the 5 miles back but it was quite late and we had achieved our main goal so decided to wait for a dolmuş. Cemal had told us here was no set schedule. After about 15 minutes one turned up followed by two more (that were probably school buses). The driver beckoned that he would soon return but just then a car stopped and a lady offered us a lift back to Kaş. Ayşe is an English translator married to an American so I didn’t trouble her with my Turkish and she well understood our offer to paint a mural on her car and to service it, in exchange for the ride, were a bit tongue-in-cheek.
We were soon back at the hotel, with one of us enjoying a very refreshing dip in the pool and the other a short snooze.
Kaş Centre to Çukurbağ village
4.76 m 550m ascent
Çukurbağ to Phellos and return to Çukurbağ
4.45 miles 350m ascent
10.25 miles and & 900m ascent total
Left Kaş at 0910 and finished walking about 1550 hrs.
Sunday 5 October – Phellos to Kalkan
Well, today didn’t quite go to plan ….
We took a taxi with Hüsseyn from our hotel on the Kaş Peninsula up to the fire tower near Phellos. I decided to take the left had track from the fire tower which back-fired slightly as we had a bit of bush whacking to get onto the official path. We were soon retracing our steps from our previous walk and did a little more exploring around the ruins. We then set off on the rock path that leads of Phellos in a roughly westerly direction. This dropped down onto a newish double track path and we missed a right turn off this onto a single track path and had to backtrack about 300 m to pick it up. Only to find the single track rejoined the double track after about one kilometre. Much worse was to come though. We stopped for a drink and snack under some trees. Conditions were brilliant. About 20’C with a slight breeze and broken cloud. We climbed a little on the double track and again missed a right turn but soon noticed it. However locating this path was a little tricky and the sat nav came in handy. The paths was very loose and rocky and as it descended and steepened I went over on my right ankle. I managed avoid falling properly by throwing all my weight onto my right leg which went into a massive cramp spasm as I fell forward and came to rest hands down on some large rocks. That hurt! Bob had an elasticated support stocking which I slid over and then taped up. Within a few seconds it had swelled up quite noticeably. Bob had two walking poles and I borrowed one and was soon up and walking though with some difficulty. Pushing off on my right leg hurt my quad like hell and my right ankle could barely support my weight. After about a mile I went over on my ankle went again and this time I went crashing down and scuffed my knee. Bob came to the rescue and got me up. I was a bit like a stranded beetle on its back. He then gave me the other pole and insisted on carrying my rucksack. I could only progress very slowly. The terrain continued to be rocky and steep down hill. I fell again when my foot slipped on a steep descent. We made very slow progress now because I was in a lot of pain. We were only able to maintain between about 1 km per hour. We never saw a soul from leaving Phellos until we were off the mountain. When we arrived at the Likya Way it showed there was still 8km to go to our pension at Gökçeören. Even though the track had levelled now we estimated it would still take about four hours to reach there and it would be dark by then. It made more much sense to head for the road near Hacioğlan and try to get a lift into Kalkan. It took is an hour to walk the 3km on a fairly smooth double track. At the road we met a charming young lady called Beren who is a student at Izmir University and she offered to help us find a lift as there was no dolmuş service. We set off on the main road to her uncles but soon flagged down a people carrier. Though it was full, they agreed to take us into Kalkan on their way to Patara. They’d been out for the day visiting relatives for the Kurban Bayram holiday. There was a family of four young girls with there parents. The third youngest was about 13 and she was very keen to practice her rudimentary English on us. The driver was a young man who worked for a tour company and spoke good English but none if the others appeared to.
We found the Gül Pension and fortunately they had a free room. I’d previously cancelled our B&B with Hüsseyn Yılmaz at Gökçeören and he didn’t seem so upset by that. Ömer have me an ice pack for my ankle and I put my feet up for half an hour.
He directed us to a little restaurant (called Home Made) where we had supper of meze, soup and köfte (meatballs). We chatted to the owners and told them about my accident. They called the doctor and he agreed to see me that might. But not before we had sampled their ice cream with a fig and molasses (pekmez ) sauce.
Doctor Niyazi gave my foot a fairly rudimentary examination and said it wasn’t broken. He sprayed it with a coolant and put a neoprene support on it. He then gave me a prescription and a bill for 200 lira.
I slept well and had a fairly comfortable night.
Monday 6 October – Kalkan
We started our day with a typical Turkish breakfast at the pension which included Ömer’s mum’s home made plum jam. At the chemist, the prescription was exchanged for an anti-inflammatory and arnica. We met another group of walkers who were on an organised tour with a Turkish guide (Zeynep). We bumped into them later that afternoon as we explored the Patara Lycian and Roman ruins. I found I was able to walk around flat pavements fairly easily. Rough ground and inclines were problematic though. We spent about two and a half hours there and as we enjoyed an ice cream met a young Danish solo hiker (Vivianne) who was aiming to walk most of the LW over 30 days and was camping most nights. Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to talk to a cycling tourist as he left before we’d finished talking to Vivianne.
Kalkan to Fethiye … and on …
We ate again at the super little “Home Made” restaurant where we met three German ladies who were touring the area and were very interested in our trip.
I got off to sleep ok but was awake from around 4 until 6:30 as my ankle was throbbing a bit and all of my lower leg had become quite swollen and my foot was huge. I decided it wasn’t worth carrying on now. I wanted to get it checked out properly. I also didn’t fancy going to a local hospital and risk getting hospitalised so far from home. I discussed this with Bob over breakfast and he was happy to set off back to England. One of the German ladies was staying at our hotel and we invited her to join us for breakfast. Christina had spent three and a half weeks in Turkey on her own happily visiting some of the ruins and enjoying walks through the characterful small Turkish villages. Bob and I took the dolmuş to Fethiye and on the way changed our return flight for that night.
We kicked around Fethiye for a few hours admiring the boats and watching the English on holiday. A large turtle performing for scraps in the harbour caught our attention and reminded us it was time for food. From experience the best places to eat in a tourist town are those family owned street cafés off the main drag. After a short walk through the ‘Glitterland’ of Fethye we came across ‘Mert Kafeterya’ and enjoyed an excellent cheap lunch and friendly conversation with the owner and his young son whilst reclining in invalid mode. We had a bit of fun finding the main bus station taking two Dolmushes in opposing directions and twice sailing past the correct stop as we thought they would terminate there. In the end we had to take a taxi back through town to our correct stop, but it was only a fiver.
We arrived at the Dalaman airport with hours to spare despite getting off the bus at the wrong terminal (sometimes it’s better not to ask people for help!). Fortunately I remembered to dispose of my illegal contraband. I’d read some horror stories about encounters with dogs and after my fright on the last trip decided whilst in Kaş to get some pepper spray. I bought a small can at a hunting and fishing shop but when I looked at it more closely (all the writing on it was in German – honestly!) I realised it was actually CS gas. I haven’t checked yet but I’m sure this will be an illegal substance in Turkey but I thought we may as well keep it – just in case. We didn’t have any dog problems but if we had Bob was tasked to run down the track and draw them off me whilst I hobbled and slid my way slowly towards civilisation. However whilst we were descending the mountain on Sunday through a particularly thick wooded copse we did hear some strange animal noises and at the same time saw the trees being shaken and moving as a large animal moved around ahead of us snuffling and snorting like a boar hunting truffles. We heard it about three times so with Bob on point and me rapidly developing a thrusting defensive action with walking poles, moved ahead carefully. I don’t know if deer or boar are to be found around there but that was out best guess. Fortunately it can’t have been too hungry as it didn’t show itself.
Were are the airport now and surrounded but the usually tourist hoards which I guess we are part of but don’t want to be.
Wednesday 8 October – home and reflections
I arrived at York A&E at about 3:30 am. The X-Ray showed there were no broken bones but my blood marker (D-dimer) for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) was very elevated. So I had to return this afternoon for an ultrasound scan. This was clear and so I’ll just have a straight forward sprain recovery.
When you plan and prepare for a trip like this, various incident scenarios go through your mind that may mess up your plans … and you do your best to remove or mitigate the risks. An immobilising injury was not one of them, based I guess, on our previous experience of multi-day hill walking trips. This was a mistake.
I was expecting blisters and minor injuries to be the more likely things that would interrupt our progress and maybe force us to leap-frog some sections. This is what we had to contend with when completed a 100 mile section of the Pennine Way about a month before this trip.
One of our big planning discussions was on the choice of footwear for this trip. We usually use boots for hill walking in the UK but both decided independently that we’d use proper walking shoes for this trip. This was mainly due to the higher ambient temperatures which mean more perspiration and risk of blisters especially with a heavier boot. I’ve walked hills in shoes before but probably the lack of ankle support and increased weight (even from our relatively light ~20lb sacks) led to this incident. Some people seem to able to manage very rough terrain in walking shoes but obviously I can’t.
Fortunately we had an ankle support but a better one would have helped. The walking poles were incredibly useful and even though I fell again when using just one and then two of them (no doubt as it had been considerably weakened) , I don’t know how, without them and Bob’s help, I could have got myself off that mountain. Even if you think you might never need them, a pair are very good insurance. And I’ll be buying some! (Even though I’ve often scoffed at them in the past.)
Navigation with GAIA was a breeze and though we missed a couple of hard-to-see turn-offs (as were were doing the walk in the reverse direction to most) we soon noticed this and were quickly back on track. Whilst there are plenty of painted way-markers I would say you can’t rely just on these but they do provide confirmation and mean you don’t have to keep checking your GPS. Unless you have got good detailed mapping (at least 50,000 scale), I wouldn’t want to do this walk without a guide or GPS.
The path from Phellos to Hacioğlan was quite steep and remote and walking it in the easterly direction (as we did) meant quite a technical descent. I suspect there will be many other even longer sections like this along the way. Whilst we did meet and know of solo walkers on this route I’m not sure this is a good idea given the terrain and location. Carrying a tent and provisions does make you self sufficient though you might wait days before anyone found you if you had to wait for assistance.
The part of the route we did fully lived up to our expectations. The unspoilt hillsides and valleys, ancient landscapes and ruins, legendary Turkish hospitality, wonderful food, widespread and regular Dolmuş services all lead to a walkers dream location. Any unsupported trip is going to be riskier in terms of certainly of plan execution. Having some level of support and back-up transport (from say a tour company or friends) would of course increase cost but would provide some safeguards.
I’ll restart the blog when we return ….