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      March 2014 > Walking for walkers

Walking for walkers

We all like walking for different reasons – sometimes to explore a new destination, to see a special view, experience new cultures, follow a particular path, to challenge oneself, or simply to get away from it all and lose yourself in your surroundings. With me, it’s been all of the above at some time or another but on a recent trip to Turkey I managed to combine them all.

The southern coast of Turkey has intrigued me as a walking destination ever since two colleagues walked the eastern section of the Lycian Way a couple of years ago. Now it was my turn to go and walk the western section in order to write the walking notes for our new holiday, The Seven Capes of Lycia.

self-guided walking holidays in Turkey

The plan was to start in the small town on Kayaköy and make my way along the coast to the tiny hamlets of Gey and Bel. The days were not particularly long but the terrain was challenging in parts, taking me from small rocky coves to high mountain passes, and through deep, silent ravines and along high wooded ridges.

The temptation to linger in Kayaköy before setting off was not only down to the warm hospitality of host Filiz at Misafir Evi. There is also a ‘ghost village’ to explore! Back in 1923, the Orthodox Christian inhabitants of the original village here had to leave their homes during the forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey, one of the agreements signed during the peace negotiations after the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1923. The people left but the houses remain derelict, a moving memorial to what was for many a tragic event.

self-guided walking holidays in Turkey

(Incidentally, the two novels by Louis de Bernières ‘Birds without Wings’ (which describes upheaval caused when the people had to leave) and ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ (telling the story of their descendants living on the Greek island of Cephalonia during the Second World War) were inspired by this village.)

On leaving Ovacik (the official starting point of the walk) the route begins to climb high above the coast. It’s a long climb but never too steep – this was, after all, an old donkey trail between villages and so there are plenty of level areas on which to catch your breath while you pretend you are only stopping to take yet another photograph of yet another incomparable view. Not that I really needed any excuse. With blue sky above and blue seas below, the scenery is simply glorious.

self-guided walking holidays in Turkey

What I really loved about this walk was the number of ravines to negotiate. Now, that might sound off-putting at first but they proved to be a real thrill, with at least one to traverse each day. The routes invariably took me slowly up the hillside before rounding a corner and heading deep into the heart of each. Now, I like to try and spot my onward route as I walk which in this case meant scanning the far wall, seeking out any tell-tale sign that there really was a path to the top. On many occasions the way forward looked impassable. Where on earth could the path go? Above or below those cliffs? Across that scree? Through those woods?

self-guided walking holidays in Turkey

self-guided walking holidays in TurkeyIn the end, the paths always turned out to be remarkably accessible and very easy to follow. (I must add that the coloured red and white waymarks were clear and plentiful from day one.) There was virtually no scrambling, no vertigo-inducing drops and no “what am I doing here?” moments. In truth, they proved to be the absolute highlight of each day, the anticipation of what was to come completely obscuring the fact that I was climbing steadily for two hours or more. It was almost a disappointment to reach the top of the pass, though my feet may beg to differ.

A few days later, I reached Gey, a tiny hamlet where a very traditional agrarian life continues much as it has done for centuries. Taking my boots off for the last time, I settled back with a beer to watch the sun set over the Seven Capes while reflecting on my walk. I felt a great sense of achievement. It had been tough and dramatic in places; challenging but hugely rewarding. This was no stroll. This is a walk for walkers.

Posted: 27/03/2014 10:59:37 by | with 1 comments
Filed under: Lycia, Turkey, walking

Andy Montgomery
What a wonderfully evocative account of your walk, Peter, and what fabulous images. You have really whetted my appetite to follow this historic and stunning route :)
05/04/2014 10:41:32

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